Ohio Valley Unsung Hero: Poisson finds ‘second career’ aiding River

HANNIBAL — Long before anyone steps into the R.L. Potts Gymnasium for a basketball game at River High School, Ramon Poisson is there.

And long after basketball games end inside the R.L. Potts Gymnasium, Poisson is still there.

Some folks call Poisson the “guy that runs the clock” at Pilots basketball games. But he’s more, much more. One only needed to look at the moments before and after this past Friday evening’s boys’ junior varsity and varsity contests vs. Bridgeport to see that.

At about 4:30 p.m., the Sardis resident could be seen plugging in the clock. That’s about an hour-and-a-half before the reserve tip. But he’d been there long before that.

At about 2:30 p.m., Poisson arrived to begin the night’s set-up. That included lowering the bleachers, setting up the scorer’s table and placing out the team chairs, among other things.

It’s all in a day’s work for Poisson, who’s been a familiar face around the Monroe County school for a little more than a decade.

“Some say this is in the middle of nowhere,” Poisson said while taking a break from his staging duties. “But the people are friendly. It’s a great place to be.

“They put their kids first. That’s what I like. I like to help the kids out.”

Poisson is originally from Lakewood, Ohio. And his journey from the Cleveland suburb to the banks of the Ohio River has been a unique, but fulfilling, one, he said.

“Some people say I might as well leave my bed here starting in September,” he laughed. “Because starting in September I’m here almost every day until the end of February.”

If there’s a game, or any kind of a need, Poisson is eager to fill it.

“If they tell me to come, I just just show up and do it.”

If the R.L. Potts Gymnasium’s appearance has been improved in recent years due to various upgrades, Poisson makes sure other things look in tip-top shape on gamenights, and days. He sweeps the playing surface, and even tends to the carpet under the chairs along the bench area with hand-held push sweeper before the teams come out.

And the chairs. Well, anyone who comes to the games can expect them to be in perfect alignment with Poisson on the job.

“I even make the Gatorade,” he noted.

Poisson, 59, is well-versed in making sure things are done right, as he is a veteran of the United Air Force and Army National Guard.

He spent nearly 30 years living in North Dakota, a large portion of it working in missile security.

“I got out of high school and joined the military when I was 19,” he said.

Poisson spent nearly the next three decades serving his country. That included a tour in Iraq in the early 2000s.

Instead of staying north following retirement, he decided to move to Sardis to be near his sister, Judi Curtis, who works in the school system and is River’s head volleyball coach.

“She was volleyball coach over at the elementary and needed someone to run the clock there,” Poisson said. “When she moved over to the high school, I sort of moved up with her.”

Later, Mark Romick, River’s athletic director and boys’ hoops coach, got Poisson at the scorer’s table for basketball games. First, he helped with the stat panels. After a few years, he moved up to clock duty.

This spring, plans are for Poisson to help with outfielders on Romick’s baseball team.

“This has all kind of been a second career for me,” Poisson said. “I guess you could say that.”

If you know of someone in sports in the Ohio Valley whom I could feature as an Ohio Valley Unsung Hero, drop me a line at rthorp@timesleaderonline.com or via Twitter @RickThorp1