By Mason Lyttle
JANESVILLE, WI – Every time the Jets score a goal at home this season, it will again be Greg “Big Red” Hanthorn enthusiastically delivering you the scoring announcement.
“Big Red” will reprise his role as Public Address Announcer for the 2016-17 season, the eighth in Janesville Jets history.
“I’m always excited about Jets hockey,” said Hanthorn. “Through my years with the organization, it’s always been great to watch these young men come in as young, unmolded talent, and to watch what [head coach and general manager] Joe Dibble does with them throughout the year, and to watch what they do for the community.”
“Big Red,” the 29-year radio veteran, is currently on weekday mornings, serving up classic country tunes on Iron Country 101.9FM/1490AM, the first commercial FM radio station ever based in Beloit. Hanthorn, a Milton native, knows Rock County like the back of his hand, and will quickly point out the Jets’ appeal beyond Janesville proper.
“I don’t look at the Jets as just a Janesville thing,” Hanthorn said. “You have to look at it as a whole Rock County thing. These guys go all over, to communities all over, helping out.”
The Jets, winners of Forward Janesville’s 2013 Community Improvement Award, dedicate over 2,000 hours of community service each season. Last year’s captain, third-year defenseman Alex Smith, received the 2016 NAHL Community Service Award. Hanthorn, a community-minded entertainer and promoter, appreciates the Jets’ commitment to service.
“When Joe Dibble arrived in town five years ago, things really started to pick up,” said Hanthorn. “Not only has Joe taken the team to a higher level as a sports team, but as an asset to the community, too. I’ve seen the community reach out and embrace that part of the Jets. It’s not just entertainment. It’s an integral part of the community that helps a lot of people.”
The Jets saw a significant increase in attendance last season, setting a 5-year high of 22,000 fans over 30 regular season and postseason games, with two crowds breaking the 1,000 mark. “Big Red,” who popularized a now staple “Sweet Caroline” second intermission sing-along, sees opportunity for even more growth.
“Honestly, I would rather watch Jets hockey than watch college hockey, to be completely honest with you,” he said. “If you watch these guys, and if you understand the commitment they make, leaving behind their friends, families, and lives from all over the country, all over the world, you appreciate that they come to Janesville, Wisconsin, to bust their butts to make it to the next level. That’s a great thing to watch. Once you see a Jets game, you’re hooked. I know a lot of people who weren’t hockey fans, but once I got them to go to a game, they were hooked.”
Contact the Janesville Jets’ front office at (608) 752-JETS, or go to www.janesvillejets.com for the regular season schedule, season ticket information, and sponsorship opportunities. Stay connected to the Jets through Facebook (/janesvillehockey) and Twitter (@JanesvilleJets1).
— JANESVILLE JETS —