Lexington High School PA announcer, play-by-play broadcaster celebrates 1,000 called games

Posted 3/20/24

If you attended any Lexington athletic event in the past 15 years, there is one thing you’ll notice remained consistent.

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Lexington High School PA announcer, play-by-play broadcaster celebrates 1,000 called games


If you attended any Lexington athletic event in the past 15 years, there is one thing you’ll notice remained consistent.

Blaring through the loudspeakers is the voice of Mark Zona. While some may not recognize him by name or face, his voice stands out as something any fan of the school has heard on many occasions.

Zona serves as the school athletics department’s main public address announcer and road play-by-play broadcaster. He has been the voice of Wildcat sports for 15 years and recently called his 1,000th Lexington game.

Being at Lexington for so long, Zona has witnessed some of the program’s most memorable moments.

“At Lexington, you have a chance to win whatever sport it is. It doesn’t matter,” Zona said. “The big stage means a lot because it brings more meaning to each game for the fans, for the student athletes, for the whole department.”

He remembers the 2015 football team’s upset over defending 4A champions Spartanburg in the playoff semifinals, the journey girls basketball coach Molly Goodrich and her team went on as they won five consecutive region titles and most recently, the boys basketball team’s two-season quest for a 5A state championship.

But through all the wins and success the school has seen, Zona takes pride in building an energetic environment out of the field of play and in the stands.

“Walking away, I know whether I had a good night or not. Most people can’t tell, but I know the little mistakes and things I make,” Zona said. “I’m thinking about the game, the night, the experience, the fans, the fans standing on their feet and clapping.”

Zona is usually locked in and successful at creating an atmosphere of energy and hype amongst fans, but he can only do so much. He needs a good game to build that environment or else the fans just won’t be interested.

Fortunately, that is not as big a problem at Lexington.

“If the game is the Mona Lisa, I’m just the frame on it,” Zona said. “I just sort of frame it up a little bit. They do all the work and create the excitement. I can only play off the excitement they create. And if there’s no excitement out there, that’s hard to do, and I’ve been to plenty of schools where there’s no excitement. That must be a difficult team to follow.”

As a graduate of Dayton, Zona earned a degree in radio and television broadcasting. After working a job as a rock-n-roll radio DJ in Ohio, Zona moved to Lexington County, became a Wildcats fan and found a way to relieve the itching he had to get back in the business.

Zona called his first game in 2009. He originally approached the school with new ideas on how to modernize their game audio, visuals and social media presence, and things took off from there.

“I’ve always had that kind of thing in my blood, wanting to get back to it,” Zona said. “Sports was the avenue that took me there.”

During his 15 years at Lexington, aside from calling games, Zona has run the team’s social media pages, written articles for the athletics website and oversaw the upgrading of new technology systems for gamedays.

When he’s not calling Lexington games, Zona is probably working his day job in medical sales, a field he has been in for years.

He has two children, both Lexington High graduates and out of the house. His son was from the class of 2013 and his daughter 2016. But even before they were students, Zona would take them out to Wildcats games.

“My son and I went to the 2000 state championship football game in Williams-Brice Stadium on a cold day against Dorman,” Zona said. “He was just a little guy then, so we were following Lexington football at that time because he was crazy about it and I was crazy about it, and we started following basketball and that’s what kind of kept me hooked in. …  It’s just addicting because good people, good fans, the students are great, the teams are so competitive, the facilities are wonderful and it’s just my sanctuary away from home.”

Zona also calls games for the South Carolina High School League and National Federation of State High School Associations broadcasts. These games do not count towards his 1,000+ total.

While 1,000 games is a lot, Zona feels he can repeat it. He has no plans of stepping aside anytime soon and is actively looking forward to the day he can retire and dedicate more time to the athletic department.

“I’ll do it as long as they’ll have me,” Zona said. “It’s the highlight of most of my days, … and someday I’ll retire and get to do a little more for them and for some of these other people that have freelance opportunities.”

If all goes to plan, Zona calls about 100 games a year, meaning that by this time next decade, he’ll be near or past his new goal.

“1,000 wasn’t meant to bring attention to me. It was just in my mind, it was a milestone,” Zona said. “Early this baseball season, one of the first games, there it was. And so, I hope to do a thousand more.” 

Lexington Athletics, Mark Zona


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