After a brief hiatus, the voice of the Independence Community College Pirates returns to the mic. Jeff Carpenter is back where he belongs. With his undeniable voice, quick wit and being a devout statistician, he is often as exciting to listen to as the play on the field is to watch.

Carpenter has covered the Pirates for 13 years on the radio but for the past few years his voice has been silent. "I decided to take a temporary retirement from radio announcing. I actually did it because at the time, the radio station was having a hard time attracting sponsors for the broadcast and it gave me a chance to turn over Independence High School Bulldog Football to my son Caine, which we did together for several years. I knew he was more than capable to take over the broadcast— as he has. He's done an amazing job of it," said Carpenter. 

Even though he loved broadcasting the games, he felt it was time to take a break from what he called his hobby because of the time it was taking to do the Bulldogs games Friday nights and the Pirates games Saturday. 

"It was time for me to step back and take a reprieve," he added. Even though he walked away from his passion for broadcasting the games, in the back of his mind he wondered, like an athlete does, if he could still do it again. 

It was the winter of 2016 when Tammy Geldenhuys, ICC athletic director, contacted Carpenter and asked him if he would be willing to come back and broadcast the Pirate Football games. He didn't say yes immediately. "I told her I was interested but I wanted some time to think about it," said Carpenter. After several conversations, he felt it was time to get back into the thing he loved doing and that was broadcasting Pirate Football. 

"I was ready to come back. I hope people enjoy what I do because it's entertainment. That's what I want to provide. It's about painting the picture and I want it to be authentic and I want the listeners to feel as if they are sitting there at the game even though they are in their living rooms," said Carpenter.

In 1978, Carpenter had his chance to play Pirate Football. "I received a scholarship from ICC to play football the year after they went to the Wool Bowl and myself and four others were recruited from the IHS Bulldogs. I had received several other offers to play elsewhere but it just felt right to stay here and play for ICC," he said.

Before he ever had a chance to play for the Pirates, Carpenter suffered a head injury that ended his college football career.

"The fact is, the reason I'm so passionate about the Pirates comes down to we have 'Last Chance U' here and it is all about a last chance for some of these guys, this is their proving ground and as I look back, that scholarship was my last chance to really prove myself to play for the Pirates. It never came to fruition," said Carpenter. "Through my experience I kind of tie into what these guys are going through." 

Being born and raised in Independence, he knows the history and the many years of struggle for the Pirate Football. "For many years we were the 'door mats' of the Jayhawk conference. I understand that because most of my high school years with the Bulldogs we were not successful and that gives me another bond with the Pirates and what they have gone through for so many years," Carpenter said.

"Now the Pirates are on the threshold of potential greatness. This is uncharted waters for Pirate Football, not only for the team but for the fans, community and the nation. The country has always known we have had great basketball teams over the years, but now we have that in football and it's great to be a part of it," said Carpenter.

Carpenter said nothing is scripted when he gets behind the radio mic. "It never has been and never will be. It goes back in my school days when I had difficulty reading and I not only struggled to read out loud but I couldn't comprehend what I was reading and retain what I read. Everything I learned was through my ears. That is how radio became a passion of mine because I would listen to the radio all the time and I could use my imagination and if I heard it, I would remember it," he said.

One of his greatest admirers is Geldenhuys. When she couldn't make the trip to watch the Pirates play she would listen to Carpenter announce the games. 

"She told me, the thing she admired about my announcing is that I am always upbeat during the games. I always find the silver lining no matter the outcome and the way I told how the game was going. Even when the games were going against us she would tell me I made it sound as if the Pirates still had a chance to win" Carpenter recalled.

"If I can do that with my voice and the way I tell the story, then I feel I have done my job and that makes me feel like I am part of the Pirate's tradition and history," he concluded.