For the past 40 seasons, retired Sonora High School teacher Gary Parsons has announced home football games for the school, and has missed only one game in all that time. (Amy Alonzo/Copyright 2003, The Union Democrat).
By JOSHUA WOLFSON
When it comes to Sonora High football, there are few things more consistent than Gary Parsons.
For 40 seasons, Parsons has served as the Wildcats' public address announcer. During the streak, he has endured bad weather, bad teams, and of late, cancer, missing only one game in the process.
"I enjoy doing it and I hope to continue to do it," said the 68-year-old former teacher. "It is just my way of giving something back to Sonora High for what they've given me during the 31 years while I was there."
Parsons' life has been about more than just watching sports. He's also a former aviator, educator and an accomplished, multi-sport athlete.
In fact, his senior high school basketball team was inducted into the Nebraska High School Hall of Fame last year.
"That came unexpectedly, but what the heck, I'll take it," the Nebraska native said with a laugh.
At 13, Parsons began working as a public address announcer at baseball games in Thayer County, Neb. Someone was needed for the job, so he volunteered.
Parsons returned to announcing in 1964, a year after moving to California. He wanted to teach at Sonora High School, and Bob Gibson, the football coach at the time, suggested announcing was a way to get his foot in the door.
When he finally got a teaching job at Sonora High four years later, Parsons found announcing had other advantages it got him out of chaperoning dances.
"Why don't I do something five times a year that I enjoy, rather than once a year stuffing cotton in my ears?" he said.
Since he began calling Sonora High football, Parsons has missed only one home game. In 1997, he and his wife, June, had plans to take a cruise during a non-game week. But when offered an upgrade to a suite on a cruise during a game week, they jumped at the opportunity.
During his time as the announcer, Parsons has seen the best and worst of Wildcat football.
"I can remember times when there were more people in the booth than in the stands because of the weather," he said.