By Brenna Eller
Opinion Page Editor
Mitch Holthus, the man who paints a picture with his words as “The Voice of the Kansas City Chiefs”, spoke at the first Dillon Lecture Series of the Hutchinson Community College 2018 spring semester on Tuesday at the Sports Arena.
In his speech, “Success in Being Different”, he used several examples of being different in a giving manner.
Mitch Holthus is a Smith Center native and still gives on-air and Twitter shoutouts every now and then to the Redmen. He and his wife, Tami, who is from McPherson, both graduated from Kansas State. She played basketball and later became the assistant coach for their daughter’s basketball team at Silver Lake, which won a state championship in the Sports Arena.
Along with announcing Chiefs and ESPN games, Mitch Holthus also does some things to help others. When Joplin, Missouri was devastated by a tornado, he helped provide water for the community. He also helps people within his job.
A blind man, Cameron Black, one of many affected by Mitch Holthus and his ability to speak a portrait, learned to love football because of Holthus. As shown in a video from The Kansas City Star, Holthus has made a huge impact in the man’s life because Black’s daughter, who has the same disease, also listens to the Chiefs’ games.
After seeing the video for the first time, Holthus said, “It stopped me in my tracks. If I mean everything to Cameron, if I can paint a picture verbally to someone who can’t see, I am helping someone by being different.”
Holthus also mentioned and introduced three HutchCC students in the crowd – Tyler Pauley from Garden Plain, Jeff Brandon from Hutchinson, and Ashton Hawkins from Smith Center, who all have done extraordinary things at this college, and work hard in and outside of school.
At the press conference before the event, Holthus answered questions regarding his career as a well-known sports announcer. One question that was asked pertained to a possible downfall in NFL fans in the last few years. He answered that it was a good question and that it “seems” to be a decline to some, but said that people don’t see everything with the NFL, only what is covered by reporters.
He pointed out the national anthem protests becoming a popular look on the league, but also explained that people don’t see the “behind-the scenes” action of players. Some, like Alex Smith, do remarkable things outside of the Chiefs. Smith helps foster kids earn college scholarships and donates to their organization.
Because he witnesses generous acts with the Chiefs and throughout Kansas, Mitch Holthus has a soft spot for the people and the state itself.
“I love this state, I made three career moves, yet still remained here in Kansas,” Holthus said.
He said how honored he was to speak at the Sports Arena and to share his experiences. Being from Smith Center has taught him how to be the man he is today and he seeks to find others who are different with success.
“To take the game beyond the game, it then becomes a celebration for anyone,” Holthus said.
One question that stood out to him was asked by a high school student from Inman. She asked about his love for announcing and how he became who he is today.
“Who you are and how you were raised makes you original,” Holthus said. “We all come from different home lives, but work ethic is a huge part of making an impression too.”
He stated several times that to be a good journalist, work ethic is important, but being a journalist also comes with great sacrifices. He has had to manage a family alongside his career, and although he loves what he does, Holthus expressed regrets for the moments he has missed, such as his daughter Hayley’s championship game. Brian, his son, had always dreamed of running on the Sports Arena court like his sister had. That never happened because his team never got to state.
During the lecture, Holthus presented a slideshow of the steps of differences that lead to success. Throughout his speech, he used a metaphor of floodwaters, such as the Arkansas River, or Gulf of Mexico flooding lives and trying to slow people down from reaching their ultimate goals. He explained “Empathetic Equity” – Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
The example he used for this was one of his favorite Chiefs, Derrick Johnson, who has funded about 15 reading dens in Kansas City and does things without expecting a reward, only from the kindness of his heart. In the summer last year, Johnson spent a lot of time practicing football with a younger player who hadn’t even made it through tryouts. Holthus noticed this and thought it was generous and showed him the kind of man Johnson is aside from football.
There were many more examples and topics. One of the last differences, “Being Different by Standing Firm”, was to show that people have to work for their success and shouldn’t run from their responsibilities.
“My job is to stand the post when it’s good or bad,” Holthus said. “Many times it isn’t easy, but you still stand the post like a marine in front of the embassy.”
Finishing with the last difference where Holthus discovered his relative, who was a poor European man that moved to Nebraska and joined the Union in the Civil War. He stood shoulder to shoulder with the black men in the blue uniforms. It was a major step in the American culture, and Holthus said he was proud to be related to the man that didn’t look down upon the African American men fighting by his side.
This thought led to his final statement that we will all leave marks on the world, but “what footprints will we leave?”