Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor
Every time Hunter Elliott walks into the Siegel Center for a men’s basketball game, he follows the same routine. For the past 34 years, the public address announcer has walked in at the same time, fist-bumped the same security guard and sat down in the same seat with each team’s roster.
Sold-out crowds are common at the Siegel Center, but two years into announcing games in Richmond, Elliott narrated his first sold-out game against Virginia Tech at the Richmond Coliseum.
“I looked up just a couple minutes before tipoff, and there wasn’t an empty seat in the place,” Elliott said. “I just remember my leg, just a little nervous bounce to your foot on the floor.”
That nervous twitch in Elliott’s leg hasn’t gone away — it comes back before each game.
“I genuinely get excited for every single game,” Elliott said. “I have always loved sports, and I’ve got arguably one of the best two or three seats in the entire arena.”
Elliott began working at VCU in 1986, serving as the public address announcer for volleyball, women’s basketball and men’s basketball at the Richmond Coliseum. A few years later, he said he transitioned into announcing only men’s basketball games because his day job required frequent travel.
The VMI graduate was on the microphone during the 1990 and 1996 NCAA tournament regional games hosted at the Richmond Coliseum.
When the Siegel Center opened in 1999, going to work became a family event for Elliott. He brought at least one of his children to games with him for the first 10 years of the building being open.
“I have three kids, and all three of them have been a ball boy or ball girl from the time they were 7 or 8 until they were 12,” Elliott said, adding that his youngest child is now a college freshman.
Elliott said he has prepared for each game the same way for as long as he can remember. He researches the visiting team’s roster a day before the game to look for challenging names.
“Names and faces go together real well,” Elliott said. “Over the years, you still remember them.”
During his career, Elliott has noticed more international players in college basketball since he began in the late 1980s.
“As the years have gone on and the game has become more international, being able to pronounce some of the international names [can be hard]” Elliott said. “There’s more consonants, and the sounds in their names are sounds you don’t typically say in the English language.”
Before each game, Elliott finds someone from the visiting team to make sure he’s pronouncing names correctly. To make sure his pronunciation is consistent throughout the game, he writes the down names phonetically.
Elliott’s favorite part of the job is the element of unpredictability inherent to a basketball game.
“It plays out right in front of you, and you have no idea what’s going to happen,” Elliott said. “It’s a new chapter in the book every time, which is really cool and will never get old.”
After more than three decades behind the microphone, Elliott said he doesn’t see an end anytime soon.
“I tell people all the time, as long as VCU’s crazy enough to give me a microphone,” Elliott said, “I’ll keep showing up.”