Amy Cowgill finishes up 16th year as 'Voice of the Falcons'
By Chapin Jewell
SHORT GAP - If you’ve attended a football game at Falcon Stadium in Short Gap over the last 16 years, chances are, the first time at least, you noticed a bit of a different sound coming from the announcer’s booth. Everything you expect is there, enthusiastic greetings, energy, specific details like who ran the ball, who made the tackle, and what yard line the ball is on.
The difference, however, is that the message is delivered in a female voice, a rarity in the high school sports world, especially high school football circles.
In that 16 years, well, actually from game one, Amy Cowgill has taken the announcer’s job and knocked it out of the park.
Perhaps the biggest reason she’s been so successful is that she’s coupled a natural ability with a school spirit and passion for everything Frankfort she wears so outwardly. It all started in early childhood.
“Before Frankfort High School was actually built, my grandparents had a house directly behind where the football stadium is now. They lived there before it was Frankfort Hill. My grandfather, Frank Mace, was a huge Frankfort fan from the day the doors opened in that building. My uncles even remember riding dirt bikes through the hallways before there were doors on the school,” Cowgill explained.
“The stadium had always been in their back yard. The cross country team would eat from fruit trees in their yard. They started taking me to football games when I was little, and the rule was that I was not allowed to walk around with my friends, I had to sit and watch the entire game. That was not too exciting to me as a little kid, but I grew to love it,” Cowgill stated.
According to Cowgill, “My family has always loved Frankfort and loved Frankfort sports, and I grew to love it with them.”
In school, while very involved in all things academic, Cowgill never actually played any sports. She was, however, involved with the goings-on of the Frankfort sports world. For example, she kept stats for both the volleyball and wrestling teams.
As Cowgill explains, “I never played any sports because I myself am not athletic at all, but I supported all the sports. I went to all the football games, and I just grew up loving Frankfort football. It became even cooler when it was my own friends who were playing on that field.”
After graduation from Frankfort, Cowgill went on to college, pursued a career in education, then began teaching. After spending her first year as a teacher in Elk Garden, Cowgill soon acquired her dream position at her alma mater.
“After my first year at Elk Garden, Preston Miller retired at Frankfort High School, and I got to walk right into a classroom where I had been a student and became the teacher. That was the 2003-2004 school year. I teach every level of math, mostly sophomores, juniors and seniors, but, I will teach almost any math class we have,” Cowgill explained.
Cowgill grew up with a love for Frankfort High School; that love grew as she herself attended the school and has grown even larger as she is involved in her 18th year of teaching in Short Gap.
Cowgill recalls what it was like to re-enter the halls for the first time as a teacher, “Frankfort High School is a family, and it was like going home again. That may sound totally cliché, but it is 100 percent true. Sandy Bradley was just like the mother that welcomed you home, and a lot of the teachers that were there were teachers I had, of course that’s changed now. It was kind of weird at first, because you wanted to call them all Mr. and Mrs., like you were a student, but eventually, they transitioned from being my teachers to being my friends.”
Cowgill is a teacher that goes the extra mile for her students, school and community. It shows in the awards she’s won. It shows in all the extra organizations, clubs, and projects she’s involved in or supports.
“In 2017, I was West Virginia Council of Teachers of Mathematics Math Teacher of the Year for the state. I’m also the 2020 Mineral County Teacher of the Year. I’m in a project right now called M3T, Mountaineer Masters Mathematics Teachers. I am Nationally Board Certified, I have my masters degree, and I am the department chair of the Math Department at Frankfort. I am a part of the school’s leadership team. I am the advisor for Mu Alpha Theta, the Math Honor Society,” Cowgill detailed.
According to Cowgill, “Right now, my favorite community service activity we do is that between Frankfort High School and Frankfort Middle School, I get a Christmas wish list from every resident at the Dawnview Center. We take that list and the teachers and the staff get a name and we buy Christmas gifts for every resident at Dawnview and deliver them, and then they are distributed on Christmas morning.”
With an impressive teaching resume that includes not just professional achievements but a tremendous track record of service to school and community, Cowgill details the story of how she added the role of football announcer to the mix some 16 years ago.
“Ed Dickel had been in that box for as long as I remembered. When it came time for Ed to give it up, then Frankfort football coach Mick Lantz was on the hunt for a replacement, and he came to me one day and said, ‘I think you would be very good at that.’ I had the deer in the headlights look, and thought, there is no way I could do that. I don’t know enough about football. I enjoy watching it, and I get what’s going on, but play by play, knowing what to say, I can’t do that,” Cowgill detailed.
“It was my dad who said, ‘you are going to regret it if you don’t take the position.’ It’s all so easy to remember because that was in 2005, the year I met Kenn and the year I got engaged, a year before we got married. He told me, ‘I will help you, I will help you do this.’ So, I then agreed to do it, saying I would try. I was shaking really bad the beginning of that first season, because I really didn’t know if I could do it.”
Amy’s husband, Kenn Cowgill, is an accomplished teacher in his own right, teaching history and social studies at Frankfort. Kenn joined then fiancé and eventual wife Amy in the announcer’s booth as her spotter. Like in life, he’s been by her side in the booth for 16 years.
“I had no idea what I was doing; it was something I just sort of walked into. Kenn and I had to figure out a system. The first thing we tried was putting posters on the wall with both rosters, and he would point to the people that were making the plays. That just did not work for us. We quickly figured out a better way and things started to run like clockwork,” Cowgill explained.
According to Cowgill, “I don’t think I did too bad, I would probably be my own worst critic on that. I second guess a lot of things I do, but quickly realized that is a position where you cannot second guess anything. You have to have complete trust in your spotter and say what they tell you to and keep on going. If you second guess, it’s too late. Kenn is my spotter, Kenn is my eyes.”
The Cowgills serve as announcer and spotter, but there are others typically in the booth, each with a specific job. “We have Steve Grogg, who runs the clock, and Doogie Smith, who does the stats. My dad (Bill Umstot) spots for Steve, and Steve’s wife (Margie) is sometimes there to help out as well.”
In 16 seasons, Cowgill has certainly enjoyed and narrated many, many memorable games, performances, and specific plays. Asked about her favorites, Cowgill responded, “This season, the Spring Mills game was very exciting. Also, any games that go into overtime. I’m known to be a pretty high-strung person, so they always add to the drama.”
According to Cowgill, “Of course, one game and play is the most memorable. At Frankfort, it’s our ‘Immaculate Reception.’ The 2014 Mineral Bowl when Brady Watson took the ball that bounced into the air and ran it for a touchdown against Keyser. We then won that game in overtime 28-27 and would then go on to the state championship game. That was special for sure.”
For Cowgill, being the football announcer is a good gig. It’s fun, you have the best seat in the house, she’s seated with many of the special people in her life, and it’s just another way she can give back to her school. There’s more, however; there is the emotional attachment that comes when being deeply involved with the students in yet another way.
“Being a part of the kids’ lives is the important thing. The best part about being a teacher and being the announcer is that those kids are my kids. The kids on the field are the kids that sit in front of me in the classroom, and I know them, I know what their plans are, and I know their personalities, and my heart is out there with them,” Cowgill stated. “The cheerleaders, the band, the football players, you just feel proud to be a part of their growing up and who they are becoming, and that’s why I do what I do.”