Radio listeners to Yankton High School football and basketball games will recognize the voice calling the action.
Joe Van Goor is back.
The 1978 YHS graduate who has been a fixture in Yankton radio for four decades officially took the reins this week as Sports Director for 5-Star Communications (Classic Hits 106.3 and ESPN 101.5/AM 1570).
Van Goor —in his 44th year in radio — had previously served as the station’s Sports Director from 1993-2012 and was the ‘voice of the Bucks and Gazelles’ from 1999-2012.
“As an alum, it’ll be a pleasure to reconnect with Yankton High School coaches, and Bucks and Gazelles fans,” he said this week from the station’s downtown Yankton office.
Although Van Goor will move to a new role, he hasn’t exactly stepped away from 5-Star Communications, he joked.
He moved to a part time role in April 2013, when he began an eight-season run as the play-by-play voice of University of South Dakota football and men’s basketball. Van Goor also continued to help the station with various other tasks, including play-by-play for area high school and amateur baseball games.
“I’m probably not as enamored with traveling as I once was,” Van Goor said. “I realized it was time to probably slow down and stay closer to home.”
He certainly remains busy, though.
This summer, Van Goor was presented with an opportunity to broadcast Iowa high school baseball and softball games for Fuller Digital Solutions (the games are available on YouTube).
“It’s been a nice way to stay in the game,” he said.
In addition, Van Goor has also broadcast a few South Central League amateur baseball games this summer, and will do the same for the District 6B Tournament later this month. He also serves as the primary public address announcer for the state amateur baseball tournament in Mitchell.
Between those responsibilities and many others, Van Goor has certainly kept himself busy over the years.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve kept myself fit or anything,” he joked, “but I’ve learned how to pace myself.”
Van Goor began his sportscasting career with WNAX in 1984 — he credits the late Norm Hilson for encouraging him to give radio a try — and said he vividly remembers his first sports broadcast: A Crofton versus Bloomfield girls’ basketball game at the Knox County Tournament in Creighton, Nebraska.
Of all the games he has called in his career (and he estimates that number is in the thousands), Van Goor said one game in particular stands out.
He was calling the action courtside in 2018 when Yankton won the championship at the Class AA state boys’ basketball tournament. It marked the program’s first state title in 40 years, and Van Goor was a member of the previous championship team in 1978.
“Calling that was very special to me,” he said.
Over his 37 years as a sportscaster, Van Goor has experienced many exciting moments, but he said his focus has always been on his audience.
“I don’t make it about me; I make it about the game,” he said. “That’s something I’ve always kept in mind.”
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