In order to create the Best Time Ever at TrackTown12, a lot of time and coordination is being spent on the run of show for each day inside Hayward Field. Everything besides the results is carefully planned, including, among many things, the opening ceremonies, award ceremonies, and TrackVision video content. One other key elements for the run of show during the U.S. Olympic Trials – Track and Field lies with the individuals behind the public address microphone. Luckily for TrackTown USA, we have one of the best around. Paul Swangard, a long-time track and field announcer at Hayward Field, has a growing reputation as one of the premiere announcers in the sport, and for the first time will be one of the lead announcers for the Olympic Trials during TrackTown12.
Photo from Lundquist College of Business
Swangard grew up in Eugene as a track and field fan. He attended South Eugene High and holds both his Bachelors and MBA degrees from the University of Oregon. When Swangard isn’t behind the mic, he is serving as the the Managing Director of the James H. Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business. We recently caught up with Paul to give us some ‘behind the mic’ insights as he prepares for the Olympic Trials.
A little Swangard History…When was your first Hayward experience and when was your first time behind the mic?
PS: I was born in Eugene in the late 60s and grew up a track fan in TrackTown USA. My parents viewed spring meets at Oregon like a daycare center. We’d be dropped off before the first event and spend the entire day at Hayward Field. I still have a shoebox of autographs from the 1980 Trials and a lot of great childhood memories. After some success sprinting at South Eugene, I was lucky enough to be asked to walk on at Oregon in the mid 80’s but lasted only a season. Later, I transitioned into a career in sports broadcasting and was asked to audition for the Hayward PA job in the early 90’s after Wendy Ray stepped down. It’s hard to believe I’m approaching 20 years in the role but it’s been a great run so far!
What is the Hayward Field experience like from the booth?
PS: It’s controlled chaos in the booth. I’ve always said it is like being a ring master at a circus doing our best to keep the crowd in tune with what is going on and providing perspective on how well the athletes are performing. The sight-lines are good though the television platforms can make announcing the jumps a bit of a challenge. What is great about being in the booth is we are all fans of the sport and are all focused on delivering a great experience for the fans and for the athletes regardless of affiliation.
Looking back to Eugene08, in your opinion, what made it so special?
PS: I think Eugene08 was both a great track and field meet and a great event. That was the difference as the organizers sought to elevate the Trials into a broader entertainment experience. People came to be a part of it with or without a ticket. I think they’ll elevate it again in 2012.
You have announced meets all over the country, how do the other experiences and venues compare to Hayward Field?
PS: Each venue has its own distinct personality. I’m biased to Eugene only because its home and the spectators always seem to be the most educated and understand the role they play in supporting the athletes. The magic of Hayward Field is as much the fans as it is the venue. Still, I’ve enjoyed the chance to announce in other venues and look forward to doing more in the future.
Do you prepare for the Trials differently than any other meet you announce?
PS: I’ll be teaming up with Garry Hill (editor of Track and Field News) to announce the Trials. We’ve now worked several meets together (Pre, USATF Championships, Pac-12 Championships) so I think we have a good chemistry. With two “voices” it allows us to do a lot more homework and we’ll be able to give each event full coverage. In some meets there is almost too much going on to keep track of, but at the Trials all of the athletes deserve to be on stage.
What are you most excited about this year during TrackTown12?
PS: This is actually my first Trials as one of the lead announcers. In 2008, the late Scott Davis (longtime Pre Classic and Mt. Sac Relays announcer) and Garry Hill shared the microphone. I did the opening ceremonies, some interviews on the Festival stage and the hammer events outside the stadium. Turned out I was announcing the men’s hammer at the same time as that legendary Men’s 800m finish. Never heard Hayward Field louder but didn’t actually see the race! This time I get the best of both worlds. I will be in Portland to announce Hammer Time at the Nike campus and then join Garry in calling all the events in the venue. I’m just excited to be able to have a role in staging a great event and being one ingredient to the atmosphere of TrackTown USA.
You may have seen this video before, this time close your eyes and listen to the passion and excitement from Paul Swangard!