For more than 40 years, Jack Ankerson has been a fixture of Hampton Roads sports. On Tuesday night, he shared wisdom and knowledge from his long career with Norfolk Academy student-athletes.
Mr. Ankerson is the public address announcer for Harbor Park, home of the Norfolk Tides. His voice has been heard at Old Dominion University games and many other athletics events. Before that, he was an executive for various professional teams, including the Virginia Squires of the now-defunct American Basketball Association.
He addressed a large crowd in Burroughs gymnasium as part of athletics orientation for students in grades seven through 12. He spoke about the value of coaches, saying he decided to play at Ripon College in Wisconsin because a coach drove through a snowstorm to recruit him.
Mr. Ankerson played football, basketball and tennis at Ripon (where he was a classmate of actor Harrison Ford). He learned about pushing himself from a football coach who was tough on him. He asked the coach one day why. His response: If I stop, that means I’ve lost interest in helping you.
Many students at Norfolk Academy play multiple sports, and Mr. Ankerson said that is wise. It reduces the risk of emotional burnout and injury from muscle overuse, he said. It also provides the chance to make friends in different places.
“It’s an opportunity to broaden experiences,” Mr. Ankerson said.
Before his speech in the gymnasium, Mr. Ankerson made his rounds at the Pit, where dinner was served. He offered advice to students involved in NATV, which broadcasts school sporting contests and other important events.
If you’re interested in that field, find as many work opportunities as possible, Mr. Ankerson said. “Because you just never know” when one might lead to a job.
In the gymnasium, Headmaster Dennis Manning began orientation by speaking about values Norfolk Academy holds. Student-athletes should commit themselves to the team, taking care of their bodies and showing good sportsmanship, Mr. Manning said.
Chad Byler, interim co-director of athletics, expanded. First, he honored Tom Duquette, who recently stepped down from coaching after 38 years leading lacrosse.
Mr. Byler then announced this year’s athletics theme, “Be A Bulldog.” That phrase carries four key values, he said. Students should show respect, for opponents, referees and fans. They should be committed, showing up for practices. They should display toughness. And the school community should show spirit, coming to games and cheering.
Mr. Ankerson then made his speech. He has a grandson in eighth grade at Norfolk Academy, who plans to play multiple sports. Mr. Ankerson said he expects to be around campus again for games.
He also applauded the school’s academic programs.
“There’s a lot to be proud of here,” Mr. Ankerson said.
He closed with a line that brought loud cheers.