Kevin Beers: the voice of the O’rena

Kevin Beers has been the public address (PA) announcer for the Golden Grizzlies for 15 years. Throughout that time, he has become a staple of the O’rena, having multiple famous calls like “That’s traveling, and you can’t do that!”

But Kevin is more than just the PA announcer. He wears many hats and has multiple jobs. He serves as the vice president for Rochester Community Schools and works at HealthQuest Physical as a public relations coordinator.

A natural people person, Kevin uses his communication skills in all three of his jobs. Whether it is negotiating deals with the superintendent, increasing HealthQuest’s community visibility or making a crowd go wild, Kevin is always connecting with people.

He has been the voice of the Golden Grizzlies’ game day experience since 2005, and throughout that time he has seen NBA players, overseas players and future coaches play on the blacktop. Over the past 15 years, the person he’s seen grow the most is his son, Griffin.

Griffin works as a team manager for the men’s basketball team and has been around Oakland basketball for almost his entire life.

“One of the biggest reasons he’s going to Oakland is that he feels he grew up there,” Kevin said. “I mean, I’ve been doing this since he was four years old. I’m thrilled he’s there because I miss seeing him every day.”

Kevin got his start in PA announcing after doing a radio show and coaching basketball at the high school level. Moving into announcing was a way to combine both interests.

He has many interests outside of broadcasting and sports. Becoming a professional songwriter is another ambition Kevin has had an interest in for years, and is starting to act on.

“When I was 17, a girl named Sandy broke my heart,” Kevin said. “I tried to write a song and it was terrible, the first couple of songs I wrote were just awful — but it was a great release. You can write as an emotional release, and that’s where it has been valuable to me throughout my life.”

After his closest childhood friend, Tom, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease six years ago, Kevin wanted to express his love for his friend in a therapeutic way.

“The day after, I wrote a song because I knew I had that to turn to,” Kevin said. “I wrote down a bunch of experiences that just he and I had, he’s the only other person that would remember what I was talking about.”

He then connected with a local band by chance, and the band helped him record the song for Tom in their garage recording studio. When they got done, the band encouraged him to look into songwriting.

Kevin looked into it, kept working at the craft and made progress. One of his songs is  under consideration by Blake Shelton.

A big Michigan sports fan, Kevin became a Barry Sanders and Bad Boy Pistons fan, but had little knowledge of Oakland University sports before taking the job as the PA announcer for the Golden Grizzlies.

“I had been to some games and worked a summer camp for Coach Kampe,” Kevin said. “I knew enough, and back then it was pretty new in Division I still. The level of play has been phenomenal.”

Since 2005, Oakland men’s basketball has seen a considerable jump in notoriety throughout the college basketball landscape. Head Coach Greg Kampe has become a coaching legend, and the school is no longer just thought of as “Oakland, California?”

“That 2005 tournament bid was when people first realized Oakland University wasn’t in California,” Kevin said. “When they won back-to-back Summit League titles, that’s when it really took off. That skyrocketed the program.”

In 2017, Oakland faced off against Michigan State at Little Caesars Arena (LCA), in front of a crowd that set the LCA record for a college basketball game. Kevin got to call that game, acting as if it was a home game for Oakland, despite being a neutral site with many more Michigan State fans than Oakland fans.

“That is my only call in that arena, and it was brand new,” Kevin said. “It was packed, I was very surprised. What a cool experience that was. There were 15 to 20 times more MSU fans than Oakland fans, so I did everything I could to make it Oakland’s home game.”

Calling basketball games for 15 years has been a learning experience. Throughout his career, Kevin has constantly been thinking about how to connect to the crowd without taking away from the game.

His signature calls come from a variety of sources. Sometimes players request a nickname or catchphrase, other times it’s journalists or fans. Perhaps the most famous Oakland game day chant is “That’s traveling, and you can’t do that!” Where the crowd echoes, “you can’t do that” with a pattern of claps.

That call came completely out of nowhere for Kevin. During a Valparaiso game, a player traveled. What happens next has stuck with the O’rena crowds and the Grizz Gang for years.

“It was weird how it happened,” Kevin said. “We had a huge rivalry with Valparaiso that we never won, and we were finally beating them that day. A guy traveled, and out of nowhere I said, ‘Thaaaaat’s traveling,’ and without any forethought at all my mouth opened and out came, ‘and YOU can’t do that.’ There was an instant buzz in the crowd, and there was one Oakland player who looked over at me and just laughed out loud.”

From a DI newcomer to a NCAA tournament threat in 2010 and 2011, Kevin Beers has seen it all. Throughout his time here at Oakland, he feels like he’s an alumnus with how invested he is in the school. Most of all, he’s proud of the school he represents and the athletic programs they have.

“What the program has become is so special,” Kevin said.