GREENSBORO — You knew the deep, slightly gravely voice immediately when you heard it. And if you were an opponent going against Dudley High School, you knew what it meant when he repeated the phrase:
“It’s Panther time! It’s Panther time! It’s Panther time!”
Those words meant the Panthers were on the prowl and you were in trouble. They were the trademark call of longtime Dudley public-address announcer John R. "Skip" McCall, who died Saturday evening at age 71.
McCall, who had worked as an educational consultant, was the voice of Panthers athletics from 1996 until he stepped aside last year for health reasons. His family will receive friends at 2 p.m. Friday at Hargett Funeral Home at 905 E. Market Street.
Here are some memories of McCall that members of the Dudley community shared Monday:
RODNEY WILDS, Dudley principal
“He was a true supporter of Dudley athletics. He was very passionate about making the game entertaining. He added a sense of individuality for each player. He was able to coin phrases, nicknames that if this was your first game at Dudley, you felt like listening to him you knew the players on a personal level. … He was an all-around good guy who always had a smile on his face. He lifted your spirits when you were in his presence.”
STEVEN DAVIS, Dudley football coach
“I just remember him being very, very genuine. He was an announcer who came up with calls on kids and gave them nicknames that made it exciting. … We had Eric Hicks in basketball, and he called him ‘The Copter,’ and it was ‘Beast Mode’ when Connell Young would break a run. … The kids started calling each other those names that he called them during his time here. Connell would be walking down the hall and people would say, ‘Beast Mode!’ … When their time came, a lot of them wanted a name from him.”
KEN FERGUSON, Dudley boys basketball coach and a former player
“His voice alone gave Dudley athletics an identity. He always gave the kids their nicknames, and those nicknames stuck with the kids even after high school. … I got a chance to see him last week, went over to the hospital and sat with him for a bit. It’s definitely a tough pill to swallow. … Skip set a precedent. He brought a certain level of expertise and passion to it. He was just a genuinely good guy. He was genuine in everything he did.”
FRANK McNEIL, Dudley girls basketball coach
“He had a love for Dudley athletics, but he did pay special attention to the women’s program. Before every game he would say something encouraging to me and he would give the ladies gum for the game and wish them good luck. He was a staple and a pillar for the Dudley community. His voice was one for the ages.”
DERRICK PARTEE, Smith boys basketball coach and former Dudley player
“He started when I was in high school, and the biggest thing that stands out to me is that he was not only the announcer, he was the biggest Dudley fan that you could find who didn’t go to Dudley. It came across in his announcing. ... One year some JV guys said, ‘Tell the announcer I want to be called this. I want to be called that.’ I told him and we played like crap that game. He came in there afterward balling up the piece of paper and saying, ‘Your nickname is earned! You don’t get to tell me what to call you!’ He took pride in that thing. Us Dudley people take a lot of pride in Dudley, and he did, too.”