He plays for the Loyola men’s volleyball team while moonlighting as a Public Address (PA) Announcer. He’s senior Dane LeClair: The Most Interesting Man in Gentile Arena.
When regular PA announcer Pat Schultz departed after last season, LeClair has become one of his replacements for this women’s volleyball season. In five matches, LeClair’s high energy and creative commentary has stood out behind the mic.
“I’m super loud and energetic and I definitely like to bring this showy side to it,” LeClair said.
LeClair’s showmanship comes out in his unorthodox announcing style for Loyola’s starting lineup. He said most people just announce basic information like the player’s height, position and hometown, but he likes to do “more than that.”
LeClair has included made-up facts about the player that he said “don’t even make sense” in the introduction. He said he writes the incorrect facts down beforehand.
For example, LeClair said senior outside hitter Morgan Gresham can play Guitar Hero with her toes and senior outside hitter Gabi Maciagowski is “smoother than Michael Jackson, but hits harder than Mike Tyson.”
Gresham, 22, said LeClair is one of her best friends at Loyola. She said he lights up the room and has a “no-limits personality.” When he’s behind the microphone, she said the team can feel the boost.
“His energy is something we can really feed off of,” Gresham, a marketing major, said. “Especially in the games when it’s a little bit quiet in [Gentile], Dane always pumps up our energy.”
LeClair said he tries to emulate Will Ferrell with his made-up facts; Ferrell did a similar act when announcing the starting lineups for a Chicago Bulls game in 2012.
“‘Guy Fieri has Flavortown, but this woman has Flavormetropolis,’” LeClair said. “I thought that was pretty funny.”
Along with Ferrell, LeClair said he’s received some inspiration from the writing style of the “Most Interesting Man in the World” advertising campaign from the beer brand Dos Equis. He said he shows up an hour before each game to write the introductions and hold a writer’s meeting over the phone with his dad.
LeClair said he didn’t have prior public speaking or announcing experience. An information systems major with a minor in philosophy, he said his talent is possibly due to the influence of his parents. His mom is the local NBC news anchor in Rochester, New York, and his dad works as a litigator.
LeClair said his knowledge of volleyball and lingo has helped him with the job, and the rest is his personality.
“I just try to have fun with it myself and then I hope for the best with everybody else,” LeClair said.
LeClair said he knows he’s done a good job with his introductions when the opposing team’s coach comes over to shake his hand before the match starts, which happened in the match against Evansville.
“He came up to me and shook my hand and was like ‘Dude, that was amazing,’” LeClair said.
During the actual match, LeClair said his commentary is heavily biased toward the Ramblers and contains a mix of pop culture references and inside jokes between him and his volleyball teammates — who text him ideas during the matches.
LeClair said his main goal is to use his energy to make the game more entertaining.
“I just want to get the students involved and to actually enjoy watching volleyball because it can get kind of slow at times,” LeClair said.
In his future, he said he wants to get into collegiate volleyball coaching, but he said he wouldn’t be unhappy becoming a PA announcer.
“As a future, I haven’t put much thought into it,” LeClair said. “But I have a blast doing it … it would be so cool just to goof around and write silly intros for a living.”
As of now, it’s uncertain whether LeClair will call any games in Gentile Arena past the women’s volleyball season, but he said he would like to try calling some basketball games.
LeClair is set to be back in Gentile Arena as a player when the men’s volleyball team begins its season against University of California, Irvine Jan. 4.