GILCREST — Rene Aafedt has struggled with the absence of Bruce Kamada’s unwavering energy in the gym.
As the coach of the volleyball program for the past twenty years, Aafedt has understood how much the “Voice of the Vikings” became woven into the fabric of Valley High School. It just doesn’t feel the same without Bruce.
“He used to say, ‘When you’re done, I’m done.’ This was going to be our last season, so it’s kind of tough,” said Aafedt, with more than a touch of emotion in her voice.
Kamada had been a major component of Valley’s volleyball family, a program that has reached seven Class 3A state championship matches since 2004, winning titles in 2010 and 2012. He was there every season of Aafedt’s career up until this one, her last before retiring.
Kamada, who passed away on September 9 at age 69, had a lengthy background in sports. An All-City football player at Manual High School in Denver in the 1960s, he continued his gridiron career at the University of Northern Colorado (called Colorado State College at the time).
Later on, he worked as the marketing director and announcer for Bandimere Speedway and as an announcer for the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA). He also owned South Platte Auto Supply in LaSalle for 23 years and was even the Mayor of LaSalle at one time.
Despite all his other endeavors, Kamada never shied from lending his voice as the public address announcer at Valley events. He dealt with some health issues over the past few years, which included suffering a severe hemorrhagic stroke in February, but until the very end treasured honoring student-athletes. And it wasn’t just Valley Vikings.
“My understanding of how important and how special Bruce was really came from my first year as an athletic director when we hosted a volleyball regional,” Kevin McWain said.
Now in his third season as the athletic director, McWain has been in the district for over a decade.
“That was the first year I think that Bruce really started having some health issues. He had not been able to be at all of the volleyball games,” McWain said. “He showed up for regionals to announce. At the end of the deciding game for each of the participants, he singled out and acknowledged all of the seniors from those teams who came up here to visit from wherever they were in the state.”
Parents from opposing teams, upon completion of the tournament, expressed just how much they appreciated Kamada being a supporter of all the athletes.
He also made a habit of inviting fans from Valley and their opponents to be “loud and proud” at all events.
“When he started the introductions and recognized the other team for being here, he always made a point to encourage the other team to be vocal,” McWain said. “He would joke around with them and say, ‘Oh my goodness, that’s not nearly loud enough.’ He would make it a contest for the Valley fans to be louder too.
“He just created an environment that made it exciting for everybody here. What he did can’t be duplicated.”
Keith Grant has been an assistant as well as a head coach for a number of sports at Valley since 1990, around the time Kamada became “The Voice of the Vikings.” Grant was fond of the way Kamada acted in regard to Valley’s opponents.
“He treated the other team’s kids just as well as he treated our own kids, and same with the parents,” Grant said, even as Kamada would sometimes lightheartedly jest the other teams’ fans.
Kamada’s personality and character certainly showed in the gym and at the field. He announced volleyball, football, basketball and sometimes baseball games, and his talents were called upon at several district and state tournaments. But, his impact went far-beyond calling contests.
Kamada had airtime at a local radio station and would invite players in to interview on a Friday night after a football game or on a Saturday morning. He also continued relationships with generations of local athletes long after they were done competing for the black and gold.
“He didn’t just make the connections with the kids while they were on the court or on the field here, he maintained the friendships after they graduated,” McWain said. “They became part of his family.”