By Joseph Garcia
This past football season there was a changing of the guards for the voice of Thursday night football at Panther Stadium.
Moving on from announcing Thursday night football in Liberty Hill was teacher Shawn Lockett, who often reminded fans to get their “eats and treats from the concession stands.”
This season Liberty Hill sophomore James Cole Weber, who goes by Cole, took over for Lockett and brings to the Thursday night football scene a stark contrast from the excitable, yet sometimes screechy voice of his predecessor.
Weber’s rich, golden baritone voice is soothing and professional, giving Liberty Hill fans and visitors alike a different intonation to appreciate.
“I’ve always been told that I have a good voice,” said Weber. “I’ve been hearing that since fifth or sixth grade and in middle school I did a couple of announcements in the morning and it just took off when I got to high school.”
The Austin native, who moved to Liberty Hill nearly nine years ago with his parents, Kenny and Brenda, and his brother, Ross, landed the announcing job after he became aware of Lockett’s departure. Initially he was considering being an athletic trainer after he was not able to play football due to a shoulder injury.
But as any successful person does, he seized the opportunity.
“I inquired about it whenever I found out Mr. Lockett was moving to be a teacher somewhere else,” Weber explained. “So I figured, oh, that means the announcing gig will be open. I went to talk to Coach (Jerry Vance) about it over the summer and I got the job.”
Weber said he had a blast sitting in the press box, laughing and hanging out with the guys. He also learned a few things in a trial by fire. He quickly learned that parents will let you know when you pronounce their child’s name incorrectly.
“I (learned) I have to watch my language a lot more than I usually have to,” he said. “And don’t pronounce (names) wrong and speak very loud and clear into the microphone.”
Weber did such an admirable job announcing football on Thursdays, that he garnered notice from Liberty Hill baseball Coach Mike Kristan, who approached the 16-year-old about announcing baseball games.
“I took it in a heartbeat,” Weber said.
Following Weber’s first game announcing baseball on March 5 when the Panthers defeated St. Andrews, Kristan commended the former baseball player on a job well done. Weber was injured his freshman year sliding into third base.
“We had a great crowd out here tonight and Cole (Weber) did a great job announcing,” said Kristan.
Announcing is something Weber wants to stick with through high school doing football and baseball. He said he might even talk to Coach Barry Boren about possibly announcing basketball games because he would enjoy that as well.
“If nothing else, (announcing) might be a good career,” he said. “I like to talk and it’s a lot of fun.”
Weber not only announces games, but he is also a predominant member of the band, playing trombone for the Panthers. Weber was also a fixture on the sidelines of the boys’ basketball games as he was a manager for the varsity team and sometimes JV.
“I really saw this as a good opportunity to stay involved with the athletic department,” Weber said of his involvement with announcing and the basketball program. “Being in band they make you choose between athletics and band your freshman year.”
Keeping the books whenever necessary and being in charge of hydrating players were among just a few of the duties Weber performed for both the varsity and JV basketball teams. And he will continue to stick with band as well, and has hopes of becoming a drum major.
But if that does not work out, look for him to take some sort of leadership role within the band’s organization.
“I’m not going to say I like to lead, but I have some decent ideas and I’ve always been told I am a pretty good leader,” he said. “So I want to help out with that. Next year, I plan on becoming more involved with the extra-curricular clubs too.”
Panther pride is something Weber takes to heart and he seemingly embodies the school spirit and its essence.
Short of being the mascot or a cheerleader, Weber’s aim is to contribute to Liberty Hill athletics in any form he can.
“I love the school, I love our athletics and I want to help out in any way possible,” Weber explained. “I’m really glad that I got to announce football, manage basketball and now I’m working with the baseball team. It’s something I really want to do and I’m just really glad I can help out the school in any way.”
When asked if he has any catchphrases he is working on, Weber still has the wheels turning to come up with something appropriate and pleasing. Still in his first year on the job, he wants to get it right.
“I’m getting there,” he joked. “I wasn’t going to come up with anything this year because I am an underclassman and I don’t have the pull to get away with that just yet. But I’ll probably come up with something (for next football season). I do have this saying I do in a kind of weird voice where I say ‘mercy’.”
Currently, Weber is trying to take it easy for spring break and enjoy his time off here in town. He is usually busy with school, band and announcing that he is taking advantage of the much-needed break.
He has thought about his academic future. But being just a sophomore, Weber has not put too much thought into what he wants to major in when he finally gets to college.
Right now his favorite subject in high school is history. But in college he will likely be leaning towards a major in business management or economics, as he wants to be an entrepreneur, he said.
He is also shooting for the stars when it comes to the school of his preference.
“If I absolutely have the grace of God on my side I’d love to go to Oxford over in England,” he said. “If that doesn’t work my second choice would be the University of Hawaii. My mom knows half the island because she lived out there for eight years. Then after that I would consider a Texas school.”
So while you still can, enjoy the celestial melody Weber delivers for the Liberty Hill athletic department and its fans.