Voice of late Burlington Central PA announcer Mark Einwich continues to resonate
Can you still hear Mark Einwich's voice?
Burlington Central High School athletes and coaches, past and present, and spectators at Rockets football and basketball games since 1986 certainly can.
The longtime PA announcer had the pipes that shook BC's goal posts in the fall and chipped paint off the walls inside the school's gym in the winter.
"Three-point field gooooooooooooooal, (insert name of a BC sharpshooter here)!"
"You could hear his touchdown call 10 miles away," said former Burlington Central Athletic Director and current Rich Township AD Steve Diversey. "Mark's voice was booming, the best, highly professional. And big-time. I'd put it next to any national-level voice. You'd hear Mark call a game for the first time and you'd immediately think, 'Wow.'
"You could not," he added, "find a better high school PA announcer than Mark, anywhere."
Mark R. Einwich -- a 1986 Burlington Central graduate, a St. Charles resident, a proud and consummate firefighter for life, a father of six and THE voice of BCHS athletics for as long as he was a firefighter -- died on March 7 after a battle with cancer.
He was 55.
"He was larger than life, figuratively and literally, and one of the nicest guys," said former Daily Herald High School Sports Editor John Radtke, a fourth cousin of Einwich. "Student-athletes loved him, just loved him. And his voice -- it matched his physical stature."
In 2001, 9/11 forced the postponements of Illinois prep football games scheduled for Sept. 14. The following weekend, with the U.S. still reeling from the attacks, people of all ages sought a diversion, a comfort zone.
"I needed football," Radtke, a 1975 BCHS graduate, recalled. "I needed to watch football at Burlington Central."
Einwich welcomed cousin John and the rest of the crowd on Sept. 21 with something soothing and priceless: familiarity.
"There was silence before kickoff, complete silence, and then Mark said a few things about 9/11 before introducing Lee Greenwood's song 'I'm Proud to be an American,'" Radtke said. "Think about how Mark, a fireman, must have felt after 9/11. But his voice that night was steady and forceful, like it always was; it never cracked, never wavered.
"People," he continued, "needed to hear Mark's voice that night."
Einwich served as a fireman for the Pingree Grove Fire Department for several years, beginning in 1986, before joining the Geneva Fire Department in 1992 and eventually earning the post of deputy fire chief there. He also was a volunteer fireman for the Burlington Fire Department from 1992-2023, a paramedic, and a voice for the Kane County Dispatch (fire and police) from 1988-1993.
"My dad, the firefighter, made total sense because he was selfless and dedicated to helping others," said daughter Maddie Einwich, a 2020 St. Charles East graduate. "To me, each time I saw him, he represented ... 'home.' He made people feel right at home wherever he was. People felt comfortable around him because he was so easy to talk to and approachable.
"You could say his family -- and I'm not just talking about my family -- was gigantic," she added. "He reached a point in his time as an announcer where he considered everybody in the Burlington Central community to be a member of his family. Imagine how high that number was."
For years, Diversey, BC's AD from 2012-2022, wanted to induct Einwich into the Burlington Central High School Athletic Hall of Fame (Friend of Athletics category). But each time Diversey shared his plan with Einwich, THE voice would veto it.
Diversey -- without having given Einwich a heads up -- went ahead and honored Einwich at the BCHS Hall of Fame ceremony held at Elgin Community College.
"I had to blindside him," Diversey said. "Mark had no idea he'd be celebrated on that date. Humble, such a humble guy. He definitely deserved the induction. From an AD standpoint, an outstanding PA announcer like Mark, a steady emcee at a school's event, is an important piece. Knowing Mark would be our voice for a game always calmed me. I never had to worry about anything with him around."
When Einwich, whose heart was about the size of a village's water tank, shook your hand you still felt it three days later, sometimes four. People often got lost in the former BC football center's lung-puncturing bear hugs.
On her 40th birthday, former BC girls basketball player Cindy Hilbrich (BCHS, Class of '97) received a picture of the Rockets' scorebook page from her Senior Night game.
The gift giver?
Mark Einwich, no surprise, the man who pocketed exactly $0 in more than 30 years behind the mic at BC.
Speaking of hoops scorebooks, it was estimated that Einwich had witnessed and called more than a combined 20,000 points scored by male and female Rockets at home games.
Burlington Central boys track and field coach and Social Studies Department Chair Mike Schmidt (BCHS, Class of '87) coached girls basketball at his alma mater in the late 1990s. His daughter Kathryn set BC's all-time career scoring record in her senior season.
"Mark," Mike Schmidt said, "became a fan and a treasured friend of hers, and he made her feel so special when he announced she had broken the record to the crowd. And Mark was the first to congratulate my daughter after the game.
"Mark," he added, "bled Central blue. Announcing starting lineups became an anticipated part of the show at games. Games, and life, won't be the same without him, but so many of our shared memories of great events on Rocket Hill are better because of him."
Brett Porto enjoyed the "Mark Einwich Treatment" as an athlete and as a coach. Porto (BCHS, Class of '03) suited up as a quarterback and as a basketball guard and just completed his 14th season as the Rockets' varsity boys basketball coach.
"Mark cared so much about every player," Porto said. "And each player loved hearing him yell out their name the way he did at games. I can't tell you how many times I kept hearing Mark's voice in my head well after our home games, beginning with my drive home. His basketball calls, as well as his football calls, were iconic."
But his everyday voice also moved people. Einwich worked with former Burlington Fire Chief Greg Partch (BCHS, Class of '75) when the pair served the Pingree Grove Fire Department from 1986-89. One day last year, while they sat and talked with other volunteers at the Burlington fire station, Partch, now a truck driver, discussed his late wife, Shannon, who had succumbed to cancer.
Partch struggled to finish thoughts, his eyes welling up. His voice started to crack.
Partch then felt someone's arm cover his shoulders.
It was one of Einwich's massive wings.
"This was shortly after Mark had been diagnosed with cancer," Partch said. "You know what he said to me? He said, 'Don't you worry. We'll get through this.'"
Mark's survivors, in addition to Maddie, include his wife, Angie; children Carolyn Thompson, Lizzie Stallman, Rhett, Caden and Wyatt; and his parents, Otto and Judy.
Funeral arrangements are pending but will be available at https://conleycare.com/mark-r-einwich/.