HURON —When the S.D. Class “B” State girls’ basketball tournament tips off at Huron Arena Thursday afternoon, the stands will be filled with fans – students, parents, grandparents – as well as those who just recognize a love of the game.
Many of them will have taken time off from work to be there and support their team.
But one person is taking time off from his day job. He’ll attend every game of every session and he does his best to make sure that he shows no favoritism, but just helps people enjoy the game.
He’s Josh Haeder and he’s the public address announcer for Huron Arena, a job that gives him one of the best seats in the house.
Haeder will be taking time off from his ‘regular’ job, as the elected South Dakota State Treasurer, the minder of South Dakota’s checkbook.
“Yes, I need to be sure to mention that I AM taking time off from Pierre to come back for the State Tournament,” Haeder said with a grin in his voice earlier this week.
As the State Treasurer, Haeder and his staff of eight individuals track and monitor the people’s money for the State of South Dakota.
“We do that and we also work hard at returning unclaimed property in the state,” Haeder said, “that is tasked to our office.” Haeder said that he and his staff have hit the ground running this year, starting with his swearing in, followed closely by the 2019 legislative session.
“We have some legislation that will streamline some of the Treasurer’s activities and we also have some big projects that we have been working on in the office that we will be rolling out soon.”
But this weekend, Haeder will be back at his seat at center court, introducing the starting lineups and more for each team and each game. In between, he keeps the crowd at Huron Arena apprised on what is happening on the court.
“I always enjoyed hearing Mark Peiffer when he did the public address at Huron Tiger games,” Haeder said of his predecessor at Huron Arena. “I really liked his voice and I’ve tried to do the same things that he did. He kind of got the crowd going when he made the starting lineup introductions and then became a voice that was just there to convey the information.” Haeder said that he tries to just let people know if it was a two-point or three-point basket, who the foul was on or what the call was if there is a question.
It’s the starting lineup intros that people associate with Haeder, as he channels his inner Ray Clay. Fans may not know Clay by name, but when you hear “And now, the starting lineup for your Chicago Bulls” over the rhythmic pounding bass of The Alan Parsons Project song “Sirius,” everything will snap into place.
“We’re going to do a little bit more for the tournament,” Haeder said. “There will be a band each day, but we’re going to have a little fun with music during times where there isn’t action, but that the band isn’t playing either. I am really looking forward to it. And Allen Parsons may make an appearance Saturday night.”
While Haeder will be doing the public address for this weekend’s “B,” it will be his final state tournament, as his job commitment and move to Pierre makes it difficult to continue. “There is a chance I could stay involved for Huron games, if schedules work out, but this will be my last tournament.”
For his part, Haeder said that he thoroughly enjoys welcoming fans to Huron Arena and does his best to make sure they leave with a lasting memory.
“Class ‘B’ basketball is just so great; the fans support those small schools so well and when you combine that with the atmosphere of a state tournament, there really isn’t anything better,” Haeder said. “And when you combine that with hosting a tournament at Huron Arena, which is, in my opinion, the absolute best place to watch a ballgame in the state…there is just nothing better!”