The late Stan Fricks way preached the Oconee in his time at the head of Oconee County High School’s baseball program.
Longtime public service announcer Ben Bridges has owned the voice that has attempted to take the literal meaning of the Oconee way and carry its essence to the ears of those who enter Warrior Stadium on Friday nights in the fall for a high school football game.
In his time calling the games over the Warrior Stadium press box Bridges has taken heed to the words of Fricks.
Bridges has been a Warrior his entire life. He played for the Warriors, graduated from the school and has coached at the recreational levels of football in the community. His roots run deep at OCHS.
Even so, Bridges remains fair. That’s the Oconee way. Out of default the Oconee way is going about things the right way 100 percent of the time and doing them with care. Bridges has always taken much care in his responsibilities on Friday nights. He makes it a point to recognize the usually unheralded.
“This is high school football, not the WWE,” Bridges said. “I’ve never been a trash mouth announcer. I’ve always announced two kids from the visiting team if I can and give the best possible description that I can. I also like to recognize linemen. It’s very seldom that they get their names announced.”
Fair being fair, Bridges and the rest of the crew that assists him in the press box on Fridays are all OCHS alumni. They take pride in the opportunity to give back to the school they love.
“I think being a player and being an alumnus is great,” Bridges said. “We take a lot of pride in it and we’re getting to give back to our team. I can tell a lot of stories, but it’s just a special feeling.”
Friday marked Bridges’ 150th game as the ‘Voice of the Warriors’ as the Warriors hosted Spalding High School. It’s a number Bridges struggles to find words to match the gratitude he feels thinking about the time in between Sept. 11 1992 when the Warriors edged ahead of Commerce High School to win the very first game he called and Friday as the Warriors rolled to their second win of 2019.
The in-between has been fun for Bridges. His memory still stands fresh of the night he and Larry Munson shared the press box to put words to the Warriors’ lone state championship win in 1999 and keen on the names and faces he’s called and seen coming in and out of OCHS over the years.
“Ernie Green, Danny Manders and I did our first game up there in 1992 and we had no clue what we were doing,” Bridges said. “We learned from every game. We grew together and Don Parr came on board with me and every game we just cherish it because it could be our last one. We really love it.”
The signal of how much time and passion has gone into his career as the Voice of the Warriors has been seen in the young people accompanying him on Friday nights.
In 1993, Bridges’ son was born and in his young years, he joined Bridges in the press box. Now, in year 28 Bridges’ makes the climb up the Warrior Stadium bleachers with his granddaughter.
For Bridges, it felt like a flash, one that when his eyes have come back into focus, he remains thankful to have been blinded by the times he’s had.
“It’s just unbelievable,” Bridges said. “I look back to 28 seasons and I’m blown away. I can’t believe it. It really blows my mind. Every game is a good one. Win or lose I cherish them. I cherish those Friday nights.”