Jeff Tirrell wins Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association’s media award

By THOMAS JOHNSTON

Staff Writer

Published: 03-09-2023 9:15 AM

If you played high school sports in Franklin or Hampshire County over the last 40 years, there’s a good chance Jeff Tirrell has called your game. 

After all, Tirrell has been broadcasting high school sports in the area since 1987, with next fall set to be his 37th as a broadcaster. 

Tirrell currently calls games for Bear Country 95.3 FM, and his work hasn’t gone unnoticed. He was recently notified that the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association made him this year’s recipient of its media award. 

Tirrell will be honored on April 30 at the organization’s Hall of Fame banquet at the Westborough Double Tree Hotel. 

“It always feels good to be appreciated,” Tirrell said. “I try to do the best job I can. To get acknowledgment from any organization or individual fan who likes my work always feels great.”

Tirrell was selected for the award due to his dedication and help in growing the game of football. 

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“Jeff’s commitment to Massachusetts high school sports, and in particular high school football, has helped create much excitement throughout Western Massachusetts,” the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association said in a statement.

The award came as a surprise to Tirrell. He received a phone call from a committee member, but at first thought he was receiving a call to talk about Greenfield athletic director and football coach Mike Kuchieski, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame himself this year. 

Instead, they were calling to let him know he had won the media award, something he didn’t even know existed. 

“I got a call from one of the members of the board from the state football Hall of Fame association,” Tirrell said. “Someone out here nominated me, a coach but I’m not sure who. These recipients are typically from the eastern half of the state. It’s not often someone from out here [in Western Mass.] gets honored. My name came up, they asked other coaches and they must have said nice things for me to get the award.

“I had heard word about Mike [being selected for induction] but I had no idea that they had a media award,” Tirrell added. “This guy is calling me and I wasn’t connecting the dots right away. I thought he was talking about Mike and that he wanted it to be publicized. He told me they had a media award and that I was approved as this year’s recipient. It was the definition of something out of left field. It was completely unexpected and wasn’t something I angled for. It just happened which is the best type of surprise.” 

Tirrell will be joined by Kuchieski at the Hall of Fame banquet in April, with both being honored that day. It makes it all the more special for Tirrell, who grew up with the Greenfield coach. 

“It’s so cool that Mike Kuchieski is being inducted on the same day,” Tirrell said. “We went through elementary school, junior high and high school together. I’ve been broadcasting his games for years. I’m super excited for him and he deserves it.”

While Tirrell will go to the banquet with his wife, he will be missing one of his biggest supporters. 

His mom, Shirley Tirrell, passed away on Feb. 21, though was able to learn her son had won the media award before her passing. 

“I’ll be going there with my wife and in a sense be bringing my mother with me,” Tirrell said. “She was always my biggest supporter and fan of my career. She knew about this before she passed and I’ll make sure to acknowledge her that night. This poor woman had to deal with me practicing play-by-play on a recorder in front of the TV when all she wanted to do was relax and watch a movie. She saw how passionate I was about that and always supported me. It’s sad she’s gone. She was such a big supporter of me in every way and in this case, my career.”

When you broadcast games for 37 years, you see just about everything on the field or court. That’s the case for Tirrell, who has plenty of memories from his time in the booth.

Tirrell recalled getting to call the Mike Duprey’s squads at Greenfield and the Chris Lapointe era at Turners Falls, but the one game that sticks out to him? Getting to see Peter Bergeron and Greenfield beat Longmeadow in 1995.

“I’ve gotten to see so many great football teams,” Tirrell said. “One game that really stands out involved the greatest athlete I’ve ever broadcasted in Peter Bergeron. Greenfield was playing bigger schools in the Suburban League and had a showdown against Longmeadow where Peter scored six touchdowns — including the game-winner with nine second left — to win 42-37. That game won Greenfield the Suburban League. There are times where Shawn Huburt and I walk out of the booth feeling like we played the game as we’re just drained physically and emotionally from the twists and turns of the game. That was one of them.”

Tirrell has had his partner, Hubert, alongisde him since 1991 on the football broadcast. The two will be calling their 500th game together at some point next fall, a milestone few get to reach.

As for how long Tirrell will continue doing it? If he had it his way, there’d be 500 more football games in his future.

“It blows my mind we’re about to hit the 500-game mark,” Tirrell said. “I’m going to try to keep going as best as I can, health willing. I’ve had some health challenges in recent years but things have turned for the better now. Health willing, I’ll keep this thing riding.”

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