Now in his sixth season as the voice of the football, women’s and men’s basketball teams at California University of Pennsylvania, Tom Lazar is at home with a microphone in his hands.

Some of his earliest memories were in press boxes with his dad, Tomm Lazar, who was the legendary voice of the Belle Vernon Area Leopards football team for almost a decade and had many patented phrases such as, “hold your cards.”

According to Lazar, his early introduction to the announcing game laid the foundation for his passion today.

“Hands down, hearing my dad on Friday nights at Jim Weir Stadium, getting the crowd in an uproar when the BVA Leopards took the field or after a long touchdown or first down made me want to be an announcer,” he said. “Recalling not only some of the lines he would say, but more of how he said them and how excited he sounded, I could tell that he enjoyed it.

“That was my dad and I wanted to be just like him.”

A 2004 graduate of Greensburg Central Catholic and a graduate of Waynesburg College in 2008 with an emphasis in Radio and Television Broadcasting and a minor in Business Management, Lazar is the Training Coordinator at 84 Lumber where he also helps construct and voice over the online training requirements for the company.

Building his announcing resume from a young age, Lazar was an occasional fill-in for Bill DeFabio at Washington Wild Things games while interning with the team.

While at Waynesburg College, Lazar got to know then Sports Information Director Matt Kifer. The connection paid off as Kifer messaged Lazar in the spring of 2014 to set up an interview at Cal U.

Kifer was hired at the SID at Cal U by then, and Lazar interviewed with him and Athletic Director Karen Hjerpe.

“I was more than interested with Cal U being a great academic and sports university and being close to home,” Lazar said. “I accepted their offer.”

There is no doubt, for those who know Lazar, that he keeps a connection with his father through announcing. His father passed away in 2007.

“Everyone who knows me knows that I still announce to have that close relationship with my father play on,” Lazar said in a more somber tone. “My fiancé Rachel, my family and my employers all know how much this means to me that I am afforded the opportunity to keep that connection alive and they support it 100 percent.

“But, if I didn’t enjoy it so much, I wouldn’t do it and I still get butterflies before each and every game!”

Tom is now carrying on the tradition that his father Tomm (“I am not worthy of a second M as my father was,” the younger Lazar said) started as he occasionally takes his son Leo, who will turn three later this month, to games with him.

“I don’t believe that Leo knows what I am doing when ‘daddy is working,’ but he definitely knows something special is happening when I press the button to talk into the microphone,” Lazar said through laughter. “All he seems to want to do is press that button!

“I use ‘hold your cards’ and someday, I will explain to Leo the true meaning of the phrase!”

However, according Lazar’s mother Shirley, Leo does know what daddy is doing.

“I don’t think I truly knew what it meant to me to see Tommy follow in his father’s footsteps until recently when I was at a Cal U men’s basketball game with Leo,” Shirley Lazar said. “We took a trip to the concession stand right before the start of the game and as soon as Tommy started announcing, Leo said, ‘that’s my daddy!’

“Those three words gave me great delight and brought back loving memories as when I hear Tommy’s voice announcing, I hear my husband’s. Their voices are identical.”

Shirley Lazar continued on about Leo recognizing his dad’s voice.

“Those three words are probably something Tommy said about his dad time and time again, which is why I think he chose to walk in his father’s footsteps,” she said with emotion in her voice. “The BVA press box was our second home for many years and it holds many fantastic memories for Tommy, his sister Larissa and me.

“I think Tommy is continuing the tradition and making new memories for his son, Leo.”

What does Shirley Lazar think her husband would tell Tommy if he was still alive?

“Hold your cards, Tommy, for you are playing a well-dealt hand,” she said. “And, keep using the gift God gave you, your voice.”

There is no doubt that Mr. Lazar is looking down on Tommy and Leo with pride, with his patented smile and his memorable laughter as Tommy continues to hold his cards and play his well-dealt hand much like he did when in Tommy’s shoes.

Pitt seeded 6th in volleyball

The seedings for the 2019 women’s volleyball tournament were announced over the weekend and Pitt is sixth. The seed is the highest in program history after the Lady Panthers went 29-1 during the season.

Pitt hosts Howard Friday and with a win, it plays the winner of Cincinnati and VCU on Saturday. If Pitt advances to the regional finals, it may have to go to third-seeded Stanford. The top four seeds host the third and fourth rounds.

Penn State is seeded 11th and hosts Princeton Friday with American and Towson the other two teams in Happy Valley. Should the Lady Panthers and Nittany Lions both protect their home courts, they will meet in the Round of 16.

The NCAA semifinals and finals are at PPG Paints Arena Dec. 19-21.

Crazy Stat of the Week

When Penn State’s top-ranked wrestling team lost at fifth-ranked Arizona State on Nov. 22, it ended a 60-match winning streak. The dual loss was the first for the Nittany Lions in 1,771 days.

How dominating was the streak? Of the 60 wins, 32 were against ranked teams and only three matches during the streak were decided by six or fewer points.

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Email questions/comments to powerhousehughes@gmail.com or tweet to @BillHughes_III.

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