Remembering Wally Pryor, “The Voice of the Longhorns”

Photo Courtesy: Texas Athletics

AUSTIN, Texas, March 7. WALLY Pryor, beloved for years as a champion for aquatic sports in the state of Texas and “The Voice of the Longhorns,” died March 1 at 86 years old.

Pryor was best known as the announcer at several football and basketball games at the University of Texas, and also served in that capacity for meets held at the Texas Swimming Center for nearly four decades. He had a natural passion for swimming, competing as a Longhorn for Tex Robertson from 1948 to 1950. He was a part of two squads that won the Southwest Conference title and was inducted into the Texas Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame in 2010. Before falling into his longtime announcing career, he made an impact at Texas through producing his water carnivals shortly after his college athletic career ended.

Pryor was the guide through Texas swimming’s dominance in the Southwest Conference and eventual transfer to the Big 12 Conference. Though he would retire from announcing in 2002, he influenced those who followed him.

“I was fortunate to have had Wally as a role model for my own efforts to start announcing many years ago,” said Sam Kendricks, a Texas graduate who began his announcing career as a substitute for Pryor. “I will always be grateful to have learned from the best.”

Though the general public would remember Pryor most for his silky smooth Texas drawl floating over the air at various sporting events, he had a major behind-the-scenes impact on growing swimming in the state. He was one of the early founders of the extremely popular Texas Age Group Swimming championships and head coach of the Austin Aquatic Club, which would become Longhorn Aquatics.

In helping his alma mater become one of the top college swimming and diving teams in the country, he spearheaded the campaign to get what is now known as the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center built in the 1970s. When it opened in 1977, it was regarded as the top competition swimming facility in the United States.

“The first time I met Wally, he was grinning from ear to ear,” current Texas men’s swimming assistant coach Kris Kubik told Swimming World. “Every time I saw him thereafter, it seemed as if he was still wearing the same smile. He volunteered in every way possible to help our program grow and succeed — not just as an announcer for hundreds of meets, but also as one of the key leaders of our alumni group. He had a true gift for making the ever-present gleam in his eyes. Wally warmed the hearts of all who knew him.”

A memorial service is scheduled for 1 p.m. March 22 at the Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church, 7127 Bee Cave Road, in Austin. Memorials can be sent to the Darrell K. Royal Research Fund for Alzheimer’s Disease, PO Box 5839, Austin, Texas 76763.

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Author: Jeff Commings

Jeff Commings is the host of several shows on SwimmingWorld.TV, including "The Morning Swim Show," which features interviews with people making headlines in aquatic sports. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism and was a nine-time NCAA All-American.

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