Voice of the Streaks moving on
by John Ring
In the last 50 years, there have been The Big Three when it comes to broadcasting Silver Streak basketball.
Bill Pearson broadcasted for WGIL during the glory years of John Thiel. Robb Strack has covered boys basketball during two different tenures for both WGIL and WAIK radio.
Dave Klockenga has covered girls basketball for WAIK since 1992 but will be leaving for Des Moines, Iowa next summer along with his wife, Janet, who will be working for the Des Moines Register.
Klockenga is included with the Big Three for a very unique reason; he and his radio station were the forerunners in helping to make Silver Streak girls basketball what it is today.
Not only were they first in line. Klockenga and his broadcast partner, Jerry Hise, covered the entire Silver Streak run of excellance. They were at every State game and were the first Galesburg radio station to treat the girls on the same level as the guys.
That in itself is reason enough to give Klockenga a lionŐs share of the credit. He and WAIK were leaps and bounds ahead of both the Register-Mail and WGIl. They were even ahead of us.
Klockenga came to Galesburg from Geneseo in 1990 as the News Director for WAIK. "I did my first game with Dick Shimmin and then worked with Rob Derry for a while," said Klockenga. "We would do conference games at home and then we started doing a couple on the road and some Regional games."
"I was so new in town that I wasn't thinking long term or how the girls program may get big. I just got into the flow of it. I hooked up with Jerry [Hise] in 1993 and then we did the AlWood games at State when their girls team went there back to back in 1994. Then it was in 1995 that the Streaks won the Sectional and it was like the barrier was down and they were off. You could feel it, that the Streaks were starting something great."
Klockenga has seen a lot of changes in girls basketball over the years. "There not only has been significant improvement in the last fifteen years but significant improvment in the last five years. Years ago, there wasn't a lot of difference in the top four teams in Class A and the top four teams in Class AA. Jerry and I would watch them when they had both classes at State at the same time. Back then, if you had two good scorers, you could make it to State or at least win the Sectional. Now, you need four quality starters and a good bench. Plus, there's a seperation now between the classes. The elite programs have done that. Schools have caught up. That's nothing against Galesburg but that's a reason they haven't made it back to State in a few years."
The WAIK broadcaster also spoke about last years Sectional powerhouse field in which any of the four teams (Galesburg, Morton, Rock Island Alleman or Peoria Central) could have made it to the semifinals. "That's absolutely true. Alleman should have and could have beat Morton. Galesburg should have and could have beat Morton. And Galesburg struggled to beat Central."
The Streak broadcaster also has noticed the lower scores at the high school level. Morton was shutout in the 2nd quarter of their semifinal game. Tracy Pontius scored four points in regulation against Galesburg; Brenna Saline had just three points against Morton.
"The emphasis on defense in girls basketball has lowered the scores," Klockenga continued, "and every possession means something. They may look at a shot clock down the road because the defenses have improved so much. It may take something like that."
Klockenga has interviewed dozens of coaches over the years, in both boys and girls basketball. "It seems like the boys have coaches that are more colorful or are charectors. Guys like Jerry Leggett or Steve Sandholm. But I enjoyed interviewing girls coaches like Rod Leatherman of Rock Island or Jay Hatch of Alleman. There were times when coaches wouldn't even be available but that was with Public League schools. I was never able to track down Dorothy Gaters of Marshall."
Asked what he would miss the most about covering Silver Streak basketball, Klockenga replied, "Basketball was a hobby for me, not part of my job. It wasn't why I was here. It was a fun outlet. I never considered it work and it's an outlet I don't have now. But I'll miss the comaradrie of it, working with Jerry and guys like Jimmie Carr. I had fun, it was the whole package.
Dave Klockenga's Five Best Calls on the Radio
(I asked Mr. Klockenga to choose five of his best calls over the 16 years he broadcasted Silver Streak girls basketball. The ones listed below "are in no certain order" according to Klockenga. But he said he would remember them the best)
1. Taylor Young's three-point shot at the buzzer against Morton, 2007: "It was one of those things where the player takes a shot and not only did I think it was going in but I thought it would bank in and it did. She threw up a prayer and it was answered."
2. Jaque Howard's three-pointer at the buzzer to beat Mendota, 1998: "It was at the State Farm Classic. I can't remember if it beat them or forced the game into overtime. A great shot."
3. Molly Watson's fullcourt drive against Freeport, Sectionals, 1996: "Incredible last second shot. A break through game for the Silver Streaks basketball program."
4. Sarah Larson's buzzer beater against Loyola, 1999: "Technically, we couldn't see much of what was going on because the ball was on the floor and we were sitting courtside and couldn't see."
5. Megan Pacheco's three-point shot against Moline, Sectionals, 2001: "A big one that forced the game into overtime and a Streaks win."