Inside the box

Todd Vanderwerff

Todd Vanderwerff

Noise flows through the Coughlin Alumni Stadium press box creating an ever-trickling stream of sound.

“That was a 14 yard run.”

“Looks like they’re spotting it at the 35.”


In the press box, old friends come together to watch football and comment loudly on it, every so often scrawling illegible scratches in notebooks.

These old friends travel from just down the street or from other states to watch the game and, perhaps more importantly, report on it.

There sits Stu Whitney, long-time reporter and sports columnist for The Argus Leader munching serenely on the numerous snacks provided by the university for the ever-hungry working press.

“They’ve gotta get their offense in gear,” he comments to no one in particular.

This is Hobo Day and members of the press from Sioux Falls, Brookings and Grand Forks have crowded into the small space to sit on uncomfortably cold metal chairs and do their jobs.

Just down the hall, the radio booth door will open momentarily when one of the two broadcasters need to cough or sneeze. The rapidfire radio commentary floats above the other press box occupants, providing a quiet symphony of sports-talk.

“And the Jackrabbits recover the fumble at the UND 29! First down, Jacks!”

And the door shuts, the cough or sneeze finished. Once again, the radio broadcast is cut off and the press box collapses into a wheezy silence.

And yet, it is never quite silent. After a few minutes in the press box, one learns to tune out the constant patter of Jason Hove and the SDSU sports information team.

However, when a big play is made and a reporter needs the exact information on what happened, it is easy to tune back in, twirling the radio-dial of the ear back to the team’s unique frequency.

“Yeah … that’s a … 15-yard run for quarterback Kelby Klosterman.”

“He’s gonna have a new personal best today.”

Intermittently, a film crew from UND provides salty comments from the room directly next to the main press box room. The crew seems to consist entirely of one old man whose entire commentary comes laced with gloriously profuse profanity.

“BULLS***,” he screams after a particularly bad call by a referee.

Completing the picture is SDSU sports information director Ron Lenz, manuevering his way between the numerous journalists, handing off packets of statistics, hamburgers or whatever else is needed to make sense of the jumble on the field.

Through it all, he remains jovial and friendly, meeting and greeting with a firm handshake and occasionally passing on scores for other NCC games or the baseball playoffs. This is his domain.

At the end of the game, the press box deflates of noise as the reporters wander down to the large trailer behind the visiting team bleachers to interview coaches and players, hoping for that perfect sound bite.

The press box sits lean and empty, growing dark, waiting to spring back to life on another hazy Saturday.