An outsider looking in at the city of Gainesville will see a population enthralled with Florida Gator Sports. This is not a wrong assumption but, they are missing something very vital, high school sports.
Towns around the Gainesville community close down on Friday nights for high school football, or weeknights for rivalry basketball games. No man knows these rivalries better than Mike Ridaught. Mike Ridaught is the voice of high school sports here in Gainesville, and this is his story.
Mike Ridaught attended the University of North Florida. While attending school there, Mike was still unsure of what he wanted to do after college. He pursued the opportunity to become the radio announcer for the UNF baseball team. Mike was unable to call games on the radio the first year. Instead, Mike was able to get his start being the Public Adress Announcer for UNF Baseball. The next season rolled around and Mike was splitting time doing the radio call for the UNF Baseball team. That season the UNF Ospreys were invited to the NAIA college world series, and so was Mike Ridaught. Through his experience calling UNF baseball at the NAIA College World Series, Mike was given the opportunity to call high school sports around his college in Jacksonville.
Move To Gainesville
After his time in college, Mike Ridaught moved to the city of Gainesville, with the tools to start his own business. Mike was able to use these tools along with the passion and fire of the Gainesville community for high school sports to start theprepzone.com. Mike initially started theprepzone.com to build is play by play and writing resume, but he quickly realized the potential of the business and began to work with it full time.
Gainesville is a unique place to cover high school sports. With such a big college in the area, high school sports will almost always take a back seat. But this does not mean there is not a strong community that is passionate about their high school sports. Although Gainesville is a smaller market encapsulated by Gator sports, it is still a location that high school sports can have a major impact. Dealing with a smaller market like Gainesville has its benefits. The smaller market breeds a culture of a community, as well as a rivalry between many of the teams in our area.
— LaDarius LD Flagg (@LD_PRIMETIME21) October 29, 2016
Due to the smaller population, many of the communities and teams know each other on a more personal level, this is a major difference than some of the bigger markets such as Jacksonville.
Importance to Community
To a small community like Gainesville events that bring the town together are important. Gainesville is a town that loves to consume their sports. This is the service that Mike and the Prepzone provides.
— The Prep Zone (@ThePrepZone) November 28, 2016
Through the many communication outlets, there are different ways for schools and players to gain attention. From the game of the week, that is broadcasted on the radio. Or schools such as Oak Hall who have all their home football games live streamed on the Prepzone website. The Prepzone gives fans, and parents a way to recognize the young great athletes in our community.
Sports are unpredictable, that is one of the greatest draws to them. Calling sports is even more unpredictable. One of the best parts about working in the sports field is you often see something new. This keeps the job fresh and exciting. From buzzer beaters, last-second touchdowns, and shootouts, sports are exciting. No matter if there is a nine-hour baseball game, or it’s nearly freezing in the booth Mike is there calling the game for the fans.
— Florida HS Football (@FlaHSFootball) September 9, 2016
These are the times Mike remembers most about calling games, not the moments but the experience. If you want to hear more about Mike and his work here in our area you can listen to our full conversation here.