The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

September 22, 2013

Behind the Mic: Hoberecht made a career out of his favorite pastime

By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — For 15 years, broadcasting Enid High School sports events was a hobby for Jay Hoberecht, who was working as the administrator for the Northwest Orthopedic Clinic.

Nine years ago, Hoberecht — then in his mid-50s — went to Williams Hammer Broadcasting owner Kyle Williams about broadcasting full-time for KGWA and KOFM.

He would be hired as the sports director for both stations. At 68, Hoberecht is entering his 25th year as the voice of EHS basketball and his 20th in football. He also broadcasts EHS fastpitch softball games that can be heard on KGWA’s website.

“It wasn’t a hard decision at all,’’ said Hoberecht about his career change. “It was good for me. It was something that I wanted to do. I wanted to finish out my work career doing something that I really love. I was ready for a change of pace.’’

Hoberecht was drawn into broadcasting by KGWA’s Steve Kasey, a close friend whom he had gotten to know from local banking circles.

Hoberecht originally was the color commentator for Kasey’s play-by-play. When Kasey’s health started to fail, Hoberecht became the play-by-play announcer.

“Steve was a great guy,’’ Hoberecht said. “He was my mentor.’’

Hoberecht adapted Kasey’s laid back style. Kasey’s philosophy of broadcasting was “that I’m doing it for the kids.’’

That’s something Hoberecht, too, has adopted.

“I enjoy being around the kids so much,’’ he said. “It’s fun visiting them. It keeps me tuned in with them, and what’s going on in the younger world.’’

He misses Kasey’s humor and all-around spirit. Hoberecht has had a close relationship with broadcast partners Kasey, Steve Bittle, Chuck Hart and Randy Floyd, his current sidekick.

“A lot of humorous moments happen traveling the highways and byways of Oklahoma,’’ Hoberecht said. “We solved all the world’s problems. The only problem is that nobody asked us for answers. We had a lot of fun on those trips. That’s was the best part of the job.’’

Hoberecht has kept one of Kasey’s catch phases. Kasey called a gain of 25 yards or more “a bus ride.’’

“In honor of Steve Kasey, I continue to use that,’’ Hoberecht said. “I always try to give him credit for it.’’

Hoberecht’s athletic background was in basketball and baseball.

He was a starting guard on Northwest Classen’s 1964 state championship basketball team.

He described himself as a player who could pass the ball and play defense.

He was a third baseman and center fielder on a state runner-up baseball team. He declined an offer to walk on  in basketball at Southwestern Oklahoma State and went on to graduate from Oklahoma State University.

“I had a really solid basketball coach in Don VanPool,’’ Hoberecht said. “He taught me a lot about the game of basketball and a lot about life. I learned life lessons from coach Van Pool that have served me throughout my life.’’

Hoberecht had one of those life lessons in the spring of 2005 when he suffered a heart attack.

“That was a wakeup call for me,’’ he said. “It did change my lifestyle. I learned some things about myself through that experience. I tried to turn it into something positive in my life,’’

Hoberecht had both a son (Brian, now basketball coach at San Jacinto, Texas Junior College) and a daughter, (Alyson, now a teacher in California) play basketball for Enid High School.

He didn’t broadcast any of Brian’s games, but he did the color for Alyson’s senior season. The Pacers won one game that season — the senior finale at El Reno.

“It wasn’t that difficult to be involved that year,’’ Hoberecht said.

Hoberecht doesn’t see himself as a “homer,’’ but admits “I certainly favor the Plainsmen and Pacers, but in a realistic way.’’

“You do high school sports in a different way than you do college,’’ said Hoberecht, who does an OSU football report over KGWA. “It’s a totally different level.’’

The one thing he doesn’t tolerate “is a lack of effort.’’ He said he tries not to second guess, but says he “tries to impart the feeling of the game to his listeners.’’

Hoberecht has done games for five EHS football coaches — Craig Simmons, Ed Jones, Tom Cobble, Tommy Parker and now Steve Chard.

He said he had good relationships with all five, but his most memorable season was 2006 when Cobble took EHS to the state championship game for the first time since 1983.

“That was really special,’’ Hoberecht said. “I will always remember that team.’’

Hoberecht did not play football in high school.

“I had a learning curve in football,’’ he said. “I had to learn some of the jargon and techinque. I’ve worked hard to have a better understanding of the game.’’

His biggest challenge is keeping up with more uptempo offenses in both football and basketball. His biggest regret is “sometimes you can’t give the right person credit for a play because you can’t see his number.’’

Broadcasting high school football can be a logistical challenge.

He had to do Enid’s Sept. 6 football game at Choctaw from his cell phone.

But one of his more difficult broadcast moments came  when he returned to Taft Stadium — the home of his alma mater Northwest Classen — and found the press box to be in bad shape.

“I was afraid I was going to go through the floor board at Taft Stadium,’’ he said. “It had only one outlet for electricity. We had to get a bunch of different splitters to get electricity for everybody. It was a nightmare.’’

Hoberecht has seen a number of technical changes, the biggest maybe being on the Internet, where his broadcasts can be heard around the world.

“You try to keep up with the changes,’’ Hoberecht said. “I don’t get a lot of feedback. People tell me they listen and enjoy the broadcast. I have friends that I ask to give me constructive criticism. I want to stay sharp and do a good job.’’

Hoberecht is taking his broadcasting future on a year-to-year basis. He does a daily sports report at 7:54 a.m., which can come awfully early after being on the road the night before.

“I’ve been blessed to work with Mr. Williams,’’ he said. “He has supported me and encouraged me. I haven’t lost my enthusiasm. I really enjoy the kids.’’