When you’re little, you always hold the broadcasters of your team in high regard. And when they retire or pass on, it almost feels like a little part of your childhood goes away. For me its Hawk Harrelson with the White Sox, Ed Farmer also with the White Sox or Pat Foley with the Blackhawks.
Until recently, I didn’t realize I felt that same way about another broadcaster, and that is none other than Jeff Jeffers. To me, his voice his synonymous with with fall Saturdays in South Bend.
Growing up in Michiana there was always one constant on the local news channels and that was “The Dean of Local Sports.” Jeffers was the sports director at WNDU-TV in South Bend for four decades. On Sunday morning he passed away at the young age of 64.
Some of my fondest memories as a kid were with my dad, watching Jeffers do the highlights of the Friday night high school games. Some other great memories were coming home after home ND games and watching the replay of the game on tape and catching Jeffers on WNDU’s “Countdown to Kickoff” pregame show. I also remember he used to be the emcee of Notre Dame baseball’s preseason kickoff dinner.
Jeffers loved Notre Dame and if you grew up or lived in the Michiana area for the last forty years, he went hand-in-hand with the Fighting Irish. He covered a countless number of games. Hosted numerous amounts of coaches shows. He hosted “Countdown to Kickoff” each Saturday in the fall for decades until recently when his health started to deteriorate. I said this before, but he was just synonymous with Notre Dame football. His love for Notre Dame was honored in 2006 when he received an honorary monogram from the university.
Jeffers was a staple in the Michiana sports scene. I never had the opportunity to meet him, but with all those years of reporting the news and covering the Irish, I feel like I almost knew him a little bit. I also attended high school with Jeffers’ son, Reilly, and have gotten to know him some over the years.
We here at One Foot Down send out our thoughts and prayers to Jeffers and his family. He was a Notre Dame icon and will surely be missed.