By Bill Vilona
Ice Flyers correspondent
The Ice Flyers recently created a special moment for Dan Shugart, the long-time sports director at WEAR-TV.
Having learned weeks earlier that March 14 was the 40th anniversary of Shugart’s first day on air at the television station, Ice Flyers owner Greg Harris set the date on his personal calendar.
“I had given my staff the heads-up on this is what I would like to do if he was going to be here,” Harris said. “When I texted Dan (that day), he said he would be at the game at some point.”
When the third period began in the Ice Flyers’ game that day against Knoxville, Harris saw Shugart sitting in Section 128, where he was visiting with Blue Wahoos owner Quint Studer, who was attending the game with his wife and family members.
“I came over and say, ‘Hey Dan, can I chat with you for a second?’ And then I recognized Quint.’ So then Dan got up and we waited for a timeout to make the announcement,” Harris said.
Public address announcer Josh Gay then got the crowd’s attention and delivered a congratulatory announcement on Shugart’s anniversary.
“We just wanted to honor Dan and his 40 years (at WEAR-TV) because, my gosh, that is something special,” Harris said.
Shugart was visibly emotional, standing on the concourse area, as fans applauded while he was shown on the Pensacola Bay Center’s new video boards during the announcement.
Meanwhile, Studer got his cell phone out and positioned himself to video record the moment.
“Greg wanted it to be a total surprise, which naturally it was,” Shugart said. “It was very touching to have that happen and for both Quint and Greg to make that big of deal of it. That really says a lot for both of them.
“I have said this many times, Pensacola is so lucky to have two local pro team owners like Greg and Quint and for what they have done in this community. This just doesn’t happen at most places.”
It made for an unexpected, memorable instance. Both of Pensacola’s professional team owners were able to recognize Shugart, who has done so much for both teams with his coverage and support.
“I just thought it was so neat (Ice Flyers) did that for Dan,” Studer said. “I think it’s great that Greg recognized Dan that way and during a home game.”
After the announcement, Harris, Studer and Shugart spent some time talking together. The Blue Wahoos and Ice Flyers together have annually generated hundreds of thousands in combined attendance, along with immeasurable economic impact in the community.
The two minor league sports franchises have shared ideas and stayed committed to the common goal of bringing family friendly, entertainment, into the Pensacola area.
“I had no idea Quint would be at the game, so it was cool for three of us to kinda just sit and talk about things,” Harris said. “I’m glad we were able to make that moment happen.”