Wade Minter made improbable journey from Section 328 to ice level as Carolina Hurricanes public address announcer
If you had told 15-year-old H. Wade Minter that he would one day become an avid hockey fan and passionate player, his resulting facial expression may have been that of confusion. If you added that he would also eventually reside as the public address announcer for a professional hockey team, that look would have likely changed to utter bewilderment.
Despite hailing from a small town in Virginia – not exactly a hockey hotbed – and not learning to skate until after graduating college, today Minter is a full blown hockey fanatic.
While he works as a product manager for SportsEngine (a Minneapolis-based youth sports software company with hockey roots) by day, 43 nights a year he wields a microphone as the Carolina Hurricanes PA announcer.
It’s a dream job this Canes superfan attained thanks to the old parental adage, “It never hurts to ask.”
Growing up in rural Virginia, Minter initially viewed hockey as somewhat of a curiosity. It wasn’t until his move to Raleigh in 1999 that his passion for the sport was cultivated.
“I grew up in the middle of tobacco country in Virginia, so hockey wasn’t really a thing,” the voice of the Hurricanes said. “I would occasionally see a game on ESPN, but I had no idea what was going on. By the time the 1999-2000 season rolled around, there was some buzz in town about the Canes, so I went to the first game against the Devils and really enjoyed it.”
Coinciding with Minter’s newfound interest for hockey was his involvement in comedic improvisation. Previously a dramatic prose reader in junior high and high school and someone who had lightly dabbled in improvisation, Minter enrolled in workshops at ComedySportz (now ComedyWorx). He was eventually asked by the instructors to join their improv group.
From 2000-2008, Minter served as a regular in the ComedyWorx group and usually played the character of “Mr. Voice” in a show reminiscent of Drew Carey’s Whose Line Is It Anyway? Minter’s character was responsible for providing music, sound effects, announcements and all other technical aspects of the show – skills that would eventually benefit him in the pursuit of his current position in Carolina.
The bonds created through the improvisation group at ComedyWorx weren’t limited to the confines of the facility. Instead, through their mutual interest in sports, the improv teammates formed a Carolina Hurricanes superfan group located in Section 328 of PNC arena. Known for bringing the noise and an active social media presence, Canes games became a great place for Minter to cultivate his hockey knowledge and further his affection for the game. Today, the group remains strong and has added a blog with six active writers and a podcast that airs every week during the hockey season.
“I would say [Wade] was never one of the louder ones in our section because we have a couple of leather lungs,” longtime friend and Section 328 member Derek Roessler said. “He was certainly always very into the games and loved the sport as much as the camaraderie and all of the revelry our section brought to the game.”
Name: H. Wade Minter | Age: 41
Resides in: Raleigh, North Carolina
Family: Wife, Holly, and daughters Hayley (14) and Kate (10)
Jobs: Product manager, Team & Mobile Products, SportsEngine; Public address announcer, Carolina Hurricanes
Interests: Beer-league hockey, ring announcing for GOUGE professional wrestling association, PA announcing for the North Carolina State club hockey team
After graduating from William and & Mary with a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 1997, Minter moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, where he currently resides. He has held a variety of technology related positions and has pursued a side career in public-address announcing, which he began in 2012 for the GOUGE Wrestling association. Minter developed many of the requisite skills that he displays while on the microhone through improvisation comedy, a hobby he picked up in 1999 at ComedyWorx in Raleigh. After cultivating a passion for hockey that coincided with the arrival of the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, Minter eventually took his PA talents to the ice. He started announcing for the North Carolina State Wolfpack club hockey team in 2014 and secured the same position with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2015. Recently, Minter accepted a job at SportsEngine as a product manager. He currently balances SportsEngine obligations and travel with Hurricanes home games. When he’s not at the PNC arena or the office, Minter enjoys spending time with his family. He also is a die-hard beer-league hockey player, still dabbles in improvisation and he continues to announce for GOUGE and the NC State Wolfpack.
Q: What does the "H" stand for in your name?
A: The “H” stands for lots of things (It actually stands for “Haynie”, my maternal grandfather’s first name. Very common in the rural Virginia area where I grew up, not common anywhere else. Likely you can see now why I go by my middle name.)
Q: What’s with your obsession with Avicii Cat?
A: Avicii Cat is random and weird. I, also, am random and weird.
Q: Who is your favorite all-time NHL player and why?
A: That’s a tough one. I’ll probably have to go with Rod Brind’Amour, whose work ethic and quiet leadership were inspiring, and who captained the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup in 2006.
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Eventually, hockey became a family affair for Minter. Following his current wife’s move to Raleigh, he shared his newfound passion.
“Her level of hockey knowledge was about where mine was,” Minter said. “But I took her to about five games and she was hooked. From that point forward we were regular attendees.”
The couple’s shared interest then led to a yearning for Minter to extend his hockey fandom from spectatorship to actually learning how to play the game. Following skating lessons taken by he and his wife, which according to the beer league regular included a plethora of falling, Minter received what he describes as one of the best gifts he’s ever been given.
“For the first Father’s Day after my first daughter was born, my present was a hockey bag,” Minter said. “My wife said, ‘You like hockey so much, go fill it up with gear and I want you to take learn to play hockey lessons.’”
Yet still, even after his Canes fanhood and love for hockey had been thoroughly established on and off the ice, no signs yet pointed to Minter eventually landing his dream job.
[HIGHLIGHT] #Canes PA announcer @minter scored a goal in the #CanesAlumni Game, then took the mic to do his job.https://t.co/TjhI3i27vA
— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) February 14, 2016
Wade Minter announces his goal after scoring during a Carolina Hurricanes alumni game.
Grabbing the mic
After returning to the Raleigh area following a two-year stint in Texas from 2008-2010, a new opportunity emerged in 2014. Minter received his first hockey public address announcing job for the North Carolina State club hockey team after reading a post on Twitter – a site frequented by the former computer science major.
Following the 2014-15 season in which Minter announced all of the home games for the Wolfpack, a new opportunity emerged when longtime Hurricanes PA announcer Brian Hoyle stepped down from the position.
“I went to the first preseason game of the 2015-16 season and was like, ‘Hey that’s a different PA guy, that’s not Brian Hoyle,’ ” Minter said. “So, I came home and emailed the team. I asked if the team was doing announcer tryouts and, if so, that I wanted in.”
Although the Hurricanes were technically done offering auditions, Chris Greenley, the Director of CanesVison, said they hadn’t yet found a proper replacement and decided to give Wade a try.
“I’ll be honest, I wasn’t enthusiastic about where we were,” Greenlay said. “Wade emailed us out of the blue, and he turned out to be just the guy we were looking for … he knows the sport inside and out, and the fact that he is very passionate about the team itself adds to it. He’s a total pro.”
After his initial tryout, Minter was awarded the microphone at the subsequent Hurricanes preseason game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Instead of telling all of his friends in Section 328, Minter revealed the scenario only to his wife and daughters saying, “I want you guys to be there, you may never see this again.”
Though his first gig with the team went smoothly and Minter was offered the job the following Monday, due to the difference in his announcing and speaking voice, his friends and former improv teammates had no idea their peer was announcing that night.
In fact, they unknowingly complimented their friend and asked for the team to bring him back – unbiased proof of Minter’s talent.
“We let the team know [via Twitter] that we didn’t love the first person they brought in to try out, so we were going into the second preseason game with low expectations,” Roessler said. “Although we had no idea it was Wade, we made sure to tweet to the team that we liked this new PA announcer … then we found out days later that they hired Wade,‘Holy Hell that was Wade.’ He did a fantastic job that night.”
The new voice of the Canes
Since being hired by the Hurricanes 20 months ago, Minter has cherished every moment on the job. Although the team has narrowly missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons – a disappointment to the super fan within him, Minter looks back fondly on the journey from simply learning the game, to being present for the team’s 2006 Stanley Cup victory, to now owning a seat at ice level between each teams’ penalty boxes.
“It’s as cool as you would think it is and then some,” he said. “I sat in the cheap seats for years, and now I’m center ice on the glass. Having been a fan of the team through its ups and downs through the last 20 years, I like to think that people enjoy the work I do because I’m a fan just like them. I just happen to have a microphone to make my fandom even louder.”
Got a little surprise TV time last night, along with a birthday shout-out to @doctorwho_tardis_fan!
A post shared by H. Wade Minter (@hwademinter) on Jan 23, 2016 at 8:08am PST
Aside from his quick wit, comedic sense of humor and ability to ad-lib, Greenlay cites Minter’s and the fans’ commonalities as a key reason for why he has been so quickly embraced by the Hurricanes community. This mutual bond between Minter and the fans was evident during the 2016 Hurricanes alumni game as Minter got to play alongside the Hurricanes’ Stanley Cup champions that he idolized 10 years prior.
After depositing a pass from Canes legend Glen Wesley into the back of the net, Minter returned to his improvisation days and went off script as he skated over to the booth and announced his own name to the crowd.
“That was one of my favorite moments since I’ve been working for the Hurricanes,” Greenlay said. “He did not tell anyone he was going to announce his name. The place went bananas because everyone knows and loves Wade. That’s the beauty of sports entertainment, you get those magic moments where a guy can fulfill a dream of scoring a goal with NHL players and then announce it.”
Putting on my Dad hat, I told my daughters, ‘Girls, do you know why I got this job? I got this job because I asked.’ ’’
- Wade Minter, Carolina Hurricanes public address announcer
Now entering his third season with the Hurricanes, Minter has worked to balance his obligations between the team and SportsEngine. He lives in Raleigh, but he usually travels to Minneapolis once a month for a period of three to five days.
Just roughly a year into his tenure at SportsEngine, Minter’s fellow employees have already taken a liking to the same traits that have gotten him far in Carolina. They commonly ask questions regarding his duties with the professional club.
“First and foremost, working with Wade is fun,” SportsEngine colleague Rachelle Barnes said. “He has a funny wit about him in the interaction I have with him day to day. The thing I like most about Wade is that he is really down to Earth and really understands what is going on out in the team space regarding parents, kids, athletes and coaches.”
Looking forward, Minter is excited at the prospect of opportunities in both Minneapolis and Raleigh. He’s optimistic about the Hurricanes’ return to the postseason and hopeful that one day his voice will be associated with the resurgence of the team.
When he looks back on his circuitous route to hockey fandom and the serendipity that partially led to his acquisition of his dream job, he points to one lasting life lesson.
“Putting on my Dad hat, I told my daughters, ‘Girls do you know why I got this job? I got this job because I asked.’ This just happened to be the time the stars aligned. If I hadn’t come home after that preseason game and dropped [the Hurricanes] an email, none of the rest of this would have happened.”
Editor's note: The photo of Minter with microphone in hand at the top of the page was provided courtesy of Jamie Kellner, Canes Country Editor, Phoblographer and Community Manager