The voice of varsity football
Jim Zappavigna has always had an interest in sports announcing but was never sure the opportunity would arise. Growing up in Bellevue, Nebraska, sports were a big part of Zappavigna’s life. He would listen to University of Nebraska football games with his dad while working around the house.
At that time, famed and energetic Lyell Bremser was the play-by-play announcer on KFAB radio in Omaha for the Cornhuskers (Huskers). His famous saying, “Holy moly! Man, woman and child, did that put ’em in the aisles!” meant that the Huskers did something promising on the field. Bremser’s excitement always grabbed fans attention whether he was commenting on a good or bad play.
As a student at the University of Nebraska, Zappavigna attended all of the football games in Lincoln being one of the “reddest” Husker fans. He said sometimes he found the sports announcing a bit flat. Graduating in 1988, his schooling did not land him in a sound booth.
Zappavigna’s first job was with Phoenix Concrete Cutting which took him to southern California. A transfer to Phoenix led him to his wife Georgi in 1994.
Soon after, the couple transferred to Denver and settled in Castle Pines where they raised three daughters, Briana (20), Dani (18) and Jamie (17).
Throughout the years, when the family would watch college and NFL games, Zappavigna often made comments
about a play, and within seconds, the TV announcers would say the exact same thing. The couple joked that he “missed his calling.” That joke was not far from reality.
Two years ago, Zappavigna was given an opportunity that put him in the speaker box to announce high school varsity football home games for Rock Canyon High School.
“I think the job of the home team announcer is to keep people interested in the game, not be the star of the show,” said Zappavigna. He added that as a high school sports announcer, his primary function is to convey prompt and pertinent information about the game.
Zappavigna said he has been inspired by sports radio juggernauts Dave Logan and Alan Roach. “They both kept the audience in tune and excited about the Broncos,” said Zappavigna.
When Zappavigna is not at EchoPark Stadium, he can be found at Diamond Drilling & Sawing Company, an outfit thatsupplies concrete cutting and demolition services throughout most of the U.S. As director of national contracts, Zappavigna said, “It’s an awesome job. Demolishing bridges is satisfying.” He added that he managed all of the bridge removals on the Transportation Expansion Project (T-REX) back in the early 2000s on I-25 through Denver, and that his company has worked on large jobs at DIA and other airports around the country.
Someday, Zappavigna would love to be the color guy for college football. For him, a college game is more exciting than an NFL one. He said Kirk Herbstreit has his dream job. “He analyzes the day’s games for three hours on Saturday mornings and then either calls the game where the crew is or catches a private jet and flies to some other city and calls another high-profile game.”
While Zappavigna may not be flying just yet to call a high-profile game, he does respect his volunteer position, players and the coaches. Before each game he makes it a priority to learn the names of players of both teams so he will pronounce them correctly. Booth spotter Troy Krumenauer helps him with this and the corresponding jersey number for each player. “It is important to me that I pronounce names correctly, mostly for the parents!” concluded Zappavigna.
By Julie Matuszewski; photos courtesy of Georgi and Jim Zappavigna and Mira Brand