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If you’ve been to a basketball or football game at Central Hardin High School, you’ve heard his voice bellowing over the PA system. Mike Bell has been the voice of CHHS since it opened in 1990.
Prior to that, he announced games at East Hardin when it was a high school. He announced for girls’ basketball going all the way back to the 1970s.
His office at Glendale Christian Church is lined with plaques featuring previous teams and their photos. There are even more in his office at home.
Both his sons were athletes, but Bell has a plaque in recognition of being in the 5th Region Hall of Fame for his announcing.
He enjoys interacting with students and keeps relationships with them long after their time in sports ends. As a pastor, he has presided over many of their marriages and now sees former players’ children on the court or playing filed.
Sometimes when students have problems, they’ll come to him. He’s more than an announcer to the teams.
Last year he had a heart attack and missed several games. When he came back, players said, “I missed your voice.”
That meant a lot to him.
His influences are everywhere, said Renata Kuchowicz, a girls’ basketball coach at CHHS.
“Mike was the announcer for my games when I was playing at East Hardin and I am fortunate to have him calling our games today. No one can say ‘Kuchowicz’ like he can,” she said. “I know that who I am today has been influenced by having Mike in my life and I am very grateful for that.”
Bell does no voice preparation before the starting line up.
“For the starting line up you take a drink of water, say a prayer and let her rip,” Bell said.
Some names are fun to say, and the more syllables the better because he can draw the name out longer.
He’s mispronounced a few names over the years, but he tries to spell them out phonetically before saying them to make sure he gets them right.
Bell often jokes around with players in his announcements. Sometimes he’ll learn a middle name and say it during the starting line up. Other times he’ll change the order of the line up and the wrong player will get up out of habit, remembering when their name usually is called.
Some of his greatest personal memories came from the last few years East Hardin was a high school. In one game, his youngest son, Chris, was playing and the coach was going to take him out. Chris had 18 points at that time and Bell wanted him to make it to 20. He told the sub he couldn’t go in yet. After Chris scored 20 the coach looked at Bell to ask if the sub could go in and Bell gave him the go ahead. He’s always had that kind of relationship with the coaches.
Chris also scored the very last high school basket at East Hardin. That same night, Bell was humbled when the crowd recognized him with a standing ovation.
But for Bell it all goes back to the kids.
“They’re the ones I want to make it memorable for, not me,” he said.
While he tries to be fair to players from visiting teams, he’ll admit the Central players get a bit more “boom.”
His announcing is part of the CHHS basketball experience, said head boys’ basketball coach J.C. Wright.
“When you walk into Central Hardin to a basketball game, you look forward to hearing him announce the game. He adds an excitement to the game when he announces,” Wright said. “He is a quality person who never hesitates giving time to Central Hardin basketball.”
But as much as Bell loves sports, he is a full-time minister and sometimes has to miss games because of church responsibilities.
“Church comes first and if there’s an emergency or situation they know someone else will have to fill in,” Bell said.
Coaches understand that priority and the church understands why he stays involved with the teams. His church sees it as an extension of its ministry and an outreach to student athletes.
Bell said he’ll keep announcing as long as players want him to. He’d like to announce his granddaughters someday.
THE STATS ON MIKE BELL
Movie: “It’s a Wonderful Life” because, to him, Glendale is Bedford Falls, second favorite is “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”
Book: He likes the writer Max Lucado and the book “On the Anvil.”
Music: Classical and Boston Pops. He listens to Sousa’s marches as he writes sermons to stay upbeat.
TV: “Becker,” “Hawaii 5-0” and “The Mentalist”
Sports: Chicago Cubs, Bengals and Wildcat fan.
Family: He has been married to Sharron since 1966. They have two sons, Jon and Chris, and two granddaughters, Samantha, a freshman softball player at Central Hardin High School, and Caehla, a sixth-grader who plays volleyball at East Hardin Middle School.
Pets: They found a cat on Thanksgiving weekend. They named it Pumpkin and it has become a part of their family.
Hobbies: Announcing sports and church activities.
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or email@example.com .