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‘Once a Rebel, always a Rebel’: Calvert reflects ahead of ceremony

The names on the banners hanging above the court at the Thomas & Mack Center read like a legendary UNLV roll call.

Larry Johnson. Robert Smith. Eddie Owens. Freddie Banks. Sidney Green. Reggie Theus. Glen Gondrezick. Stacey Augmon. Armon Gilliam. Ricky Sobers. Greg Anthony. Jerry Tarkanian.

They are titans of UNLV’s proud basketball history — a reminder of the team’s past glories and a standard of excellence future Rebels squads aspire to achieve.

Dick Calvert knows all of them, considers them personal friends. Now, he gets to join them in the rafters.

The school will raise a banner in Calvert’s honor during a halftime ceremony Saturday, when UNLV welcomes Colorado State to the Thomas & Mack Center. Tipoff is at 4 p.m.

For Calvert, the longest-tenured employee in UNLV athletics history, it’s an honor he never even imagined was possible.

“I enjoyed being behind the scenes,” Calvert said. “I never cared to be out in front of anything. My job was just to inform people in the stands, whether it be the football stadium, basketball arena or the baseball stadium, whatever it may be.”

After 52 years as UNLV’s game announcer, Calvert, 86, stepped aside during the summer of 2022, finally setting down the mic. He was inducted into the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame in 2010, and UNLV’s athletics hall of fame in 2017.

“His calls over the loudspeaker (are) something I remember, not only as a player but coming back and watching Runnin’ Rebels games,” UNLV basketball coach Kevin Kruger said. “Extremely proud and happy for him and his family that he’s going to get some well-deserved attention for putting up with us for as long as he did.”

Calvert held a variety of jobs since arriving at UNLV in 1971. He still remembers auditioning for associate athletic director Roger Barnson. Later, athletic director Bill Ireland asked Calvert if he’d ever called football games.

A longtime baseball fan who once dreamed of playing catcher in MLB, Calvert assured Ireland he had experience doing football before — which he now admits was a lie.

“I never did basketball before I did the audition,” Calvert said. “I’d never done football or any of that stuff.”

Aside from working as the game announcer, Calvert directed the radio broadcast until the early 2000s. Even though he’s retired from game announcing now, Calvert is still working for UNLV in other capacities, lending his voice to radio and TV ads and helping with other special projects. He has attended every home football game and all but one basketball game this season.

Calvert said he has plenty of people to thank for making his years with UNLV so enjoyable. His longest-tenured spotter, Carl Nickl, was a constant companion for around three decades, and Calvert said he is extremely excited for new UNLV game announcer Marques Pfaff, who was Calvert’s most recent spotter.

Calvert also said it’s particularly special to share the honor of the banner with Gondrezick, who was Calvert’s roommate on road trips while they were both working the radio broadcast. Calvert said he felt incredibly privileged to posthumously induct Gondrezick into the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame in 2022 with the former UNLV stars’ two sons.

Calvert’s final thank you was to UNLV fans, the “Rebel faithful,” as he calls them. He said he always felt a connection with the crowd and appreciated their patience when he tried different phrases or nicknames, and he still enjoys when people recognize him by the sound of his voice around Las Vegas.

“They’ve stuck by UNLV sports and athletics for a long time, as have I,” Calvert said. “Good or bad, once a Rebel, always a Rebel.”

Contact reporter Andy Yamashita at ayamashita@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ANYamashita on Twitter.

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