SYRACUSE — For nearly a quarter of a century, those Wawasee swimmers who were fortunate enough to make the IHSAA’s State Finals could expect to hear a familiar voice echoing through the IUPUI Natatorium.
After 24 years, Syracuse’s Pam Schumm has finally decided to put down the mic at Indiana high school swimming’s biggest events, where she has served as co-announcer since 1995. It’s not an easy decision, but with family and other interests pulling her away, it’s simply time.
“It’s kind of bittersweet to say that I’m not going back anymore,” said Schumm.
“It’s that time in my life that I’m busy with a lot of other things, and it takes me away from home and the grandkids for two weekends out of the year. I’ve done that ride. It’s time to find something else to keep me occupied.”
Schumm, who worked as a biology and genetics teacher at Wawasee High School for 41 years, fell into announcing casually enough.
The coach of Wawasee’s boys swim team from 1974-76, Schumm switched over to helm the volleyball program in ’76. When the Lady Warriors’ head gymnastics coach asked her for help with scorekeeping and announcing in the winter of that year, Schumm agreed to lend a hand and a voice. She continued to announce for the gymnastics team for 40 years until 2016 and picked up some other duties along the way — she began announcing at swim meets at WHS in 1991 and started announcing track and field events in 2005. She’s also served as the volleyball timer at the high school the past five years, all duties she plans to continue even after hanging up her hat as a state swimming announcer.
“It started with gymnastics back in 1976,” recalled Schumm. “Gymnastics was a winter sport at that time and still is, and it always competed with swimming so when I wasn’t coaching swimming anymore I could watch some gymnastics meets. The gymnastics coach needed a scorer and an announcer. You did both at that particular point in time. Everything was by hand, there weren’t any computers, and she said ‘Can you help me with these meets?’ And I said ‘Sure.’
“From there it’s just snowballed.”
Schumm’s journey to become the voice of the IHSAA swim finals started with a twist of fate.
A colleague from Angola who was already announcing at the meet, Jim Simons, was planning to teach overseas for a year in an exchange program in 1995 and didn’t want to permanently vacate his announcing spot, so he recruited Schumm to fill in for him while he was gone. She made the drive down to the meet the year before he planned to leave in the winter of ’94, the very same year Wawasee’s boys collected runner-up honors behind perennial powerhouse Carmel — the Warriors’ best-ever finish. Simons’ intended trip overseas didn’t pan out after all but Schumm was hooked, and she and Simons served as co-announcers at both the boys and girls swim finals ever since.
“It is the most exciting meet that you can imagine,” said Schumm of the state swim meet. “Let me tell you, those times are fast. They set state records; they set national records. It is phenomenal, and there’s so much enthusiasm. It’s just exciting to be there, and almost every year Wawasee sends kids so I was not only representing Wawasee but I was just having a great time doing it, too.”
Schumm has made friendships and some great memories during her announcing tenure. She’s seen young athletes mature into young adults and even the children of former athletes go on to find success in their sports. Through it all, she’s been a voice of encouragement and support, and while she may be stepping away from the state swim finals, it’s a voice Wawasee student-athletes will still be able to hear at home meets.
“Just watching the kids — watching them succeed, watching them try really, really hard, sometimes falling a little bit short but always being able to encourage them. Hard to do that in track when I’m clear up in the press box, but they can hear my voice and know I’m there. Just the support that I can give to athletics, that’s I guess what keeps me coming back,” she said.