OHIO VALLEY UNSUNG HEROES: McMahon voice of Nelson Field
BELLAIRE — When Scot McMahon was eyeing a formula on how to announce Bellaire High football games he need look no further than his own mom.
“I always try to tell people, I try to make it so that my mother could understand what’s going on,” he explained. “Before I watched games from the press box, I’d sit with my mom, and if there was a question, I’d explain what happened.
“So, I figure there are a lot of mothers in the stands there for their kids. So, if there’s a flag, I want to make sure I explain it and make sure (the fans) understand what (the officials) are doing.”
It’s that attention to detail that has endeared McMahon to Bellaire fans since he took over for Bob Kovalyk less then a decade ago. A Bellaire graduate and longtime purveyor of the football program, McMahon never had Nelson Field public address announcer on his list of goals. In fact, his pursuits were more in the legal realm.
McMahon graduated from law school in 2006. While studying for the bar, he was approached by current Bellaire athletic director Mike Sherwood about subbing in the district.
“I started doing it and kind of fell in love with it,” McMahon said. “So, I ended up subbing for a year or so and then they asked me to be the in-school suspension monitor at the middle school. I did that for five years.”
Eventually, McMahon earned his teaching certificate through Wheeling Jesuit University and, in 2016, earned a teaching position at Bellaire High.
“Once I was in the school, I kind of got the bug and fell in love with it,” he said.
McMahon continued to dabble in legal work, as well as helping with athletics. When Jose Davis took over the Bellaire program, McMahon was asked if he’d be interested in running the clock.
“I jumped on the chance,” McMahon recalled. “I thought it’d be awesome. I really didn’t see it as work. It’s more fun and it’s easy to do something when it’s fun.”
McMahon had no clue that his first year would be Kovalyk’s last behind the mic, yet he watched the veteran work. So, when he stepped away following the season and he was asked to replace him, McMahon couldn’t say no.
“I was just happy to help the kids out when they needed somebody to do it,” he said. “Like I always tell people, there were all these people that did it when I was in school. The kids need to have somebody do it, so I thought I’d go ahead and do it.
“I knew the kids because I was working at the school and I knew enough about Bellaire football.”
It’s true. McMahon was a freshman in 1995 when the Big Reds reached the state title game. Another state title game appearance followed in 1996, with a state semifinal berth in 1998. McMahon has seen the heyday of Bellaire football and tries to recreate the excitement of those years now.
“We won a lot and when we went to the games it was packed and it was loud and there were people screaming and cheering and chanting,” he recalled.
When he took over the public address duties, McMahon said there wasn’t the same feeling at Nelson Field. So, he tried to incorporate some things he hoped would spark excitement. One thing was a first down call. When Bellaire gets a first down, he’ll exclaim “That’s good enough for a Big Reds … first dooowwwwwnnn!!!!.”
“I thought, I have to try to get some energy because the kids will feed off that,” he said. “Sometimes, we didn’t score a lot of touchdowns, but we could get first downs. So, it just came out.”
McMahon said he’s always searching for new ways to light up the crowd and create excitement. At the end of the day, everything he does is for the players and the fans.
“That’s what makes it easy,” he said. “I’m gonna be there anyway and I just love Bellaire football.
“I love the city of Bellaire, or whatever you want to call it now. I don’t know if it would work for me in another place, but I know it’s worked for me in Bellaire because of the love I have for the place.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @RickThorp1