Sitting side-by-side in the sound booth on the main level of The Q Centre, the Victoria Shamrocks’ entertainment team works seamlessly together.
As part of the Shamrocks’ introduction, DJ Tom Grainger cues the intro music as the team heads down the tunnel and out onto the floor for their second home game of the season. Announcer Cliff Lequesne energetically announces the team’s roster to a chorus of cheers from fans waiting to watch the Shamrocks take on the New Westminister Salmonbellies in Western Lacrosse Association action.
When play begins, the Salmonbellies strike first. That’s when scorekeeper Bill Sanderson, who is responsible for calling the goals, assists and penalties, springs into action. He jots down the goal scorer and the assist before Lequesne announces the names.
It’s the type of chemistry the trio has formed working together in close quarters for the past six years.
Sanderson has been at the score-keeping helm for several decades.
In the 1970s, he coached soccer at the high-school level when a fellow soccer coach, who was also a minor official with the Victoria Cougars, asked him to join the team. He started off working in the penalty box, before moving up to scorekeeper in the 1980s and eventually joining the Shamrocks.
“It keeps me going,” said Sanderson, 80.
“In retirement I enjoy getting out and I enjoy thinking. For my health, I love this so much … I don’t want to quit until I have to. Tom, Cliff and I have a really good relationship.”
Lequesne, who has been the Shamrocks announcer for several decades, and Sanderson prefer to keep things traditional, reading off a hard copy of a script and jotting down goals, assists and penalties with a pen and paper.
Grainger is the rookie of the entertainment team, and was recruited by the Shamrocks six seasons ago, just before the team’s run at the 2013 Mann Cup.
As the DJ, Grainger is responsible for playing music during stoppages in play – usually after goals and during penalties. Armed with an arsenal of songs, Grainger is constantly on alert to find the perfect song to play.
Grainger described the music as a mix between hockey (rock music) and basketball (more hip hop and top 40s) culture, and lacrosse is a mix of the two. In the end, fans still get excited by the favourites such as Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond and Don’t Stop Believing by Journey.
“I still feel like the rookie on the team because Cliff and Bill have so much experience and have so much passion for the sport … They’re both legends for sure,” said Grainger, a Langford resident and a teacher at Belmont Secondary school. “Just being able to watch the game and hang out with Cliff and Bill – it’s a fun way to spend some summer nights.”
But it’s not always smooth sailing. On this particular Sunday, there are a handful of changes that are made to the script written by game-day manager Michelle Evans – changes in prizes, contestants during games at intermission or adding a birthday announcement. That’s why communication is key.
“Sometimes we’ll go through stretches when goals are being scored and penalties are being called faster than we’re able to get them out, so co-ordinating between the goal song, and the announcements and Bill calling the goals, it takes a lot of communication,” Grainger said.
“The fans and the players expect a professional production, so we try to make sure all the small details are done in the same way as if we were in a 20,000 seat arena.”
The entertainment team gets to work every home game at The Q Centre.