Stubbs is ‘Voice of Cathedral soccer’

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 24, 2008

“Chipped into the box, headed up in the air, and headed in for a goal! It’s a goal! It’s a goal!”

One of the many excitable soccer announcers in the English Premier League? How about a Serie A announcer in Italy? Not even a Major League Soccer announcer?

Nope. That is the voice of Kenneth Stubbs as he announced a Cathedral soccer match.

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Stubbs has been announcing Cathedral soccer games over the public address system as a volunteer since the inception of the sport at the school in 1995.

Stubbs, a local physician, said he knew nothing about the sport until he started coaching his sons in youth soccer in the early 90s. He soon fell in love with it, studied the game and became certified as a high school referee.

He didn’t intend to become the voice of the Green Wave, but sort of fell into the job due to his knowledge of the game.

“Back when we first started having a team, most folks had no understanding of the game at all,” Stubbs said. “The referees would make a call and everyone would look at me and ask me what had happened because I had been a coach and had referee training. Finally some folks said I should get up in the press box on the microphone and let everyone know what was going on.”

And that’s how it began. Stubbs, whose four sons have all played soccer at Cathedral and whose youngest son Julian is a junior for the team this year, has been calling out names and talking the crowd through the action for the past 14 years.

Cathedral girls coach David Gaudé said Stubbs’ announcing brings excitement to the game that isn’t there otherwise due to the usual low crowd turnout and cold conditions.

“You go a lot of places and there aren’t a lot of people there and it’s real quiet,” Gaudé said. “He’s very knowledgeable about the game and keeps everybody informed about what’s going on.”

Stubbs distinctive voice isn’t just heard by the fans inside D’evereux Stadium. It extends quite a bit beyond the stadium fences.

“People who live around the school will come up to me and say ‘You had a game last night, didn’t you,’” Gaudé said. “I’ll ask them how they knew and they’ll tell me ‘We heard Stubbs.’”

He even has a catch-phrase, calling the corner kick “the most dangerous play in soccer.” There aren’t many other schools that have soccer announcers, but his catch phrase has already been copied by some of them.

“That call is famous all over Mississippi,” Gaudé said. “We’ve gone several places on the road to play and had announcers there say that.”

Stubbs’ play-by-play keeps a generally neutral tone. He’s excited when Cathedral scores, of course, but also complements the other team and the referees as well.

That hasn’t always been the case, however.

“I originally did it as a fan and parent, and would criticize the referees for what I thought were bad calls,” Stubbs said. “There was a game a few years ago where I just lost it. The other team’s kids were hitting our kids and the refs lost control of the game. I was saying things like ‘I can’t believe that, that should be a red card!’ They came up at halftime and made me shut it down.”

However, a conversation with referee and former Cathedral soccer coach Rick Freeman helped Stubbs rein in his emotions.

“I was giving the referees a hard time and he came up into the press box and said ‘You can’t say those things and incite the crowd,’” Stubbs said. “And he was right. That made a big impression on me. I’ve gotten much better over the years.”

While Stubbs has pulled back on the referee critiques and chastising the other team, his infectious enthusiasm for the game remains.

Cathedral players say it just isn’t the same when Stubbs isn’t at the microphone.

“When he is up there announcing, it makes me want to go out and play super hard. It gets me pumped,” Cathedral senior Sarah Zuccarro said.

“When he’s not here, it doesn’t even feel like a game, it feels like practice,” fellow senior Madeline Jeansonne said.

Another Lady Wave senior player, Joanna David, said Stubbs announcing is “magical.”

“It motivates us so much when he is calling our names,” David said. “It’s like a magical feeling. It’s part of what Cathedral soccer is all about.”

In addition to supporting Cathedral, Stubbs said he announces to get more people interested in the sport he loves.

“Americans don’t get crazy about the sport like they do in the rest of the world,” Stubbs said. “This is my attempt to get people involved and get them to enjoy the game. People at the other schools come here and enjoy it. You’ve also got people who don’t like it so much.”

While Stubbs’ youngest son has one more year in the Cathedral soccer program, Stubbs says he will continue announcing as long as the Green Wave program wants him.

“I’m going to continue to announce as long as they will let me do it,” Stubbs said. “I really enjoy doing it. I think it means more to me than it does to anybody else.”