Remembering Mack Calvert, WCPS Hall of Famer and ‘Voice of the Yellow Jackets’
This is a piece I knew was on the horizon for several months. The only problem was, I wasn’t sure how to write it without a coldness or detachment that simply didn’t feel right for describing the man Mack Calvert was. The Sun’s first sports editor and a long-time broadcaster, Mack (a graduate in the Woodford County High School class of 1976) and WCHS athletics are almost inseparable entities. Rather than a simple summary of his career accomplishments, I have opted to run this piece Darrin Douglas and I collaborated on. As his broadcast partner for several decades, Darrin’s connection to Mack is one that he and I hope can properly frame the personal impact that the newly-inducted WCPS Hall of Famer made on the community. We lost Mack at the end of 2017. Then again, when he lives in so many of our hearts, he cannot be truly lost. On Saturday night the Woodford County Public Schools welcomed its latest Hall of Fame class. I personally knew most of this HOF class, which made it truly emotional on my part as I reflected and remembered the contributions made by each inductee. But my emotions produced tears as the emcee for the night’s festivities, Ben Chandler, began to list the accomplishments of Stewart McBrayer “ Mack” Calvert. What made Mack’s induction even more personal for me was the 33 years the two of us spent together as members of the Woodford County broadcast team. Along with fellow inductee Jim Gay, we brought Yellow Jacket football and basketball into homes all across Woodford County and Central Kentucky. Mack’s easy style and unmistakable voice made those who tuned in feel as though they were right there in the stadium or gymnasium. Mack was humble in his abilities. In truth, he’d probably be embarrassed to have something like this written about him. He didn’t like the attention he would receive from calling the games. In fact, I think he hated it. You’d put that headset on him though, and he would transform like Bruce Banner turning into the Hulk. He’d go from this quiet, humble, introverted guy into this broadcast superstar. It was like a switch flipped once you put that microphone in front of him. Often times I’d ask him, “Man, why don’t you apply for something bigger? You could be doing U.K. games!” He told me, “I’m happy where I am. I love what I do,” and it’s true. Nobody loved Woodford County athletics like Mack Calvert. As good as he was behind the mic, he was equally as talented as a writer for the Woodford Sun as its first ever Sports Editor and as a sixth grade social studies teacher in the public school system. Watching him teach was a joy. His work ethic when preparing for broadcasts was only outdone by his preparation for his students as an educator. I learned so much about the power of preparation and research just by being his protege. The teacher and coach in him didn’t see me as some snot-nosed kid trying to take his place. He saw me as someone he could work with and improve. As a family man, nobody was better. He was a great husband, a great father, a great son, a great brother and a great friend. All of his children were such strong, distinct personalities from one another and he seemed to always know exactly which buttons to push and how to respond and encourage them, even with how different they were. He was a loving husband, even when he did things that I think must have drove Sheila crazy. There was one time he had promised her that he’d take her out to a steak dinner after a broadcast. Well, I ended up tagging along but as a student at the time, I didn’t have steak dinner kind of money. But Mack invited me and I wanted to go, so I went. Since I couldn’t do steak, the three of us ended up getting Kentucky hot browns instead. I think Sheila starred daggers through both of us at dinner that night - at me for intruding on date night, and Mack for not knowing any better and just bringing me along. When my mother died, Mack was the first person there for me after my immediate family. I am humbled as I succeed my mentor and friend as the play-by-play announcer for the Jackets. Although taken from us all to soon, I can say with the utmost conviction that there was, there is and there will always be one true “Voice of the Yellow Jackets, and it’s Stewart McBrayer “Mack” Calvert.