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Mike Tussey: Whatever you do in life, give it all you’ve got; you’ll be thankful for all the memories

In everyday life, things just happen. You don’t anticipate it, you don’t see it coming.

But, it hits you point blank and then you respond the best you can.

Events such as those over time involved my long time friend and broadcasting colleague, Denny Wright and me.

It was 2006 and both Denny and I were on separate avenues of our lives. We had not even met.

It began with Northern Kentucky University’s Athletic Director, Jane Meier contacting me in regard to an open position and my availability.

I responded quickly as she offered me a position of assuming the role of play by play announcer for the NKU women’s basketball team and analyst for the men’s games as well.

The plan was for me to join the current men’s play by play announcer Denny Wright for both games. Denny would call the play by play for the Norse men’s game. I would call play by play for the women’s games. We would now combine to represent NKU Basketball on the radio broadcasts for the new season of 2006-2007.

As it all began, I immediately recognized that Denny was an ultimate pro. He was well spoken, very articulate with great knowledge of the game, punctuated by a fine voice.

The new Voices of the Norse were on their way.

The season of 2006-2007 was passing by quickly as Denny and I began to mesh with our chemistry, style knowledge of the game, and commentaries. Our dialogues were short, to the point, and with a style that complimented each other’s responses. Simply put, we quickly became a very good tandem, but always leaving a path to humor or personal insights.

The 2007-2008 NKU women’s season would indeed become the “Season that Was.”

The weeks passed with the regular season ending and the final DII NCAA Poll gave the NKU women one solitary vote. That was it. Nowhere near the Top 25.

Nevertheless, I began to notice that the NKU women had begun to achieve another level of performance game after game and won the Midwest Region in Missouri. Next up, was the Elite 8 in Kearney, Nebraska.

No bus trips this time, it was time to fly.

Subsequently, the NKU women won the 2008 NCAA DII Championship in 2008 which was NKU’s second Championship, the earlier being in 2000. 2023 is now the 15th Anniversary of NKU’s 2nd National Title when the women defeated South Dakota 63-58 ending their 31 Game win streak.

Northern Kentucky University was truly the “Cinderella Team” of the 2008 NCAA DII Womens National Championship.

The game winning photo shows the final score and vividly depicts, “The Thrill of Victory, and the Agony of Defeat.” NKU’s Nicole Chiodi, Angela Healy and Jesse Slack are shown embracing the historic incredible victory. The Norse women in exciting order, defeated Wingate, Alaska-Anchorage and the Coyotes to bring home the NCAA National Trophy.

Here are two huge facts for the books:

• First, of the two NKU NCAA Women’s Championships, Denny Wright called the Play by Play for the Norse in 2000. I called the Play by Play in 2008.

• Secondly, we were both inducted into the prestigious Northern Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame just weeks ago.

Northern Kentucky University Hall of Fame Coach Nancy Winstel, finished her fine 29 year career in 2012 with 636 wins at 75% and two NCAA National Championships. Professor Emeritus of NKU, Robert K Wallace was chronicling the incredible 2008 season game by game for his upcoming Book “13 Women Strong.”

He expressed his thoughts, “I listened to Mike and Denny for every road game when I was writing my new book about the NKU women’s team. I could not have done it without them.”

Two years passed quickly and in 2010, John Erardi, a sportswriter was sitting next to me at courtside at the NKU Arena.

A time out occurred and John asked, “Are you Mike?”

I replied, “Yes, I was.”

He told me that he loved listening to Denny and me calling NKU Basketball and would like to interview us both after the game. In just a few days, John’s next column appeared quickly with the headline,

So, the seasons passed by, but not without some vivid memories that still resonate today.

Denny remembers, “The very heavy antique Zercon which served as our mixer for Saints football games was named “Big Bertha” and for good reason, it weighed abound 75 lbs. Having to carry it up 90 steps to the press box was a continuing nightmare. I will never forget the 11-hour bus ride to Kansas City and then doing it again on the road back home was brutal. One of the greatest memories happened at Morgantown when NKU played West Virginia and the Norse’s Eschaunte “Bear” Jones hit a 3 to win it over Bob Huggin’s Mountaineers.”

I remember when Mike took a seat on the bus that he normally did not sit in next to me. Coach Bezold seeing this, instantly directed Mike back to the seat he usually occupied across the aisle.Coaches are very superstitious and they will call you on it every time because in a Coach’s world, you never mess with a winning streak.

When we were in Nebraska for the NCAA Women’s Elite 8 at the team’s pregame meals, Coach Nancy Winstel directed everyone to sit in the exact same seat at the same restaurant each time we dined.

It must have worked perfectly as the NKU women won the NCAA DII 2008 National Championship.

Without any doubt, the most devastating memory was in Pittsburgh when Thomas More was playing Carnegie Mellon in September.

It was 96 humid degrees outside and our small little press box room had no AC or fan and the windows didn’t open. Bertha conked out on us that day in the 100 degree heat in our press box. It was Murphy’s Law, no doubt. In broadcasting, the challenges like this pop up so many times. Like they say, you improvise and you overcome. And, overcome we did. We got on the air, just in time for the kickoff.

The next 4 seasons passed by quickly.

One of NKU’s solid fans, Katherine Racke remembered, “I always listened to Mike and Denny calling the Norse games on Radio when they were on the road. I am sure their broadcasts always brought excitement to the listeners, they sure did for me.”

Then in 2012 soon after the season ended, NKU replaced us and just like that, we were gone.

Then opportunity came knocking again.

This time, Denny and I would move to Thomas More College in 2014 to call the Football SAINTS ON RADIO.

Saints Super Fan Shawn Handlon remembers, “I was so impressed that Mike and Denny knew so many pertinent facts about the Saints and our opponents for every game. I think they really genuinely cared about the Saints, you could feel it through every broadcast of the magical seasons we had.”

The Saints fans that were tailgating always set up large speakers to listen to us as the game progressed.

In 2015, HOF Coach Regis Scafe led the Saints to an 11-1 regular season while winning the PAC Championship with a sterling (8-0 ) record. The 2015 season was indelibly marked with the untimely death of one of the Saints, Mitch Kramer who passed away. These two events spawned my very popular second book, “TOUCHDOWN SAINTS.”

Once again, the years passed by quickly and the 2018 season ended. Then we received the news we were never expecting. We were being replaced. So, turning the pages again, we both went our separate ways.

Denny became Thomas More’s Public Address Announcer and I joined ESPN+ to call Morehead State University Basketball.

The calendar may have turned, but once upon a time, Denny Wright and I like to feel that we left our mark while broadcasting NCAA College Basketball and Football.

Certainly, our resumes span much more that what was depicted here today.

The adventures were so many, but looking back, we wouldn’t trade it for the game ball. From Denny and me, Thanks for all the Memories.

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One Comment

  1. Ric Robinson says:

    You’ve certainly had an incredible life!!!

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