Xavier's AJ Helgeson enjoys being the voice of girls' basketball

HS journalism: Saints junior was recommended by speech teacher

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Most high schoolers attend basketball games to cheer on a team, but AJ Helgeson is at Xavier High School on game nights for a different reason.

Helgeson, a Xavier junior, has a unique role as the announcer for the girls’ home basketball games.

After the previous announcer was not able to announce anymore, the basketball program was in need of a new voice.

“I recommended AJ because he has been involved in speech, and he has the voice and personality that would go well with being an announcer,” said Lisa Streif, the speech director at Xavier.

Helgeson jumped at the role when he was asked.

“I was interested in it, so I talked to (Tom) Coach Lilly, and he seemed really excited about me doing it,” Helgeson said.

Helgeson did not go into his first game as the announcer alone. Pat Collins, the Xavier boys’ announcer, walked Helgeson through each step for three games.

“The first time I announced alone, we were playing against Decorah,” Helgeson said. “I was freaking out, but I got the girls’ sophomore/JV game to warm-up. By the time the varsity game came, I was no longer nervous and was just having fun.”

Although it is Helgeson’s first year announcing, he has found enjoyment out of it.

“I love announcing the games,” Helgeson said. “It’s teaching me a lot of things about the game that I didn’t know about. I am now able to hold a semi-intelligent conversation about basketball.”

Besides announcing at games, Helgeson also is involved in speech, show choir, choir and football.

The Saints host Waverly-Shell Rock tonight in a Class 4A regional final. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.

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