WESTERLY — Charles Holdredge III worries about his eyes.
They’re not what they used to be, and each football season gets a little more difficult for the 76-year-old. Day games, he said, are easier to call than night games.
On a frigid winter afternoon, he looks down on a beat-up Augeri Field from the brand-new press box where he volunteers as the voice of the Bulldogs.
Players have come and gone. So, too, have coaches. There are new bleachers, a new sound system. Holdredge, though, is the constant in Westerly High School football, one that hasn’t changed in a quarter of a century.
“Charlie is not only the voice that players, coaches, parents and fans expect to hear, but he is also the bridge that connects the old with the new,” Athletic Director Jamey Vetelino said. “His voice on Friday nights lets people know it’s game time. It’s time to take the field and play like a Bulldog.
“Just hearing his voice, Friday nights, 7 p.m., makes everyone feel good and reminds us of the good times of the past and good times to come.”
Holdredge has been the public address announcer for WHS football games since 1989. His contributions to the school’s athletics, which include raising the bulk of the money needed for the lights around the field, have earned him the Lawrence P. Gallogly Humanitarian Award.
The Providence Gridiron Club, an organization that inducted him into its Hall of Fame in 2003, will honor Holdredge with the award at a banquet in North Kingstown on April 2.
“It means a lot to me,” said Holdredge, who lives in Westerly and has been a member of the Watch Hill Fire Department for 57 years. “When I was a youngster I wanted to be the announcer for the Red Sox. This is the next best thing. Announcing events always came natural to me.”
Holdredge was a three-sport athlete in football, basketball and baseball at Stonington High School, and went on to play football at American International College in Springfield. He graduated from Boston University and served in the Army’s 76th Infantry Division after college. He played fast pitch softball at Fort Dix for his regimental team. He continued to play fast pitch softball while working for the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics and later switched to slow pitch and played in the Westerly Softball League.
Holdredge is a member of the Rhode Island Reds Hockey Heritage Society and an 18-year member of the board of directors of the Providence Gridiron Club. He’s been the public address announcer for the Westerly Community Credit Union Holiday Basketball Tournament.
“I’m a lifelong sports enthusiast,” he said.
In Westerly, Holdredge has been involved with coaching and was a member of the Westerly High School sports boosters, the group that raised money for the lights. Holdredge said he and his wife, Jane, spent a year on the project.
“We practically went door-to-door, business-to-business,” he said. “That was one of the biggest contributions. Now, other sports get to use those lights.”
His voice-of-the-Bulldogs gig began when the regular football announcer never showed up to a game Holdredge was attending. He walked up to the press box and offered to do it.
“Coach Holdredge isn’t just the voice of the Westerly Bulldogs, he’s a symbol of our pride,” said senior Charles Elliott, who also will be honored at the banquet on April 2. The Providence Gridiron Club named Elliott the Division II-A Lineman of the Year. “As a player, you never really see him, you just know his voice. He’s a part of the Westerly tradition.”
Holdredge said he does pretty well figuring out the pronunciation of names. If he has no idea how to pronounce a name, he’ll get on the P.A. system and ask a representative from the opposing team to report to the press box.
“I have to be here at least the next four years,” Holdredge said. “My grandson is coming up to the high school and he’ll play for the Bulldogs. After that, if my eyesight doesn’t get any worse, I’ll be here.”
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