By Travis Smola
At most Vicksburg basketball games, spectators probably don’t take much notice of the three men sitting at the table at courtside. Each only earns $10 a game, but Doug Stafinski, Dave Maneikis and Ken DeVries are there out of love of sports and their community.
They also have an important job to do as the announcer, timekeeper and scorekeeper of many Vicksburg sporting events.
Stafinski, a lifelong resident and 1964 graduate of Vicksburg High School, has been involved in announcing for about 20 years. His distinctive voice can be heard echoing across the court during basketball in the winter and the soccer fields in fall and spring.
His love of sports goes way back to his days of playing basketball, football and baseball for the Bulldogs. He will soon be in the school’s Hall of Fame. When Stafinski said “I like to stay involved in the community,” he means it. He has been a Lions Club member for many years and chairman of the Summer Festival for the last decade or more.
Announcing may not seem like a challenging job on first glance. But he has to say correctly hundreds of different names each season. To avoid butchering the pronunciation, Stafinski goes to the coaches before each game to find out exactly how to say each name correctly.
Maneikis sits to Stafinski’s right at the table. As a former Bulldog basketball and football player who graduated in 1970, he started getting involved with the football and basketball teams as a volunteer four years later and has been a fixture at games ever since.
Maneikis says doing the actual time keeping is easy thanks to technology. But there are always critics in the stands who are vocal about it to the officials. His most important advice for timekeeper? “Don’t get flustered by the people behind you,” he said with a chuckle.
He’s also worked football games in the past but his knees don’t allow for the long, hard climb to the press box anymore.
Perhaps the most challenging job at the table goes to Ken DeVries, the scorekeeper for basketball. DeVries’ love of sports came while playing basketball and football for Schoolcraft High School.
DeVries is tasked with recording all the little details of the game, every point and every substitution. Of course, being human, he misses things on occasion. That’s when he leans on Maneikis’ sharp eye as a backup.
Even though he went to a different school, he lived on the border between Vicksburg and Schoolcraft and now calls the former home. “I spent more time in Vicksburg than in Schoolcraft,” he said.
After his three boys graduated from Vicksburg, he met athletic director Mike Roy, who enlisted his help as timekeeper for a basketball game. DeVries said he didn’t enjoy the logistics of running the clock for basketball. But he quickly took a liking to scorekeeping.
He has also done timekeeping for football and soccer.
A retired science teacher, he once found a way to combine his duties with his love of science. Knowing a transit of Venus across the sun’s disk was happening at the same time he was timekeeping a regional soccer game, he brought along his telescope.
Setting it up to project the event onto a small screen, DeVries got on the loudspeaker and invited the crowd over to witness the rare event at halftime. Students gathered to get photos to show their science teachers the next day and even the parents were intrigued. There ended up being a line waiting patiently to see the event.
Right as the last man in line was set to have a look, the sky clouded over, obscuring the view. DeVries told the man not to worry. He’d have another chance to see it in 120 years.
“It broke his heart,” DeVries said with a laugh.