It is not unusual to hear someone doing play-by-play at a sporting event. But Dade County High School basketball fans have a very special announcer among them, seated right in the stands. Gary Bone is broadcasting to an audience of one, making it possible for his wife Angie to “see” the game.
At each Runnin’ Wolverines game, at home or on the road, Gary and Angie are among the most enthusiastic supporters of their son Noah and his teammates, most of whom have grown up together on the ball fields and in the gyms. Throughout their 28-year marriage, they have done everything together. Noah is a junior, and his parents have followed his progress in all sports, including football, basketball, and baseball, “every game since Little League,” Angie says proudly.
In 2014, Angie lost her sight, from complications of diabetes. Gary was determined to include Angie in every aspect of their family’s activities. From church, to shopping, to sports, a lack of sight was not going to keep Angie on the sidelines. She had watched Noah and his friends since they were toddlers, and their journey was not yet finished.
That’s why fans of Dade County and the school’s opponents are treated to an enthusiastic play-by-play performance from Gary at every game. “Noah brings it down court….passes to Gage…he brings it inside…over to Morgan…back to Noah…he shoots…YES! Dade takes the lead 16-14!”
Gary describes each play with great enthusiasm and detail, and Angie hangs on to every word. This has been going on for three years, and other fans in the bleachers have taken notice.
Carissa Webb, also a Dade basketball parent, said, “I listened to him give her a play-by-play, and it’s like listening to ESPN. She asks questions, she yells, she is really tuned in. He is her eyes, and he doesn’t want her to miss out on her team. He’s her very own personal sports announcer.”
Angie said, “I saw every game before I lost my sight, and I feel like I’ve seen every game since. Gary helps me watch the game. He describes everything that is going on, and I just visualize it. In my own way I can really see what the boys are doing.”
Watching Gary multi-task during a game is like watching an expert in action. Like every big-time sportscaster, he keeps a scorebook, marking every shot, every pass, every foul, and every rebound. At the same time, he’s calling the game for Angie, and like any good basketball dad, he will occasionally let out a big whoop when one of the Wolverines makes a great shot. Then, it’s back to his play-by-play duties. When asked why he does all of this, Gary said, “With Angie being blind, all this atmosphere would just be noise to her. She wouldn’t have any idea who has the ball, or what is going on. This allows her to experience the game just like any other fan.” It cannot be as relaxing as just watching the game, like other dads do, but Gary wouldn’t have it any other way.
It’s one of many ways the couple has adjusted to Angie’s blindness. Gary has adapted their home to accommodate Angie’s condition. “I’ve found ways to make sure she can still do what she has always done,” Gary said. “I’ve put little felt stickers on the microwave oven and other appliances, so she can touch them and know the correct settings. Nothing on the stove top, but everything else is accessible to her.”
They’ve always done everything together, and they still do. Friends see them shopping, dining out, and enjoying nature. When basketball season ends, they’ll gear up for a busy spring of baseball, while also planning their daughter’s wedding.
When not doing play-by-play duties, Gary is the pastor at Straightway Baptist Church in Bryant, Alabama, so Angie says he’s used to talking in public. Since his game-calling has attracted attention, she realizes she is no longer just another vocal basketball mom.
“I have to behave myself.” She said. “A couple of times I’ve yelled, Hey Ref, I’m blind and I could make a better call than that!” I’m not sure how the referees react to that, but nearby fans think it’s hilarious.
On a recent winning night, Dade County’s two most energetic fans didn’t steal the spotlight from the school’s talented team, but they drew considerable admiration from other fans. With a gift of gab, and a love for his family, Gary makes sure his wife has the best seat in the house.
Carissa Webb summed it up nicely. “You know honestly, the first time I noticed what was going on, I just sat back behind them and teared up. It is the most beautiful picture of love I’ve ever seen.” Watch the news story below: