Voicing his love for Pfeiffer

Over a round of golf one day about 10 years ago, Steve Cumming and Jack Ingram started talking about new developments on Pfeiffer’s campus.

Ingram, a professor in the sport management program, had taught Cumming in his major subject, and both were active alumni.

Ingram, now retired and a member of Pfeiffer’s Sports Hall of Fame, was serving as deputy athletic director at Pfeiffer at the time, and he had coached its softball and women’s basketball teams. He mentioned that an opening had emerged for a public address announcer for the home games of the men’s and women’s basketball teams at Pfeiffer. He urged Cumming to consider filling the position.

Steve Cumming

Cumming, the director of dual enrollment programs at Stanly Community College, wasn’t sure: “I said, ‘Jack, I’ve never done that before. I like sports, but that’s a lot different than PAing sports.’ ”

Undeterred, Ingram persuaded Cumming to give announcing a try at a fall scrimmage, and the experience went well for all involved. Cumming has been the Voice of the Falcons for basketball games ever since; this means he’s working the microphone for as many as 25 games each winter. He also serves as a fill-in announcer for soccer, baseball and lacrosse games.

Initially, Pfeiffer paid Cumming to announce. He eventually waived his fee, coming to view the job as one more way to serve his alma mater as an alumnus. He is also now a volunteer member of the University’s Sports Hall of Fame Committee.

A former student-athlete on the men’s golf team, Cumming has walked the walk as a Falcon. He has also recruited many an alumnus to play for Pfeiffer.

Before his appointment at Stanly Community College, he served the university as vice president for enrollment management, meeting his wife Michelle McInturff Cumming in the process.

“I’ve been around the Department of Athletics at Pfeiffer since I became a student in the fall of 1987,” he said. “So, announcing was an easy thing to volunteer for, and it has turned out to be a great pastime. I enjoy supporting all the sports.”

Cumming may view announcing as a fun activity, but he approaches it with a high degree of professionalism. This begins with preparation. Before each game, for example, he familiarizes himself with key information such as the names of opposing teams’ players and coaches, as well as who’s apt to get the most playing time. He arrives about an hour before each game so he can ask the coaches of opposing teams how to pronounce certain players’ names.

“I always want things to come off as seamlessly as possible during the game,” he said.

During games, Cumming keeps his own stat sheet so he can report key developments about fouls, etc., without delay. He also aims to “stay out of the way and not be noticed” — delivering only the most important information (mainly scoring plays and fouls) and doing it in a way that doesn’t draw undue attention.

“That way, the spectators enjoy the game without distraction,” he said.

The few exceptions to this approach happen when a Pfeiffer player enjoys unusual success on the court. When Pfeiffer guard Ty Black hit four 3-pointers in a row during his team’s recent victory over N.C. Wesleyan, for example, Cumming announced it with an extra dose of enthusiasm, lingering over the “y” and “a” in Black’s name.

Cumming said he’ll continue to serve as PA announcer for basketball games and other sports “for as long as they’ll have me.” His strong commitment is rooted in two reasons. The first: “I have the best seat in the house. I’m 10 feet from the action, and I’ve loved sports all my life.”

The second, more important reason, is a desire to show gratitude to Pfeiffer.

When Cumming enrolled at Pfeiffer, having attended Mount Tabor High School in Winston-Salem, he was a bit apprehensive.

“I didn’t know anybody, and everybody seemed to know somebody,” he said. “I was kind of on my own.”

Like many other Pfeiffer students, though, Cumming quickly experienced “a small school that took me in and made me feel comfortable.”

“I got a wonderful experience academically and socially,” he added. “I just couldn’t have asked for a better college career. I had a great mentor in Jack Ingram and met lifelong friends along the way. Pfeiffer has enriched my life; PA announcing is just one very small way to give back to a school that has meant so much to me.”