I had a moment in-between quiche' baking and dusting off the leaf blower to have chat with a man we know and love here, and many of you have voiced the same to us - Mike Kemper who is the voice of the KC Mustang organization, and announcer....
Vince: "How long have you been "the voice" of the Mustangs, and who/what prompted you to do so?"
Mike K. "This is my 3rd season to announce for the Mustangs. I don't really speak for the team though. I am their PR person and I do answer a lot of questions and respond to comments about the Mustangs but we do encourage the players and the coaches to answer questions about the game and about themselves. But not get into verbal confrontations on-line. If they want to shut someone up then do as we say "put it on the field". I announced for the DC Warriors for their first 2 years. That was actually by accident. I came with the field. I announced and coached for Greenville Youth Football League. When Keith Malloy contacted the League about using our field for home games, he also asked for the scoreboard and the PA. Well I kind of came as part that package deal. Keith and the IFL liked what they heard so when the Warriors made it to the Dome for the first IFL Championship I was honored when I was asked to be the announcer for the game.
I moved to Northern Indiana in January of 2007. I contacted Sid and the Mustangs in the winter of 2007 and offered to announce for them. Sid and Andy Crisp both remembered me from the Warriors and jumped at the chance. The rest is as they say is history. I will add that just like others with the Mustangs, I do not get paid for anything I do."
Vince: "The Mustangs are recognized not only by myself, but by many, many others as one of the most respected and well ran organizations in the IFL. In your opinion, why do you think that is?"
Mike K. "We thank everyone who says that about the organization. It is something that we take huge pride in. We have worked hard to build the reputation and believe that we have earned it. If you surround yourself with people who buy into the theory that if you respect others and treat them with respect then it will be returned.
We start very early in the training of Mustang rookies that if you want to run your mouth and try to build your reputation by being "the man" then you might want to find another team to play for. But if you walk onto our field, either practice or game, then you had better have the teams best interest in mind. No one person wins football games. But all players, if they are the caliber of Mike Whitaker or someone who is a rookie and plays limited amount of plays, they had better have the teams best interest in mind. And that the player beside them is counting on them to do their job. If a player doesn't do his job, or wants to complain about what job they have been assigned then there is someone standing on the sidelines who will do it."
Vince: "The team itself started slow, but seems to be jelling now. Many times, the Mustangs have got close, but yet to light the cigar. What do you think the key is this year to getting over that hump?"
Mike K. "It is no secret that the Mustangs picked up a lot of talent this season. We actually had to step back a few weeks ago and say "hold on, we have all that talent and we can't win against some of the better teams". The loss against the Blaze was the wake up call. All these new and very talented players and we are not dominating. Then a comment was made and the light went on. We have all the talented PLAYERS and not a talented TEAM. We got away from what has made the Mustangs a dominate team for years, We got back to playing Mustang football. There is no hump to get over. We just have to play Mustang football."
Vince: "OK, I have to say it...I and the crew have been to every IFL teams' facility this season and season's past, and the most consistent, loudest and largest fan base is yours every season. I am sure allot of that contributes to you.
Why do you feel your fans are so active and what things do you do to keep it this way year in and year out?"
Mike K. "Wow... I am given way too much credit here. I am just the announcer and the guy playing the music. The fans do not come to Triton to hear Mike Kemper call a game. They come to watch players like Jeremy Greenlee and Brandon Boyer make catches. And Ryan Rhoades and DeRon Jenkins run the ball. Or Jordan Keck take on 2 offensive lineman so that Shaun Craft or Dustin Boyer can sack a quarterback. The fans are there to cheer plays like the one Neko Shumpert (21) make against the Hurricane. Once a big play happens I take advantage of it. The players tell me that they play to the level of the fans. So I try to keep the fans in the game. I just go with what I am given in each situation."
Vince: "What do you like to do outside football?"
Mike K. "There is a life other than football?? Seriously, I DJ for Goshen, Indiana's First Friday's monthly gathering. It is designed to promote the downtown business's in Goshen. In less than one year, these monthly "block party's" have saved the business's of Goshen. In July we had our yearly car cruise in. There were approximately 18,000 people in Goshen for this.
I announced for The Fort Wayne Firehawks. There is a lot of things that went wrong there this season, but if the owner of that team came to me today and asked me to announce again for 2011, I would not hesitate and say yes. I will work for free for someone who's heart is in the right place before his wallet. You have to trust a person first if you want to be their friend. And Mike Loomis is a friend.
I am active with First English Lutheran Church. I sing in the choir and am on church council.
I have 2 son's. Adam is 25 and lives in Greenville and runs a sportsbar and Shawn, 20, who was just married in South Carolina. He was my football player.
I have a girlfriend Andrea and her family who I really wish I spent more time with, but is very understanding for allowing me to do these things. She loves watching the Mustangs and was the one who came to me and said that this team is full of talent, but didn't play as a team."
Vince: "Who is your favorite team in the NFL?"
Mike K. "One of the first conversations I ever had with a Mustang player was Charles Gross. We were talking pro football and he asked me that. I told him I was a season ticket holder for the Bengals for a lot of years. I suffered through the Dick LeBeau years, The Bruce Cosslett years and even worse, the Dave Schula years. I remember when Dave Klingler was the number one draft choice and was supposed to lead my team to the promised land. And I watched K'jana Carter blow his knee apart in a pre-season game. Yes I am a Cincinnati Bengal fan and damn proud of it. Charles has always trusted me as a friend since then. He said that if I stayed with a team that sucked as bad as they did then I would stay with anyone.
Vince: "We know about Mike Whittaker, Shaun Craft, and Jim Sendo, so name a few special players that we may NOT know about that either are great players, good people or both?"
Mike K. "Tough question. I hate it but I said I would answer these.
Jordan Keck. D-linman. Plays the game, never get's mad, and usually has 2 offense lineman trying to move him. Frees up Craft and Todd Blanton a lot.
Justin Jenkins. O-Line. Had off season leg surgery and is starting. Comes to play and does not quit.
Tyler Elder. Running Back. He doesn't have a ton of speed, doesn't have a bunch of moves, but he will get positive yards on every play.
Neko Shumpert. He is one of, if not the smallest d-backs in the league. His tackles sometimes are questionable, and his speed is not one of the best in the IFL. But if it takes heart and positive attitude to win the championship, then I want Neko on my team.
The Boyer brothers. Brandon as a wide receiver and Dustin D-end. Brandon had 2 TD's and over 100 yards receiving against the Hurricanes. Dustin had the Pirates coaching staff so confused and upset that I could hear them yelling from across the field "please someone stop number 50". These 2 came to one of our practices and were just throwing a ball around hoping that we would talk to them and invite them to try out with us. We are glad Neil Harris went and talked to them that night.
One last one and I will just give you his name. You will hear his name a lot in the play offs. Defensive back, Brock Vale.#6
Vince: "We do know about Mr. Vale. I am sure other teams will soon. Did we see a female in uniform on the sidelines last game? Who was this and how did this come about?"
Mike K. "Katie Hnida. She is the first female to score points for a division 1 college football team.
She came to us with some of the players from the Firehawks. She had leg surgery at the end if their season.
I discussed with Katie at the beginning of the season about her being on the team. I told her and made a promise to her that we would not in any way shape or form advertise, or use the fact that she is Katie Hnida to sell one ticket, use her image or her name as a ploy to get guys to come to the games, or ask her to do anything but kick footballs and score points for the Mustangs on the field. She told me that this is exactly what she wanted and that she was here to help the Mustangs win the IFL Championship, just like Gabe Pedraza.
I want this to be known. This team would not be in existence to day if it was not for Sid Phillips. He may not influence the scoreboard but he positively influences every player, coach, fan, and me. He is the heart of the Mustangs. Without him we would not be the team most respect.
Ok Vince, There you have it in a nutshell. There is a lot more but just like you, it will remain a mystery for now."
Vince: "Thank you sir! Good luck in the playoffs!"
We here would like to thank Mr. Kemper for his time!
Its alsways good to do a story about something that is positive and a bit off the field, but not so far off that we get away frm the game - as if THATS possible.
I also would like to thank those who sent the emails we received about our allowing us to film-cover games at facilities and the requests to cover teams/players.
As I get my staff together better and travel times down, we will do better earlier in the year. And to be sure, we will cover the playoffs and championship with more interviews to come to any who are willing participate.
That's it until kickoff, Ive got kegs to fill and pretzels to buy.
See you all next week ( well, some this week!)
Ya gotta love this game!