Long-time PA announcer Dan Smith and Long Beach State decided to part ways before the upcoming 2021 to 2022 collegiate sports season after a disagreement over the university’s decision to rebrand from “The 49ers” to “The Beach.”
“Since [LBSU] made the decision to call themselves ‘The Beach’ and not the 49ers, I’ve taken issue with that,” said Smith, who called games for LBSU for 35 years. “I don’t say ‘Point Beach’ during volleyball matches, I say ‘Point Long Beach,’I mean I deliberately don’t call them ‘Beach’ because I think it’s silly.”
Smith’s career started at LBSU in 1985 after former volleyball PA announcer Steve Janisch informed the school he would be unavailable that season.
While both sides agreed to part ways, Smith felt there was some mishandling of the situation by the university who has not had the best relationship with former employees and alumni, he said.
“It just seems that athletics over the last 10 to 15 years really [has] not respected [and] acknowledged their alumni,” Smith said. “Some of the great teams from the past and the history that they’ve had, there’s just so much [that has] been kind of just tossed by the wayside, which is really unfortunate.”
Brian Yankelevitz, who was a part of the LBSU basketball program from 1994 to 1997 agrees. He said that while relationships with his former teammates are great to this day, the relationship between them and the men’s basketball program is nonexistent.
And when Yankelevitz, who called Smith “The Voice,” heard he would no longer be calling LBSU games, it was “disheartening.”
“Dan is the one constant for us when we go back,” Yankelevitz said. “A lot of things have changed on campus but you know when you still hear his voice it kind of brings you back to when you scored a basket, he’s saying your name or if you’re in the starting lineup and he’s announcing your number and your height, where you’re from, it’s special.”
The athletic program’s decision to move on came as a surprise to Smith but there has been a disagreement in terminology being used during volleyball matches for several years now.
Sean Ferrera, senior associate athletics director/external relations, said the decision stems from understanding what the teams at LBSU need.
“We thank Dan for his service and time to Long Beach State Athletics,” Ferrera said. “He’s done a great job as a PA. I think it’s time for us to move forward and try to find a new piece in our PA space.”
LBSU’s athletic program will have a recruitment process and try new PAs while having other in-house options, Ferrera said.
In addition to being the voice of LBSU sports, handling PA duties for baseball, softball, water polo and soccer, Smith is a recognized name across Southern California sports. He has worked the Area Code baseball games when they came to Blair Field followed by the Big West basketball tournament the last 20 years and CIF basketball the last six.
“As a PA announcer you’re supposed to be professional, and you’re supposed to not swear, not be a cheerleader, not call people names, and not call people stupid names for sure,” Smith said. “The irony here is, I’m getting let go because I refuse to call a team by name that I think is stupid.”
After his career at LBSU, Smith plans to be the PA announcer at volleyball and basketball games for Cal State Fullerton.
“I know that he will do great wherever he goes and he is a guy that makes the best out of any situation,” said Melissa Walker, a former Long Beach State Women’s volleyball alumni who was part of the first women’s volleyball team to go undefeated in NCAA Division l history in 1998.