“Titan Nation, it’s time to rise up!”
It’s the signature phrase of UW-Oshkosh public address (PA) announcer Michael Patton, who is the voice behind nearly all of the University’s 19 intercollegiate athletics teams.
“I try to get the home crowd to be a factor in the game,” said Patton, a University faculty member who teaches information systems in the College of Business and also serves as an official for UW-Oshkosh home swimming & diving meets.
Patton keeps a whirlwind schedule – working public address for football, volleyball and soccer in the fall; men’s basketball, wrestling and gymnastics in the winter; and softball and occasional track and field meets in the spring. He’s also stepped in for baseball and women’s basketball and did PA work at this past year’s NCAA Division III Baseball Championship in Appleton.
“He always has energy and it comes out right away in our introductions,” said UW-Oshkosh head softball coach Scott Beyer. “He makes you feel like you are a big deal on the field and our players love his energy. When he first began doing softball games, he asked a lot of questions on how we might want things done and I just told him to do his thing because he is the best in the business!”
UW-Oshkosh head women’s soccer coach Erin Coppernoll said Patton understands “big” games for the Titans and knows when they have big wins. He knows how to get fans on their feet and “raise the roof” in special moments during games.
“I view the job of a good PA announcer to help inform the people in the stands about what’s going on in the arena,” he said after a basketball game.
That might include explanation of a confusing call by the refs or announcing disclaimers or ads. Patton reads the starting lineups – igniting the traditional start to a game.
“I try to make it as big-time as possible,” Patton said, adding that he believes Division III athletes at UW-Oshkosh should be recognized for all the work they put into their sport. “They’ve earned it. “
Patton said Division III athletes are putting in the work of Division I athletes and the travel, without all the advantages Division I has. He encourages students on campus to be more involved with the University’s teams.
Patton said it was “a blast” to follow the tide of the men’s basketball team that finished as the Division III national runner-up last season. The same holds true for the national runner-up UW Oshkosh football team in 2016 and individual national gymnastics champion Baylee Tkaczuk last spring.
Patton cited those as just a few of the athletic triumphs the school has had in the past year.
“We should be ridiculously excited about what we have here,” Patton said. “Across the board, our student athletes are excellent. There is opportunity to see them perform at a very high level.”
Patton was a multiple-sport athlete at a small high school in northwest Iowa. He became involved as a UW-Oshkosh swimming official when his daughter was a young child, swimming with a club team in Oshkosh. He connected with then-UW-Oshkosh head swimming & diving coach Jon Wilson, who also had a daughter on the club team.
Patton’s work as a swimming official has extended from UW-Oshkosh, to Lawrence University, Ripon College and UW-Green Bay; and at the high school ranks.
“Michael is genuinely a true Titan fan,” Coppernoll said. “He has jumped on board and never questioned the crazy schedule of athletics and has brought a great voice to our games and events.”
Beyer said his team appreciates all the work Patton puts in to make each game feel special.
“Having only a few home dates each year, we have to make every game count and Michael adds a lot to our home field advantage,” Beyer added.
Patton, whose adjunct role turned into a full-time faculty position, began working at UW-Oshkosh in September of 2014. He holds Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Information Systems degrees from UW-Oshkosh.
Patton has a daughter, Caitlin, who is a junior at the University of Iowa, and a son, Teagan, a senior at Oshkosh North High School who has been a backup public address announcer for his dad when necessary. His wife is Debbie Gray Patton, Associate Director of Student Success with the University Studies Program at UW-Oshkosh.
Working the PA is like surfing – “you have to catch the energy of the game or amplify it,” he said.
Patton appreciates public address announcers who are easy to understand; who don’t make it “about them,” and who know when to interject to bring the crowd into play.
There have been a few rare occasions when he’s heard crickets as he tries to energize fans. And there was the time at the start of a soccer game when the recording of the National Anthem only played the first 15 seconds – three consecutive times.
“People were getting stressed out,” he recalled, explaining how he quickly jumped in to sing the National Anthem. “I would have welcomed anyone else singing. It was a real feeling of being exposed.”
There have been a couple of times opposing coaches got mad after he rallied the crowd (and UW-Oshkosh team) to victory.
Patton pulls for the teams any way he can – sometimes with superstitious rituals. He says he wears the same shirt for each sport every time.
The plan, though, works both ways.
“If we’re on a losing streak,” he said, “I’ll dump the shirt and try a new one.”
Written by Laurie Schlosser, UW-Oshkosh University Marketing & Communications