CHURCH HILL — When Roy Farne cues up the microphone tonight for Volunteer High School’s home opener versus Sullivan South, it will mark the 176th consecutive Falcons home football game where he’s had “the best seat in the house.”
Farne begins his 36th straight year as “the voice of the Falcons,” the public address announcer who VHS athletic director Jim Whalen said “sets a climate for great sportsmanship at Volunteer High School.”
“Every high school needs a great PA announcer to set the climate for their sporting events,” Whalen said. “I can always count on Roy to be professional, nonbiased and to use the correct pronunciation of players, coaches and officials. We are blessed at Volunteer to have the Farne family volunteer their time to help our kids.”
But even after more than 35 years behind the microphone, Farne told the Times News Wednesday he thinks his best is still to come.
“You always want to get better,” he said. “I believe in the thing Johnny Majors said when he was the coach at Tennessee, and I always fall back on that whenever we participate in sports. You never really stay the same. You always want to keep improving. Keep getting better.”
Farne graduated from Church Hill High School in 1978, but he wasn’t a football player. He’s a tennis player and continues to compete to this day.
But he’s also a Volunteer at heart, and in 1980 when the high schools in Church Hill and Surgoinsville consolidated to create Volunteer High School, he became the varsity basketball scorebook keeper.
As a communications major in college, however, Farne had an interest in announcing and told basketball coach Todd Clemmons he’d be available if there was ever a need for his services.
Eventually Farne got the nod, traded his scorebook for a microphone and became the Falcons’ full-time basketball announcer in 1982.
“I started doing that and everybody liked it, and it sort of took off,” Farne said. “After a few games, maybe about a month of it, he (Coach Clemmons) came over and said Pat Lyons — he was the first principal here — he said Mr. Lyons wants to talk to you and I think he wants you to do football in the fall. I was kind of tipped off, and I almost answered the question before he (Lyons) had a chance to ask me. It was a big ‘Yes, I’d be glad to do it.”
That was the fall of 1983, and Farne has yet to relinquished his seat behind the microphone on the 50 yard line.
Farne’s wife, Mary, has a pretty good streak going herself. She has served as his spotter since the beginning of the 1991 season, which puts her around 135 consecutive games.
His son Ben, another tennis player, also helps out, keeping Dad organized and making sure all announcement requests are done at the right time.
Aside from football, Farne announced VHS graduation for 14 years in a row, although he had to miss the past three years due to a scheduling conflict.
He also continues to call both boys and girls basketball games and will be entering his 37 consecutive season this fall. He doesn’t have a consecutive home basketball streak, however, due to conflicting tennis tournaments and going to watch his son play.
But nothing could keep him out of his place on the 50 yard line for Friday night home football games.
To Farne, being “the voice of the Falcons” is an honor and a privilege.
“This is the best seat in the house,” he said. “There’s nothing better in Northeast Tennessee than the Friday night lights. Everybody comes out and we still have good attendance, even in tough seasons.”
And like he said, he’s still getting better, so there’s no reason to stop now.
“I don't see any end in sight,” Farne said. “I want to keep going as long as they want to keep having me, and as long as I can do it effectively. It’s kind of like John Ward when he was at Tennessee. John always said if he seen any kind of decline, that’s when he would stop.