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Longtime Roseville Rotarian provides the WOW! WOW! WOW! factor

Oakmont Roseville Rotary Tournament founder and announcer John Piches, 92, has never missed a game in 40 years
By: Bill Poindexter, Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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His voice can be heard from outside the gymnasium at Oakmont High School: “WOW! WOW! WOW!”

John Piches, 92, looks harmless enough. Wearing dark slacks and a sweater with a ball cap, the former U.S. Navy man and World War II veteran sits in a stadium chair three rows behind the scorer’s table, leaning back comfortably against the next row of bleachers.

His microphone, on the other hand, packs quite a punch. When a basket is made, when a player is fouled, everyone hears it.

“WOW! WOW! WOW! WOW! From under the bucket. From underrrrr the buckeeeetttt,” he says, slower and with more emphasis the second time. “In the circle and shooting, in the circle anndddddd shooting, Nadia Espino, Nadiaaaaaa Espinooooooo.”

Piches, pronounced pee-SHAYS, though most people say “Peaches,” founded the Oakmont Roseville Rotary girls basketball tournament 40 years ago. A 65-year member of the Rotary Club of Roseville, Piches has never missed a meeting.

Espino, a junior at Roseville, said hearing her name “got me nervous” until she saw Piches. “He’s enthusiastic. He’s very positive.”

Said sister Natalia Espino, “I just thought it was really cool because nobody usually announces your name for girls.”

The tournament started in 1973 after Piches approached then-Rotary president Ken Sahl asking if something could be done for female athletes. Piches said the first Rotary tournament included teams from Susanville and Redding, but it was missing one ingredient: an announcer. Piches took the mike and has never missed calling a game.

“He made me hug him tonight,” Roseville coach Ron Volk said. “He’s a great guy. You don’t arrive here and not expect to hear the ‘WAH WAH WAH.’”

“I’m not a good announcer, but the girls like it. Boy, do they like me,” Piches said, preparing rosters for the next game after watching Roseville beat Folsom 44-40 in the first round. “You don’t see this kind of announcing downtown.”

True, you wouldn’t hear at a Sacramento Kings or Sacramento State game: “Hey-hey, look at the score. These gals came to play. If they play like they’ve played today, what are you going to see tomorrow?

“What are yoouuuuu going to see tomorrowwwww?”

Contact Bill Poindexter at billp@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at BillP_RsvPT.