July 12, 2011
Laramie, Wyo. - Kevin's Commentary is a new feature on the redesigned WyomingAthletics.com that gives fans an inside perspective of everything about the Cowboys and Cowgirls from Kevin McKinney. A native of the Equality State, McKinney began his journey with UW in the Sports Information Office in 1967 and has since moved on to the position of Senior Associate Athletics Director. Half of the Cowboy radio call, this fall McKinney will be entering his 35th year for men's basketball and 13th for football on the air.
My first assignment as a young college intern in the Sports Information Office at the University of Wyoming was written in early September of 1967, on a Remington upright. That's a typewriter for those who know only of computers, texting and tweeting. The release outlined the opening of the Cowboy men's soccer season. It was a sport I didn't really know much about, but I was excited to do it, and proud to have it included in the office's weekly mailer.
UW's Sports Information Director Bill Young had an opening for a student assistant position in his office in the summer of `67. Hall of Fame broadcaster Larry Birleffi--whom I had known for many years in Cheyenne because he and my Dad worked together--let me know about the position and said I should talk to Bill which I did. It sounded like a heck of a deal. It paid $15 a month, it would give me the opportunity to write--I wanted to major in journalism-- and it would keep me involved with UW athletics. I could not have imagined at that time it would set me on my career path.
That provided me with a map, gave me the direction I needed. I'm not sure I would have made it through college--at least it would have been more difficult--had it not been for Sports Information. Bill, our secretary Margaret Bott, and the other student assistants, Scott Binning and Rick Morris, were my family away from home. I know for sure that internship made me certain of what I wanted to do. Internships can be invaluable that way.
When one has been around for a length of time--it's been 44 years for me now--you see your share of advancements. Yes we used typewriters when I started, mimeographed (archaic form of printing) our releases, folded them and stuffed them in envelopes every Monday. After many Cowboy games, especially baseball and basketball, Bill, Scott, Rick and I dictated stories and box scores by phone to media outlets. Tremendously time-consuming. I can't tell you how thrilled we were when the first fax machine came along, called the "telecopier"! It was crude by today's standards, but it saved us a great deal of time.
It's all changed since I started of course, the facilities, the conference alignments, women's athletics--we didn't have the Cowgirls in our sports offerings back then--the evolution of sports and television, and the emergence of athletics as big business. I could go on. Not all of it has been good, but the vast majority has.
One thing that hasn't changed is the people part of the business. The coaches, student-atheltes, media and staff with whom I have worked through all these years is my most cherished treasure. So many became friends. Sure I've dealt with some tough ones, but in the main it's the great people who have kept me in athletics, especially the student-athletes. I saw a quote once that said, "we don't stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing. The kids and their energy keep one young, at least thinking young.
Since I've dealt with statistics for most of my professional life, I just naturally had to go back and put some together for this. I wouldn't feel right if I didn't. Since my time here, I have worked with 13 football coaches, 10 basketball coaches, all of the school's athletic directors--eight AD's, and four interim athletics directors. I've been here during the tenures of 10 of the school's 23 presidents. So many of those indivduals are deep in the fabric of Wyoming's athletic tradition. I'm proud to have known and worked with them.
I'm on a streak of 431 straight Cowboy football games since I've been here, and I've seen 1,174 Poke basketball games.
I have been lucky beyond the world of SID's and administrators because my path took me into broadcasting. It has been so much fun to be involved with that aspect of my professional career. I have had the chance to sit next to three of the state's broadcasting icons, Birleffi, Gene Benson and of course Dave Walsh. Especially Dave. We have been together through so many great times (a few tough ones too). I have sat by his side now for going on 28 years. I so admire his professionalism. Few have his gift of painting the mental picture.
In addition I've had the opportunity to work with other Cowboy broadcasters, Leo Morris, George Kay, Ray Lansing, Jack Nokes, Tim Ray, Rich Bircumshaw, Merle Harmon and Jack Slothower. It's a list of Wyoming broadcasting's who's who. But I couldn't have enjoyed that portion of this business without the help of so many great people in our SID office through the years. People like Tim Harkins, Diane Dodson, Doug Skipper, Bill Lamberty, Amy Dambro, Steve Weakland, John Paradis, and so many more great individuals did more so I could be involved with broadcasting.
Through it all, it is this state and its people who have kept me here. Wyoming is my state. I was born here. That is not a requirement by the way to feel how special a place it is. I'm loyal to it to a fault. To this day I bristle when someone from outside takes shots at it which happens all the time. We can gripe about the wind, that's okay. But it's not okay for somebody else in the league to do it.
I love the people, and I love their passion. When I would get together with Paul Roach after another one of his many football wins as a head coach, he would always look at me and say, "the Wyoming people are happy today". He understood their loyalty and their pride, and so have any of us deeply involved in our athletics program. There's nothing more special in college athletics than that bucking horse and rider on the helmet or uniform. There's no better color combination than brown and yellow. At least that's what Wyoming fans think. If you can't get passionate about those colors what good are you? That passion is what has made me stay, and has made me so proud to be a part of this place.
I hope you enjoy our website's new look, and additional content. I'll write something in this space every now and then about all kinds of athletic-related subjects and what makes Cowboy and Cowgirl athletics so much fun.
Here's to a great year!