For 30 years Waynesville has had a familiar voice at sporting events
WAYNESVILLE — Nelson Morgan, otherwise known as the voice of Waynesville basketball, has received recognition for his years of service from the Missouri Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association.
On April 5, the MIAAA recognized Morgan with a Distinguished Service award for his public address announcing over the last 30-plus years.
Waynesville's Athletic Director, Josh Scott, nominated Morgan last fall. For Scott, there's no one who deserves it more.
“The MIAAA tries to recognize those who make our job easier,” Scott said. “Nelson is one of those guys. To try to think of all the things that he does for us is crazy.”
Morgan's trip to the announcer's table began in 1977 after he was honorably discharged from the US Navy.
He and his wife, Betty Ann, moved to Waynesville shortly after and Morgan began the sports department at KJPW radio.
That's where Butch O'Riley, the basketball coach at Waynesville at the time, had heard Morgan.
“[O'Riley's] team opened play in the Houston basketball tournament in the first week of December in 1981,” Morgan said. “They had someone introducing the players over the speaker system. On the bus ride home, or not too long after that, the kids told Butch that they thought that was neat and they liked it. They asked if they could have that done at Waynesville.”
Morgan popped into O'Riley's head.
“He thought I had the voice for it and he just asked me if I would do it,” Morgan said. “I told him it sounded like fun.”
That fall, Waynesville hired a new football coach — Rick Vernon.
Vernon wanted to have a PA announcer at the football games too, and voila, Morgan's voice was the one booming over the speakers at Tiger football games.
While doing all of this Morgan was also trying to earn his teacher's certification.
By 1983, he had that in hand, and started teaching in the Waynesville School district.
While at Waynesville, Morgan began the local youth soccer program.
He was named the first junio varsity boys soccer coach while also serving as the varsity coach. He also started the girls' program.
Which is pretty good for a guy who didn't think he would be staying in the area long.
“I really started to like it here,” Morgan said. “It was a move from a small radio station to a larger one here and my wife had a very good teaching job here that she liked very much. We bought a house and the next thing I knew, I really felt comfortable in a class room.”
In 1997, Morgan was awarded the Waynesville-St. Robert Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year for his involvement in soccer.
11 years later, Morgan retired from teaching and coaching, but stayed on the microphone at the games.
Waynesville soccer though, was his baby and he didn't want to get too far from it. So, what better to do than to PA for it too?
“They needed somebody to announce the starting lineups and run the scoreboard and clock anyway so I said, 'I'll do that, it's fun.'”
And so it's been Morgan all these years behind the microphone at the basketball, football and soccer matches providing the atmosphere for the fans.
“He loves our kids, our school and our community,” Scott said. “He does a little bit of everything. It's been year in and year out. That's just what Nelson does.”
Morgan shows an incredible amount of dedication to the area teams. It's not just a job for him.
“It's not out of the ordinary to see him at like, Parkview,” Scott said. “He doesn't just stay here, he's a wildman.”
On night's he's unavailable, no one wants to try to fill his large shoes.
“I said it last night at the school board meeting,” Scott said. “The only person crazy enough to take his job when Nelson was gone was a high school senior. No parent or anyone wanted to make that commitment.”
So it's no shocker to hear such a dedicated, hard working staple of the community was honored in such a way at the MIAAA meeting.
Other Athletic Directors from the area knew the name and Scott said it wasn't a hard sell.
Still, it was a shock to receive such praise for the modest Morgan.
“Many of the other people that received the awards were so deserving,” Morgan said. “I am a little bit humbled as a public address announcer to be along with those people the other night.”
He was just glad to have the people that matter to him most in attendance.
O'Riley and Vernon were able to attend as well as Morgan's son from Tennessee who brought his family which included two of Morgan's grandchildren who are 3 and 1.
“I was the only one who had little kids at the banquet and they were just wonderful the whole time,” Morgan said. “They were quiet and busied themselves and we had some space behind the table where they could run a little bit. I don't think most of the people at the banquet knew they were there.”
The same can not be said about the absence of Morgan.
Fans, players and coaches alike miss Morgan when he is not the familiar voice in the Tiger arenas.
“He is one of a kind,” Scott said. “We are so lucky to have him in Tiger Nation.”