For him, game day is different. There are no pregame festivities, no tempting tents filled with delicious, assorted foods and beverages prepared for a seven-hour pregame party. A small, simple breakfast coupled with a dose of sports news via his daily newspaper and ESPN's SportsCenter are enough to satisfy him.
After those pregame festivities are over, he is waiting at Bright House Networks Stadium to welcome Knights fans to the game.
Erik Kohler is the announcer for many Central Florida and UCF sports, including UCF baseball and basketball. His voice is probably most widely recognized, though, when it echoes throughout Bright House Networks Stadium, with him emphatically exclaiming, "That's good enough for another UCF ... " and the crowd roars back, " ... First down!"
Though football may currently be his most-recognized home, baseball is where the popular voice of UCF sports began. Kohler was approached during the latter years of his UCF career as a business major to announce at UCF baseball games, and he immediately took advantage of the opportunity. Eventually, Kohler knew his work with the baseball program would not satiate his desire and aspirations for sports announcing. Football was his calling; it always was.
"I wanted to do football because that was my sport," Kohler said.
Fortunately, Kohler got his opportunity in 2001 when the former announcer of UCF football retired and UCF Athletics asked him to announce at football games. More than a decade later, he has witnessed many historic moments in UCF football history. He was there in 2013 for the return of the I-4 Corridor Clash between UCF and USF after a five-year hiatus, where the Knights won 23-20. He was there for the inaugural game in Bright House Networks Stadium, when UCF lost to then-No. 6 Texas 35-32 in 2007. He was even there when UCF snapped its 17-game losing streak by defeating Marshall 23-13 in 2005, which ended in students rushing the field and tearing down the field goal post. While the faces continually change on the field, Kohler's time at UCF has spanned more than three cycles of students.
Kohler said his style of announcing is anchored by a lot of energy. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Fox Sports' Gus Johnson, Kohler has always tried to bring a unique buzz to each game he announces.
"I like [Gus] Johnson because his personality is allowed to be a part of the broadcast," Kohler said. "There are too many announcers where you're just like, 'Man, do we need to taze you or something?'"
Kohler also hearkened back to his childhood growing up in Indiana, where he remembered the basketball teams of Coach Bobby Knight, and how the announcer at those games always added a little more excitement and drama to the game. He wanted to bring that culture to UCF.
"Whether it's old or young alumni, kids, parents, coaches, players — it doesn't matter," Kohler said, "I want to give back to UCF and do something they can be proud of. It's great to know, however small or large the number of people may be, that somehow and some way I am making my positive contribution."
The origin of his commonplace first- and third-down calls goes back to the days when UCF's gridiron games were played at the Citrus Bowl. Kohler recalled one game in particular where he saw two fans who seemed to be a lot more concerned with their beverages and their conversations than the game going on in front of them. It was then that Kohler thought to himself that maybe if he got a little louder and gave more energy, he could improve the crowd's engagement. Several games later, Kohler's notorious first- and third-down chants were born.
Although his face is not always seen, Kohler does receive recognition as the announcer of UCF sports, when people recognize his voice, and is always humbled by it. He cherishes the moments when fans walk up to him and say, "Hey, you're the 'first-down guy!'" Kohler said it's a wonderful feeling.
The announcer also mentioned that his two children, Luke, 8, and Colt, 6, are fans of his.
"They're the real heroes," Kohler said. "They even do those first-down calls better than I do."
When he's not announcing, Kohler owns and manages his own mortgage and real-estate companies. He said owning those two companies has allowed him to build his announcing career. UCF helped to jumpstart a career that included working with the Orlando Magic, the Washington Nationals, the Houston Astros, Bright House Networks, NCAA basketball, ESPN and many more. Kohler also hosts a sports radio show, EK Sports, on 740AM that airs Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Most recently, Kohler has been invited to announce at the Battle 4 Atlantis NCAA preseason basketball tournament, the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl and the inaugural AutoNation Cure Bowl.