Everyone who attends a UCF football game has heard the public address announcer proclaim: "That's good for another UCF first down."
But not many know the man behind the words — Erik Kohler.
“It’s just so cool for me to have institutional history,” Kohler said. “When I first got here, which was our first season of Division I football, was when the rise of the program took off.”
Kohler has been working with UCF Athletics for almost 20 years as the PA announcer for both football and men’s basketball.
He started as the PA announcer for UCF baseball in 2000. One year later, he was offered the job with football and men’s basketball after the previous announcer retired.
"Kohler has provided the voice for UCF football and basketball for almost two decades now," UCF Associate Athletic Director of Brand Advancement Jimmy Skiles said. "It's important for the game day experience to have a consistent, iconic voice."
Since then, Kohler has announced every football game since 2001, including a 2014 matchup between UCF and Penn State in Dublin and the annual Battle 4 Atlantis men's basketball tournament in the Bahamas.
Kohler was raised in Bloomington, Indiana, and was an Indiana state swim champion in high school. He also attended Ole Miss for two and a half years prior to attending UCF from 1996 to 1998, where he pursued a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
Aside from being an announcer, he owns his own mortgage business, Kohler Mortgage. He is married, has two sons and runs his own radio program, EK Sports, on FM 96.9 in Orlando.
Kohler has announced spring training baseball with both the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros for ESPN3. He will also be the Orlando Predators' announcer when the team returns to Amway Center this year in the National Arena League.
When he was getting started as an announcer, Kohler said he looked up to fellow broadcasters Al Michaels and the late Keith Jackson. He got his start with WUCF, UCF's jazz radio station, and by doing play-by-play and color commentary for football and basketball.
Kohler said he has adapted his announcing to fit the speed of UCF football’s offense during play.
“You got to be able to be quick and adapt in a situation,” he said. “You got to kind of read where you need to be. What taught me that was waiting tables.”
Kohler waited tables at Applebee's while attending UCF. He said that the motto of his career has been "finding a way," and he has developed an ability to adapt and grow beyond the role of PA announcing.
"I'm more than a PA announcer," he said. "I'm not discounting the role I bring, but I've done TV, I've done radio and I think in some circles, people just have me boxed in that [PA] role when I can do so much more."
Kohler's first down call started to take off when Bright House Networks Stadium, now called Spectrum Stadium, opened in 2007. He first started toying with the idea back in 2002 when UCF played on the road at Arizona State.
The first down call isn't the only call Kohler originated for UCF. He also came up with the recognizable third down call, which has fans in attendance proudly raise three fingers to cheer on the team ahead of crucial third downs.
“I noticed this same kind of group of guys that would sit below me at the Citrus Bowl,” he said. “I started flirting around with enunciation of the third down call and I started noticing that the louder I got, they would put the beers down and start making noise or banging on things.”
Kohler said his plans for the future involve a continued affiliation with university athletics.
“I guess I’m really proud of the fact that I’ve stayed in the right place,” he said, “I know I’ve made the right decision to be here.”
Correction: During the editing process, an error was introduced into this article stating that Erik Kohler started announcing every football game in 2010. Kohler began announcing every football game in 2001, and the article has been updated to reflect that.