The Voice of the Panthers

For fifteen years he has been the voice of Middlebury hockey, first in the old Duke Nelson Arena and now in the spacious confines of the Chip Kenyon ’85 Arena. Yet for many, who have enjoyed the smooth delivery and timely information delivered over the PA system to excite the partisan home crowd, the voice is the only thing people know about Dave Sears.

“I’ve been doing this for fifteen years and tonight’s championship is actually my 73rd game in 102 nights, counting all the PA action and radio broadcasts I do for high school hockey, boy’s and girls’ basketball and of course, Middlebury hockey.”

Dave Sears prepares for the championship starting lineup announcements.

Dave Sears prepares for the championship starting lineup announcements.

Sears loves his role as the public address announcer primarily due to being a part of the overall experience for the rabid fans that follow the six-time national champion Panthers. “The greatest part of this job is knowing the kids. It’s really all about these kids and I am just happy to be a small part of it. One of the unique experiences has been riding on the team bus when we do the road radio broadcasts. We really get to know the kids and it’s a great experience. This season has perhaps, the most unusual player relationship in that I have called or been involved with senior Levi Doria from Ripton, Vt. for eight years — four years of high school and four years of college. I am not sure I will ever be blessed with that kind of relationship again but it has been special especially at a local level.”

Dave has a few simple rules as the PA announcer at “The Chip” that differs from his on-air radio persona. “First, I never use my name in announcing the game events in the arena. Second, I just want to add to the fans’ experience. I want to be anonymous in the way that I can use inflection and timing to get the crowd involved in a positive way.”

As Middlebury readied to host St. Thomas in the D-III championship game tonight, Sears will be as juiced as the players. “In welcoming the fans to tonight’s championship game over the PA, I will have goosebumps. Last year, when I got to go on the ice over at Norwich after title number six was an awesome thing. I have been here for all six titles and hope that I can see number seven from my rink side seat in the scorer’s booth tonight.”

Sears is very superstitious. Every night, every game is the same routine. Ten minutes before the game he is in position, not eleven minutes, not nine. “It’s about the routine. We are all superstitious around here so when things are working well we stick to the routine.”

After the second period tonight, the Panthers held a 4-0 lead in trying to win their seventh title. For the Voice of Panther Hockey, two more periods ending in a Panther win would put the cap on his fifteen-year career. “These are great kids and it’s a privilege to be a small part of it.”