‘This is the year to be at Bird Bowl’: Harlingen football announcer shares about his 11 years on the job

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HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) – The Friday night lights were turned off yesterday due to inclement weather on the field, but the excitement has carried over into today and Harlingen’s two high school football teams will face off today at 1 p.m. at the J. Lewis Boggus Stadium. One Harlingen resident says this is the most excited he’s been for a Bird Bowl in a while.  

Photo Courtesy: Aaron Saenz

It is not every day that you get an offer over lunch that changes the way you spend your Fridays for the next 11 football seasons, but that’s how Harlingen play-by-play announcer, Aaron Sanez, was offered the job.  

“I said, ‘sure, I’d like to do that,’ and that’s how I came into it. Just offered an opportunity at lunch,” Saenz laughed. 

The school district’s communications director, Shane Strubhart, picked up on Saenz’s ability to communicate in a way that was needed on the district’s audio broadcasts.  

“My job is to call the offense and to describe what’s going and also try to paint a picture of some scenarios and things that may happen,” Saenz said.  

While Saenz did not have experience announcing football games, he did have qualifying factors in his resume. During his time in college, Saenz studied communications and played football for a year at Sul Ross State University. 

But it is the experience in public speaking Saenz gained as an adult after moving to Harlingen 15 years ago that sets him apart. In a position where many would crumble in nervousness, Saenz feels at home when speaking to crowds.  

Saenz preaching at Valley Praise. [Photo Courtesy: Aaron Saenz]

While some may recognize Saenz’s voice from the Harlingen football broadcasts, others listen to him in a different setting: from a church pew on Sunday mornings at the Valley Praise Harlingen Campus where Saenz serves as a Pastor.  

“[Announcing] gave me the opportunity to do something I always wanted to do,” Saenz said. “Speaking is something I have to do every week… I have viewed this as an excellent continuation of that.” 

Between church and football, Saenz’s favorite aspect about his world is being surrounded by the community, something that was missing at the Bird Bowl last year.  

“Sad” was the word he used to describe the energy at last year’s Bird Bowl. Though the football players gave it their best, the crowd just wasn’t there. “When the fans get loud I can hear through the glass,” Saenz described about sitting up in the booth. “Last year was just about football, this year it’s more about the community.” 

He expects this year to be different. Not only will the stadium be full, but one of the teams is expected to bring a level of competitiveness not seen in over a decade. 

Saenz with his family. [Photo Courtesy: Aaron Saenz]

“Coach Gonzalez came [to Harlingen High School South] in the spring, and I can feel it, there’s a big shift, there’s an expectancy to win. Plus, he has the talent at South as well. So now when I’m looking at the programs, it’s a toss up. I see both teams have a little bit of different style, but any team can win [Friday] and it won’t be a fluke if South wins, it’ll be because that program has been resurrected,” Saenz said. “This is the most excited I’ve been for a Bird Bowl since I’ve been calling.” 

Saenz says he plans on continuing to announce as long as it does not interfere with being there for each of his four kids’ activities.  

This will be the second year the UIL has allowed games to be broadcast online. You can watch the stream through the HCISD YouTube channel

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