From courtroom to press box, blind judge calling games again

Judge David Holton
Judge David Holton
Thomas Patteson and Judge David Holton
Thomas Patteson and Judge David Holton
Judge Holton's dog Buddy
Judge Holton's dog Buddy

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Jefferson District Judge David Holton is a familiar face around the Courthouse, but this season it's the judge's voice being heard at Western High football games.

Holton is experienced at calling games. He called games at Manual when his son Brooks played there. He wasn't ready to hang up the microphone so since Holton's wife works at Western High, he offered to work in the press box.

Many fans are surprised and impressed to find out, he's calling a game he can't see.

"I don't have any perspective of how things look, but I have a lot of perspective of how things sound," Holton said.

For Judge Holton, being effective in court means projecting properly, keeping your energy up and your temper down.

That's also true in sports.

Arriving early for every Western home game the first and currently only blind judge in Kentucky, Holton is likely the state's only blind public address announcer too.

The judge said when he was asked to call his first game, he knew who to call and what to say.

"I need somebody to be my eyes. Can you be my eyes?" Louisville attorney and friend Thomas Patteson said of the phone call from Holton, "I said what time and where do you want me to be?"

Holton's longtime companion and guide dog Buddy aren't the only one who travel with him.

Patteson stays by his side when needed.

"I'm basically a play by play guy in his ear," Patteson explained. Brilliantly seamless in his announcing, the crowd below has no idea that Holton has no view of the game.

"I can't see anything at all," Holton said, "I try to get across what I would need to know, if I were there in the stadium."

Holton played football as a boy until a tumor caused him to lose his sight. The press box is as close as he's been to the game since.

The toughest part? The pressure of getting it right just like his first years on the bench.

The judge said, "I knew there would be more scrutiny on me because I can't see."

Knowing he cares so much and gives it his best effort, makes his play by play partner pretty proud.

Patteson said, "It's satisfying to me when people down there don't know that there's a blind guy up here," he continued, " It means we are doing it right and it means we are getting it right, which is what's important to him."

By the way, Western won it's first game of the season 40 to 7 over Fairdale.

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