The Redmen nickname issue took another turn this week as a long time MSHS radio announcer was relieved of his duties, after 25 years of being the man at the mic.
John Thomsen, seen above, and known throughout town for his decades of involvement in the sports community, saw his career as the voice of MSHS hockey, as well as other sports, come to an unceremonious end.
It was a few months ago when the MAPS school board, to the chagrin of many, officially retired the Redmen nickname. Though the related Indianhead graphic had been entirely shelved some time ago, the Redmen moniker lived on until the board voted 4 to 3, officially putting an end to its use.
But it seems “putting an end to its use” is easier said, or not said, than done. And that’s the crux of the John Thomsen story. Having rolled “Redmen” off his tongue thousands of times over the years, Thomsen struggled, in the heat of battle, to delete his “Redmen” default setting and scrub it from his game vocabulary.
So, after trying, but failing to respond to the encouragement, or warning, from radio station and school officials to curtail his Redmen references, John offered to turn in his equipment and the offer was accepted.
John is the first to admit he violated the new directive, copping to as many as 70 instances… in one game, when he fell back on his routine use of the word.
Side note… with its speed and constant change of possession and direction, hockey has to be one of the hardest sports for play-by-play, so adjusting to new announcer rules might be harder than you think.
Was this some kind of power play by a respected voice in protest of the Redmen ouster? According to John, “No. I don’t have a dog in that fight.” In fact, it was nothing more than his inability to make a clean break from something rooted in years of service.
A look at the bigger picture shows a possible overreaction by those in charge, as they, and many others subject to the change, struggle with the new dynamic. It likely doesn’t help that no replacement for the old nickname has yet been determined, which leaves announcers in the lurch as they try to be as descriptive as possible, without violating their code of conduct.
Though John is finding out the hard way how much his work has been appreciated by the MSHS faithful, he’s certainly not seeking any sympathy. “I fall back on the strength I gain from my belief in God,” he says, and with that he still wakes up with a smile on his face… also seen above.
There’s always the possibility that public backlash prompts the decision-makers to reconsider his dismissal. Is an honest mistake made by a highly regarded member of the team cause for such dramatic action? One question I always like to ask is… Did anybody get hurt? No, they didn’t. Could John be given a little more time to work through it? Yes, he could.
If the decision stands, John’s prepared to look at other ways to bring his voice back into the homes of passionate hockey fans. Today’s technology might provide him with a new vehicle to continue doing what he loves… and what people love him doing.
You’d think it’d make you happy if you no longer had to hit the road to Calumet in mid-February to sit behind a mic for three hours while your toes turn blue line blue and your teeth chatter so much you struggle to celebrate a Redmen… er, Marquette hat trick. You’d think. But that’s not John Thomsen.
All John has ever wanted is to be a part of the team and call the games… whenever and wherever.