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Back in the booth

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JOHN N. BARRY
December 15, 2007
— Tom Pattison is back where he belongs.

The longtime voice of UW-Whitewater men's athletics returned to the airwaves this season as the color commentator for the Warhawk football team.


Despite suffering a stroke in October 2006, and being forced to endure months of rigorous rehabilitation, Pattison is set to call today's Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl.


"I really didn't know if I could come back or not," said Pattison, who will join play-by-play man Gary Douglas for today's broadcast on Kool 106.5 (WKCH-FM).


"The day after I had my stroke, I thought I felt good enough to make the trip to (Mary) Hardin-Baylor (in Texas) for the (Whitewater) game. But doctors told me that I was still having my stroke, and they were right.


"The next day, I had no feeling in my right side."


The 56-year-old Pattison still battles the stroke's effects, which include tiring easily and limited but improving motor skills, but you wouldn't know it listening to him on the air. Pattison and Douglas do a masterful job of conveying a game story. Pattison said the Warhawks' Division III status plays a big part in his on-air call.


"I like putting a face on these kids," Pattison said. "Division III football is a third cousin to Division I, but these kids also have stories to tell and faces to be put out.


"Gary and I have a lot of seasoning and have been on the sports side of radio for a long time," Pattison said. "I've been involved in every level of competition, and I take every level serious."


Pattison began broadcasting Warhawk men's basketball and football games in 1989. In his first year on the air, Pattison was the voice behind Whitewater's run to the NCAA Division III men's basketball title.


He continued to pull down double duty for the university until taking a job in media relations with the Green Bay Packers in 2003. Despite a position with one of the most lucrative NFL franchises, Pattison missed his Warhawk family. Former UW-Whitewater Chancellor Jack Miller offered Pattison a job with the university in news and publications in 2004. Pattison jumped at the chance to return to his adopted home.


With Pattison spending most of his work time on the men's athletic program, the university eliminated the news portion of his job and moved him permanently into sports. Pattison made the most of the opportunity, becoming the brainchild behind the hugely popular warhawkfootball.com Web site. Last week alone, the Web site had hits from 38 states and four countries.


"It's not me. It's the name and the success of the program that's driving the site," Pattison said. "When you're hot, you're hot. And Warhawk football is very hot right now. I'm just excited to be able to be a part of it.


"The worst part about it is that I'm probably being over-ambitious right now. Fortunately, (Whitewater Athletic Director) Paul Plinske lets me come in in the morning and do some work before going home to nap for a couple hours."


With today's national title game wrapping up the football season, Pattison will turn his attention to the Warhawks' nationally ranked men's basketball team. This year marked the return to the broadcast booth for Pattison in both football and basketball.


"I can't imagine doing anything else but what I'm doing right now," Pattison said. "I hope to do this for a long time.


"Doctors told me there's no such thing as a minor stroke, but I know mine could've been a lot worse. I can relate to what the players go through over the summer to get ready for the season because I had to go through the same kind of workouts."


Tom Pattison is back in the booth where he belongs. That's a stroke of good luck for UW-Whitewater.



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