What started as a one-game favor as public-address announcer for Glen Burnie High School football has turned into a 16-year vocation for Max Powers.
"(Former Glen Burnie Athletic Director) Tom Newbrough knew I was doing the announcing for the Harundale youth organization and he asked me if I would do his game on Saturday," Powers explained. "I said, 'What do you mean, do the game?' He said, 'Will you announce the game?' "
The Harundale resident declined at first, requesting that Newbrough extend the offer to one of the upperclassmen's parents, since his son, Mike, was only a sophomore at the time.
"Tom said, 'We absolutely need you,' and I told him, 'I'll do it for you this time,' and I've been doing it ever since.
"Every year, they give me a raise," he added, smiling. "They just add another zero."
A jovial man who sports a military-style haircut, Powers said it is the positive nature of the position that brings him back to the press box each footballand basketball season.
Disgruntled by the "bad rap" that shadows today's teens, Powers said he strives to thrust youngsters into a more favorable light.
"Kids are no better or no worse then we make them," said Powers, who also has a daughter, Sue, a 1985 graduate of Glen Burnie. "The 2 percent of the rotten eggs get 97 percent of the publicity. I'm there simply to give them the encouragement, credit and exposure they deserve.
"For many of these youngsters, this is their final day in the sun. Most of them will never wear another uniform for an organization as close-knit, because the extent of their abilities ends on the high-school level. Therefore, these are some of the most valuable memories they will have in their life.
"Often in their mind's eye, some of the greatest moments of achievement were at a time when someone else would never even remember, but to them, in thatgame, on that night, that was the absolute ultimate in accomplishment.
"It sticks in their mind, and they remember that because somebody heard their name. That's what it's all about. These are the moments when memories are more indelibly imprinted than at any other time in life."
Helping to provide such memories is important to Powers, a native of Gentryville, Ind. A 1952 graduate of Chrisney High School, the self-proclaimed "farm boy" was reared with traditional values.
During his junior and senior years of high school, he worked at a radio station, WBNL in Boonesville, Ind., where he produced a weekly 10-minute local sports program. It was there that he discovered his calling and developed his wit.
"Everything I say in the booth is absolutely unrehearsed," said Powers, who attended Indiana Central (nowIndianapolis University) and he studied history before being draftedin the service. "All I do in preparation (for a game) is get the rosters of the two teams, and that's it. Nothing is written or canned.
"A lot of the things I come up with are just spur of the moment. IfI've got a couple of seconds, I figure I might as well fill it with something."
One of Powers' favorite topics during lapses in actionis Glen Burnie's concession stand -- better known as "The Gopher Hut."
"There's a little psychology in that," said Powers, who comically boasts, "At The Gopher Hut, prices are born, they're not raised.
"You really can talk people into being hungry."
Whether he's rambling about "the All-American hot dog, a meal on a bun," "taste-teasing delicious hot chocolate" or "that tantalizing taste-treat, Sprite," Powers is never at a loss for words -- or for a volunteering hand.
A member of the Glen Burnie Boosters for nearly two decades, Powers served three two-year terms as president of the organization. During his tenure, he led the school in its effort to raise the $42,000 needed to illuminate "Pop" Whalen Field. He also helped to design and install the press box erected in 1985.
"He's been true blue Glen Burnie," Glen Burnie Athletic Director Terry Bogle said. "Max has done a great job for us here, and he's been a great asset to our program.
"He really loves what he's doing, and he's a natural for it. He's up there in the box, calling the game, selling food and doing more than we ask of him."
And if they stop asking? "That's fine," Powers said.
"I've left the door open from day one. I indicated to the administration that they can fire me at any time, or if there ever should be a parent that would say, 'Hey, I'd like a shot at that,' I think they deserve it.
"If they don't fire me, they're eventually going to need to install a wheelchair lift in the press box to get me up there."