Pirates' Football Voice Ends 30-Year Run

November 12, 2019

By Tim Robinson
Special for Second Half

PINCKNEY — Bob Reason has been the voice of Pinckney High School football and basketball for more than 30 years.

It’s his voice you heard over the public address system, good times and bad, through wins and losses.

He’s always played it down the middle, in the style of public address announcers at Michigan Stadium.

“I get excited when Pinckney scores,” he said in the Pinckney Stadium press box last week. ‘But I don’t want to take away from the athletes.”

Reason, a 1961 Pinckney graduate who moved back to the house he was born and grew up in during the mid-1980s, announced his last football game Oct. 11, Pinckney’s homecoming game.

Fittingly, it was against Dexter, where Reason lived for more than a decade and, with former Dreadnaughts athletic director Al Ritt, helped pass a bond issue in the 1970s that built a stadium now named for Ritt.

At 76, Reason decided it was time to retire.

“I just enjoyed doing it, but at 76, I feel it’s time,” he said.

He’ll still do Pinckney basketball for at least two more seasons. His son, Tom, is the boys coach and grandson Dylan is a junior.

“I’m going to try to sucker him into announcing for the girls program when my daughter is old enough to play,” Tom said, chuckling. “But he wants to sit in the stands, and sometimes it’s nice to sit there and be a grandpa.”

It will be a well-earned retirement for Reason, whose athletic career at Pinckney ended when he tore a knee ligament on the first play of his senior football season.

He became the Pirates public-address announcer after moving back to Pinckney from the Toledo area.

“One of his first games was announcing my brother’s games,” Tom Reason said. “I remember being a rug rat running around the stands. I thought it was pretty neat. When you’re a young one, you think your dad is the coolest dad in the world because his voice is coming out of the press box.

“To this day, my daughters love it. They always go up and visit him and he gives them candy. It’s a neat thing. I’ve been around Pinckney athletics for a long time, and it’s neat to hear his voice.”

Bob Reason has been active in the community too over the last 30-plus years. He’s served on the Pinckney athletic boosters board and spent a quarter-century running Saturday morning basketball programs at Pinckney, including enlisting varsity players as referees.

And it’s the athletes that kept bringing Bob Reason back to the microphone.

Well, that, and a slight bit of chicanery the last couple of years.

“He tried to retire, but I wouldn’t let him,” former Pinckney athletic director Tedd Bradley said.

“I was going to retire five years ago,” Reason said. “(Bradley) said, ‘OK, but we’ll have to find someone, so you have to do it this year. And then the next year, they didn’t find anyone.”

Current AD Brian Wardlow finally bent to Reason’s wishes this year, hiring Pat Allen, who worked the Pirates’ final home game against Jackson this season.

“There were a lot of people there (at homecoming), and people who had been around for decades got to hear one last game,” Wardlow said. “When I was in Pinckney, Bob was our football announcer, too, so he’s the only voice I’ve ever known in football and basketball.”

And, through his years working for Pinckney athletic programs, generations of Pinckney athletes know him and say hello.

“We went to Disney World as a family a few years ago, and three people came up to us. At Disney World,” Tom Reason said. “They come up and say, ‘Hey, Mr. Reason!’ We can’t go anywhere without someone knowing him.”

Bob Reason said part of the impetus toward retirement was his eyesight, which had been slowly failing due to cataracts the last couple of years. He credits his longtime spotter in the press box, Linda Lambert, with helping him credit the right athletes at the right time.

“Some of the teams that have played have white jerseys with white numbers outlined in black, and it’s hard to see the numbers,” he said. “I could not have done the games the last two years without her.”

The man in the PA booth, so calm with his delivery, is a Pinckney Pirate through and through.

Take the 1989 season, for example.

The Pirates had made the playoffs with an 8-1 record and had drawn a home game with East Grand Rapids in the first round. Below the “Welcome to Pinckney” sign outside of town, he and some co-conspirators hung a sign that said, “Welcome, East Grand Rapids. We’ve been waiting for you.”

East Grand Rapids won the game, 37-30 on a touchdown in the final minutes, and Reason went to Flint to see the Pioneers play Oxford in the next round.

“I had a Pinckney hat on,” Reason said, “and a guy from East Grand Rapids saw my hat and talked to me about the sign.”

The gentleman, as it turned out, was more than a little chapped about the sign.

“I said, ‘We just wanted to welcome you,’” Reason said, laughing at the memory.

After all these years, he said, the games and players all roll together in memory, but the lure of high school sports remains.

“I still think high school athletes give all they’ve got,” Reason said, “every game they play, regardless of position. Athletics is not just about winning. It’s about learning to play with your teammates, developing your skills, trying to be the best you can be and learning life lessons. I think one of the most important things high school athletics gives all of our kids is never to give up. Regardless of what happens in your life, there’s tomorrow, and never give up. Keep trying and keep working, and I think that carries forward into life itself.”

“He’s always super-complimentary about every kid who’s out there trying,” said Wardlow, who grew up in Pinckney and has been employed by the school district since 2002. “It’s important in a community like Pinckney to have that guy you can always count on, and the community knows what it’s going to get.”

Reason said he’s not going anywhere.

“I don’t have any interest in moving,” he said. “I talked about moving to Florida once. I said to my kids, ‘Do any of you want to buy the house? I’ll sell it for $500,000.’ I was joking, of course, and they said, ‘No, Dad. It’s too much. We’ll give you a dollar.’”

So Bob and his wife, Dorothy, are staying in Pinckney.

“The football team gave me a cushioned seat for the stands,” he said. ‘I’ll go to the home games. I love it. I like to watch the band play at halftime.”

Bradley, who retired in 2015, looks forward to attending games with his friend next fall.

“I will enjoy standing next to him at those games,” he said. “Bob is a tremendous gentlemen. He and his family are special people.”

PHOTO: Longtime Pinckney announcer Bob Reason takes his familiar seat in the stadium’s press box. (Photo by Tim Robinson.)

Lawrence's Schuman Sets Example for Well-Rounded Success

By Pam Shebest
Special for MHSAA.com

December 14, 2022

LAWRENCE — If redshirting was a thing in high school, at least two coaches at Lawrence would stick that label on senior John Schuman.

Southwest Corridor“We don’t want to lose this kid ever,” said Derek Gribler, the Tigers’ first-year varsity football and baseball coach.

“If we could put a red shirt on this kid every year, we would.”

Athletic director John Guillean, who also coaches varsity basketball, agreed.

“He is what we strive to have all our student-athletes achieve: high GPAs, multi-sport athletes, good, overall well-rounded human beings,” Guillean said.

Schuman has participated in five of the seven boys sports Lawrence sponsors.

As a freshman and sophomore, Schuman played football, wrestled, ran track and played baseball.

He had wrestled since he was 4, and went from the 119-pound weight class as a freshman to 145 the following year. That sophomore season he qualified for his Individual Regional. But as a junior, he traded wrestling for basketball.

“My older brother wrestled at Lawrence, so I would come to practices,” he said. “I quit for a couple years (in middle school) because I liked basketball, too. It was hard to do both. Obviously, in high school, I still struggled with choosing,” he added, laughing.

John GuilleanGuillean is thrilled Schuman made the switch.

“He’s 6-(foot-)4, he’s super athletic, defensively he’s a hawk, offensively he can put the ball in the bucket. But really, aside from his skills, just that positive attitude and that positive outlook, not just in a game, but in life in general, is invaluable,” the coach said.

Last season, Schuman earned honorable mention all-league honors in the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference, averaging 9.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.

Lawrence left the BCS for the Southwest 10 Conference this year, joining Bangor, Bloomingdale, Hartford, Decatur, Comstock, Marcellus, Mendon, Centreville, White Pigeon and Cassopolis. Schuman and senior Tim Coombs will co-captain the Tigers, with Guillean rotating in a third captain.

At a school of fewer than 200 students, Schuman will help lead a varsity team with just nine – joined by seniors Andy Bowen and Gabe Gonzalez, juniors Christian Smith, Noel Saldana, Ben McCaw and Zander Payment, and sophomore Jose Hernandez, who will see time with the junior varsity as well using the fifth-quarter rule.

“I attribute a lot of (last year’s successful transition) to my coach, helping me get ready because it wasn’t so pretty,” the senior said. “But we got into it, got going, and my teammates helped me out a lot.”

Great anticipation

Gribler is one coach already looking ahead to spring sports after seeing what Schuman did during football season.

In spite of missing 2½ games with an injury, the wide receiver caught 50 receptions for 870 yards and 11 touchdowns.

“I just like the ability to run free, get to hit people, let out some anger,” Schuman laughed.

Derek GriblerGribler said the senior is “an insane athlete.

“On top of his athletic ability, how smart he is in the classroom (3.88 GPA), he helped mold the culture we wanted this year for football. He got our underclassmen the way we wanted them. He was a big asset in many ways.”

Schuman earned all-conference honors for his on-field performance in football as well.

“I would say that my main sport is football,” the senior said. “That’s the one I like the most, spend the most time on.”

In the spring, Schuman competed in both track and baseball, earning all-conference honors in both.

“Doing both is tough,” he said. “I have to say my coaches make it a lot easier for me. They help me a lot and give me the ability to do both, so I really appreciate that.

“Throughout the week you’re traveling every day, it seems like. Baseball twice a week and track, but it’s worth it.”

Schuman’s commitment is so strong that he made a special effort not to let his teammates down last spring.

“He qualified for state in the long jump and did his jumps up in Grand Rapids, then he drove all the way to Kalamazoo to play in the District baseball game,” Guillean said. “That speaks volumes about who this kid is. He did his jumps at 9 a.m. (but did not advance) and made it back to Kalamazoo for a 12:15 game.”

Big shoes to fill

As the youngest of four children of Mark and Gretchen Schuman, the senior was following a family tradition in sports.

Oldest brother Matthew played football, basketball and baseball as well as competed in pole vault and wrestling.

Middle bother Christopher competed in football, wrestling and baseball.

Sister Stephanie played basketball, volleyball and softball.

“I like to say they blazed a pretty good trail for me at this high school,” Schuman said.

As for feeling pressure to live up to his siblings, “I used to when I was younger, but now I feel like I’ve made my own way and done enough things to be proud of that I’m happy with it.”

His own way led him to achieve something none of the others did.

He was named the Tigers’ Male Athlete of the Year, just the third junior to earn the boys honor over the last 25 years.

“I was very honored to win that as a junior,” Schuman said. “There were good athletes in the grade above me. I guess hard work pays off.”

Guillean said while Schuman is “darn good at every sport here,” an athlete does not have to be a “top dog” in every sport.

“Learn how to take a back seat,” he said. “Learn how to be a role player. That will make you a better teammate and a well-rounded human being.

“Johnny has that work ethic, in the classroom, on the field, on the court, on the track. It doesn’t go unnoticed and, obviously, he’s reaping the benefits now.”

Pam ShebestPam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She can be reached at pamkzoo@aol.com with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Lawrence’s John Schuman has participated in five varsity sports during his first 3½ years of high school. (Middle) Lawrence athletic director John Guillean. (Below) Lawrence football and baseball coach Derek Gribler. (Action photos courtesy of John Schuman; head shots by Pam Shebest.)