Niceville 🎙 Man Celebrates Four Decades With Eagle 🏈

If you’ve lived in Niceville for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard Robert Love’s voice – but you might not be able to place where. 

 

That is until you head to the Niceville Eagles home football game against Moseley on October 27th at 7:00pm. 

 

Robert is in his 42nd season as the public address announcer. He gives the play-by-play from his perch above the 50-yard-line. “First of all, its the best seat in the house,” Love says.

Getting the Job

Robert Love started life in Cottonwood, Alabama and played high school football in the Wiregrass area town. He started at quarterback and had some success locally, making the all-state team in 1957. He only learned he got the award from the Birmingham papers some 60 years later. The papers didn’t make it down to the area, so it was a happy surprise to him later in life. 

After graduating from Troy State University, Love began a teaching career that included stops at Lewis, Ruckel and ended with his appointment as the principal of Edge Elementary before he retired in 1997. 

Some of the teachers he hired are still at Edge – as is one of his granddaughters. 

He started as a PA announcer for the Lewis Falcons for a decade. During his time as the PA announcer in Valparaiso, he saw some of the Air Force’s best and brightest football products come through the area. 

Love received the call up to the Eagles PA microphone for the Spring Game of 1982 after the previous PA announcer went on an extended vacation. On a lark, He called up the Eagles again before the beginning of the regular season to see if he could stay on. To his surprise, the person in charge of getting and keeping PA announcers for the school told him the last man was still on vacation and that he could keep the job. “I guess it was about the third ball game; the guy that had been doing it returned,” Love remembered with a chuckle, “he opened the door to the press box, saw me and closed the door and left, and we didn’t see him anymore. In fact, I haven’t seen him since!”

Robert Love
Robert Love has done the PA announcing for Niceville Eagles home games for the last 42 years - and he isn't stopping now.

1988 State Championship

Part of being around for the last forty years meant that Love got to have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: to PA the state championship game of 1988. Back in the 80’s state championship football games were held at schools instead of large venues in the middle of the state. That meant the Eagles got to host the 1988 game. 

“I knew we were going to have a quality season, with as good of a team that we had, but  I didn’t know it was going to turn out as well as it did,” Love said, “[The state championship] was a close game, but it wasn’t a close game if you know what I’m saying.”

Staying on the Mic

42 years is a long while to do anything – Public Addressing included. In total, Love has seen a state championship at home, dozens of winning seasons, a Heisman winner play high school football, and hard losses. He claims to be the only PA announcer for football current Niceville Principal and Niceville Alum Charlie Morello has ever known and only missed three home games in his PA career. 

 

One time he had Thanksgiving Dinner in San Antonio before driving back on I-10 to Niceville to perform his duties at a Niceville High School Playoff game.

 

“It’s something that I enjoy doing,” he said.

The Best Eagles of All Time

I couldn’t nail down Love on his choice for the best Niceville Eagle player of all time, but I was able to squeeze some finalist candidates out of him from the last four and a half decades watching the team. Here’s who he thinks were among the best.

Kenny Felder

Kenny Felder was a member of the 1988 State Championship team and was the team’s starting quarterback. Felder went on to a full-ride scholarship to play baseball and football at Florida State University. Felder played in a total of six games for the Seminole football team and redshirted for a year. 

Felder had a much more successful college career on the baseball diamond for legendary coach Mike Martin. He averaged an on-base percentage of .407 in 148 games played in three years. 

After a couple of years in Tallahassee, Felder was drafted in the first round of the 1992 MLB draft with the 12th overall pick by the Milwaukee Brewers. Hall of Famer Derek Jeter was selected sixth in the same draft. Felder played in 413 games in the minor leagues for the Brewers organization and was sidelined permanently after the 1996 season while at New Orleans. Felder also played in Helena, Stockton and El Paso. 

 

Love described Felder as a “good passer and a good runner if he had to. I Just enjoyed watching him play.”

Kenny Felder
Niceville High School Alum Kenny Felder was the quarterback on the 1988 state championship football team. Felder played Football and Baseball at Florida State and was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers with the 12th pick of the 1992 draft.
Felder on the warpath for the 'Noles. 📸: Florida State University

David Casteal

David Casteal played for the Eagles in the early and mid-80s and went on to a collegiate career at the University of Alabama during the Bill Curry Era. “David was one of the best running backs we’ve ever had. He came through Lewis. We had a bunch of boys come through Lewis. Most of the good boys came through Lewis because they were military-connected. At that time they had housing there.”

David Casteal in his Alabama Crimson Red uniform.

Ricky Thomas

Ricky Thomas was another strong running back for the Eagles in the 1980s. After his time in The Nest, Thomas played college football at Alabama. Following his time in Tuscaloosa, Thomas played a single year in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks before turning to coach. Starting in the 1997 season, Thomas coached 15 seasons in the NFL – including as a Tight Ends Coach in Indianapolis when that team won the Super Bowl. 


Thomas currently serves as the Dean of Student Life at the prestigious McCallie School in Tennessee.

Man in suit
Ricky Thomas

Shi'Kim Coward

Shi’Kim Coward graduated in 2015 and played college football for Jacksonville State University. At 5’9 171 pounds, Love remembered him as a fast and slashing running back who didn’t mind taking a hit. “His last name was ‘Coward’ but was for sure no coward,” Love said.

Thomas currently serves as the Dean of Student Life at the prestigious McCallie School in Tennessee.

Shi'Kim Coward

Jerome McIntosh

McIntosh played for the Eagles in the mid-80s and graduated from The Nest in 1985. He went on to play college football at Tulane. Initially, McIntosh played quarterback at Tulane, the position he played at Niceville. His junior year saw him switch over to wide receiver. In his collegiate career, he was responsible for 19 catches and 20 touchdowns.

Jerome McIntosh
Jerome McIntosh

Wrapping Up

Love doesn’t plan to make it 50 years on the mic. But he still has a couple more seasons left in him. “I plan to at least go one more year, I might go til I’m 85 years old, but after that point I’m going to definitely cut it off,” the 82-year-old said.

You can catch Love on the mic a couple more times this season – check out the Niceville High School Football Schedule for more information. 

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