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Posted By: Sharon R Becker (email)
Date: 1/8/2017 at 13:00:02

The Lamoni Chronicle
Lamoni, Decatur County, Iowa

JOE SHELTON: 30 Years of Memories

In 1985, Graceland University’s Athletic Department asked Joe Shelton to temporarily cover PA Field Announcement duties for home football games. “I thought I’d work a couple games and then turn it back to the regular announcer,” Shelton said. This year marked the first time in 30 years that someone else was behind the microphone at Huntsman Field.

For his contributions, Shelton was an inductee in the 2016 Graceland University Hall of Fame. “He has served the Graceland community in various ways over the years, dedicating countless hours as the home announcer, ‘the voice of Yellowjacket football,’ and as the official scorekeeper for Yellowjacket basketball” are a few of the tributes on the HOF plaque. “It was truly an honor to induct Joe into the Yellowjacket Hall of Fame,” Joe Worlund, Graceland University Athletic Director, said. “His years of service to athletics is well worthy of the recognition. Joe bleeds blue and gold and is the standard for distinguished service to athletics. His dedication as the voice of Yellowjacket football makes him an icon and truly unreplaceable.”

As Yellowjacket Football Team voice, the Centralia, Illinois, native missed only three games during his tenure. As field announcer, Shelton had to have a strong knowledge of college football, including rules and positions – specific knowledge of Graceland University’s football team and its traditions. Shelton announced starting line-ups, all game action, public address announcements, presentations, contests, and homecoming activities. He called the first few years of his tenure without a spotter until his teenage son, Matt, joined him in the booth to help out. “Learning how to pronounce names was one aspect of my duties that I thought was most important,” Shelton said. “I wasn’t always successful. Occasionally a parent of one of the players would knock on the press box door to correct me during the game.”

Shelton wasn’t just the field announcer pronouncing player names – the runner or tackler, down and distance, and place on the field. He was the person people in the stands felt they knew. “For years one of the signs of GU football was the smell of grilled onions wafting through the stands,” Shelton said. “When the person who grilled the onions left, grilled onions left with her. It wasn’t too long until there was a rap on the press box door asking where were the grilled onions – then several more thumps. Finally, I passed their complaints along – and grilled onions were back. So, I guess I’m the Ambassador for Grilled Onions, too.”

As field announcer, Shelton called all home games. “One year, Graceland played host to Mayville State University of Mayville North Dakota,” Carl McGuire, who shared booth activities, said. “The game was held at Vikings’ stadium in Minneapolis. Since Graceland was the host team, we provided the press box crew consisting of Joe – announcer and Larry Sturgis – game clock with me on the play clock. It was a special time for all of us and a thrill to work in the Vikings’ stadium. It was also a special time since the Yellow Jackets won the game 27-7.”

“I wasn’t ever nervous except for homecoming games,” Shelton said. “There was always so much to do and remember – the crowd was the largest of the year. I look back and think of plays – and players. I remember our 0-10 year and going 9-1 – I’m still waiting for a perfect win season. I appreciate everyone who contributed to making GU football successful over the years – the chain gang, spotters, radio broadcasters. Mostly I remembered we yelled and cheered with the ebb and flow of the game. It was a great time.”

Photograph courtesy of The Lamoni Chronicle:
Joe Shelton sits in the Graceland University press booth and looks out on the field – both empty but full of memories.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, January of 2017


Decatur Biographies maintained by Sharon R. Becker.
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