For twenty-nine years, Professor John Smithson taught engineering at Ventura College. For over fourteen of those years, John was the public address announcer for Pirate football and basketball. There has seldom been an announcer who prepared for each game or took more pride in his work than did John Smithson. His voice was golden and his legacy as the voice of the Pirates was exceptional.
Alongside his wife Patsy, who served as his spotter during Pirate football games, John's exceptional voice and his unique ability to report the ongoing action of each sporting event was superb. Soon to become the standard-bearer for Ventura College Athletics, John Smithson served faithfully until shortly before his retirement in 1985. As his son Jim recalls, with hand across his heart and using his exceptional tenor voice, his dad loved to sing the national anthem at the beginning of each and every game, with the public address system in the "on" position, for all to hear.
John Smithson, however, was far more than just the voice of the Pirates. He served as a mentor and supporter of all V.C. athletes, often providing his time and talent to help struggling student athletes with their academic endeavors. As a professor of engineering and a department chair. John Smithson was there to provide whatever was needed. While history will note that John was the first highly talented voice of the Pirates, it must be footnoted that at least a portion of his success was due to the undying support of his wife Patsy. The Smithson family seldom missed a contest and John thoroughly enjoyed his familiarity with hundreds of Pirate athletes throughout his entire career with wife Patsy and son Jim at his side.
John was meticulous in the way he handled his duties as an announcer. He would never anticipate the ruling of an official. He would always wait patiently until the penalty or foul was signaled before he would announce the call. He was always prepared, knew the names of Pirates and opponents alike and he thoroughly enjoyed his occasional banter with the spectators during a time-out or lull in the action.
After 29 years of dedicated service to the students and athletes at Ventura College, John Smithson finally put down his mike for the last time. Years later, John was often seen at morning coffees with other retired colleagues, was a regular at the annual retired men's barbecue in Arroyo Verde Park and seldom missed a Pirate football or basketball game. As a loving husband, father, grandfather, colleague and friend, John Smithson was a man with many talents who chose to share those talents and his love for the Pirates with a passion that was unrivaled. While other announcers have followed, John Smithson set the performance bar high and was proud to be a significant part of the black and orange "Tradition of Excellence."
On October 8, 2003 John Smithson died, but not before he left a lasting mark on the legacy of Ventura College Athletics.