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Scott M

Williams Arena Announcer [PoorWordUsage] Jonckowski

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'Polish Eagle' perfect fit for barn

by Jim Souhan, Star Tribune

In 1964, [PoorWordUsage] Jonckowski was standing outside Williams Arena, trying to figure out how to get in to watch his beloved Gophers, when the Michigan team bus pulled up. The great Cazzie Russell stepped out.

Jonckowski asked, "Mr. Russell, do you mind if I carry your bag?" Russell said, "Who cares?"

Jonckowski did. He carried the bag all the way to the Michigan locker room, then sneaked behind the Wolverines bench and stayed there all game.

"Nobody said a word," Jonckowski said. "Just unbelievable."

As he grew up, Jonckowski found a more reliable way to access Gophers games for free. Williams Arena, which celebrated its 81st birthday last Wednesday, has featured just two public address announcers in its history. The first was Jules Perlt, who retired in the mid-1980s. The second is Jonckowski, the self-styled "Polish Eagle," who has worked the mike at Gophers basketball and baseball games since 1986 and spent 10 years working Gophers football games, all the while relishing his prime location and access to successive generations of Gophers athletes and coaches.

Athletes leave or retire young and coaches get fired. Our sporting fixtures so often are the people behind the scenes, or behind the mikes.

"I remember listening to Julie, and he had such a distinct voice," Jonckowski said. "He had a nasal tone. He'd call out, 'McHaaaaale!' I used to imitate him all the time. We'd play our back-yard games, and I'd pretend I was doing the public address."

Some kids dream of game-winning shots, others of introducing the starting lineup. Jonckowski, 65, has fallen into the latter category ever since -- as a kid growing up in New Prague -- he started finding his way into local sporting events, like a Forrest Gump with a home-run call.

In the late '50s and early '60s, Jonckowski became a Boy Scout usher at old Memorial Stadium and in Williams Arena. His father's cousin was in charge of the Boy Scouts, and once he discovered his relative, he gave [PoorWordUsage] a prime assignment -- working behind the bench. Thus, he found himself with up-close-and-personal access to the Gophers' two Rose Bowl teams.

"And in basketball, I usually had a place close to the floor," Jonckowski said. "I had a good deal."

He made $60 a week in public relations for the Muskies and Pipers in the American Basketball Association, where he worked with Bob Casey, who would become the legendary misspeaking Twins announcer. "Bob gave me a lot of advice," Jonckowski said. "I always wondered if he made those mistakes on purpose."

Jonckowski even worked as a head field usher for the Vikings in the '60s and '70s. "They put me on the field, and I was kind of a hot dog," he said. "So somebody said, 'Let's put [PoorWordUsage]'s name on the back of his jacket, with three stars.'

"Bud Grant used to go crazy, saying, 'Jonckowski is in all of our game films.' I caught 112 field goals in 17 years, and seven passes that were thrown out of bounds. That was a great deal for me, because everybody knew who I was from those crazy days."

Jonckowski emceed numerous Gophers charity events for former athletic director Paul Giel, and when Perlt retired, Giel told Jonckowski he would be a leading candidate to replace Perlt. When Jonckowski struck up a friendship with Clem Haskins, he pushed for Jonckowski and the rest is Williams Arena history.

Jonckowski is ebullient by nature. He began his career in radio, but after working "for an alcoholic" in Ladysmith, Wis., he returned home to work at KSMM (AM-1530) in Shakopee. When the station went to a religious format, Jonckowski became a guest speaker and emcee, offering the motto "Laugh and Live Longer." "I've done 30th birthday parties, mock weddings, bowling banquets," he said. "Whenever they need somebody, I can fill the bill."

He does laugh a lot. He used to tell jokes to Haskins before Gophers games. After developing the same relationship with Dan Monson that most people in Dinkytown had -- nonexistent -- he began telling jokes to Tubby Smith before games, to "loosen him up."

The first: "I told Tubby before his first game, 'My wife ran away with my best friend, and man, do I miss him.' Just crazy stuff like that. Tubby will come over before every game and say, 'Give me a quick one.' I try to make him laugh, help him relax."

He knows his role.

***************************************

I had [PoorWordUsage] record my voicemail message on my old phone in college. He is pretty beloved in Williams. I can still remember some pretty big calls. He would stretch out player's names. Sam Jaayy-ccoobbssooon! Erriicc Harrrriiisss!

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He is a funny guy.

My wife knows him really well as she and her brothers were very involved in Shakopee B-Ball.

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    • 3 hours ago, sportfish said:

      Thanks for  good read ! 

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      MJ1657 likes this
    • I also use the zman original chatterbait. I am a chatterbait nut. Probably one of my favorite baits to throw. The strike king pure poisons are great too but swim a little lower in the water column than the zmans. My biggest fish the past few years have usually come on a chatterbait in the spring and fall. Early spring and late fall I will use mostly a chartreuse/white chatterbait with a white super fluke as a trailer. Very subtle action on the fluke, which I love in the colder water periods. Once the water starts warming up a bite I will switch to a lake fork tackle live magic shad. I'll throw mostly the zmans candy craw with a green pumpkin lake fork magic shad. I fish these over the top and through weeds in the spring and fall and rip them if they get caught in the weeds. They also work great around docks and skipping them under docks. A few weeks ago I wish fishing a dirty lake with a great dock bite and caught about 18-19lbs off of chatterbaits by fishing them around docks and skipping them under docks. 

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      They have to tell themselves something because admitting that their party and these candidates are trash is too hard for some. It's almost religious the amount of devotion some people have to these parties.

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    • Yep for most in the group it was our first real trip out West, next trip will probably be mule deer, tag soup on elk hurts a lot more with how pricey those tags are.
    • I am planning to be there as well.
    • I also use the zman original chatterbait. I am a chatterbait nut. Probably one of my favorite baits to throw. The strike king pure poisons are great too but swim a little lower in the water column than the zmans. My biggest fish the past few years have usually come on a chatterbait in the spring and fall. Early spring and late fall I will use mostly a chartreuse/white chatterbait with a white super fluke as a trailer. Very subtle action on the fluke, which I love in the colder water periods. Once the water starts warming up a bite I will switch to a lake fork tackle live magic shad. I'll throw mostly the zmans candy craw with a green pumpkin lake fork magic shad. I fish these over the top and through weeds in the spring and fall and rip them if they get caught in the weeds. They also work great around docks and skipping them under docks. A few weeks ago I wish fishing a dirty lake with a great dock bite and caught about 18-19lbs off of chatterbaits by fishing them around docks and skipping them under docks. 
    • I think we all need to keep in mind that the defense is basically the exact same group of players and coaches that were together all of last year.  They should be performing better than the offense.  Whereas, the offense has been completely reshaped during the off season and through injury.  It will take time to gel.  Also, remember the impact Diggs made last year once he was ready to play.  Zimmer just made the same comment about Treadwell not being ready yet.  Not saying he will make a huge impact, but he could provide an improvement over Johnson.  The O line needs to get it figured out.  Berger is solid, Fusco and Clemmings are improving.  Boone/Sirles and Smith need to get better quickly. The defense carried the team through the last two weeks, which are also the most difficult weeks with the exception of GB in GB.  They are in great shape with what appears to be a favorable schedule based on early results in the NFL.  If the offense improves and the defense remains solid, they should have a good chance to win in most games.  Not saying they will win all games, just a chance to win.  And hope it doesn't come down to a last second field goal!
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