Burnham, Williams inducted into BHS Distinguished Achievement Hall of Fame
Even if you've never heard of Kelly Burnham and Kristen (Doyscher) Williams, chances are you've heard their work.
Burnham is the public address announcer for the Minnesota Vikings. Williams is a senior vice president with Warner Music Nashville. Both are graduates of Brainerd High School and, on Friday, their names were added to the list of BHS Distinguished Achievement Hall of Fame members during a banquet in their honor at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa.
Williams, who was introduced by Diane Hauan—her choir director at the former Franklin Junior High School—works directly with radio stations and online streaming platforms throughout the country to get artists' music on playlists. She represents country artists such as Blake Shelton, Zac Brown Band, Brett Eldredge, Cole Swindell and Hunter Hayes, to name a few.
She fondly recalled her time attending Lowell Elementary School, Washington Middle School, Franklin Junior High School and Brainerd High School.
"To say I was lucky to grow up here is an understatement, and I have been reminded of that the last few days. A very famous song says, 'You don't know what you got til it's gone.' I believe that to be true," Williams said during her induction.
"Looking back on my time in the Brainerd Public School system, specifically high school, I realize how lucky i was. Whether I was on the tennis courts, or the softball field and the choir room, or the classroom, I always felt valued. I was given opportunities not every student in America has been given."
At Brainerd High School, Williams participated in A Capella Choir, Concert Chorale Women's Chorus and Windfall Ensemble. Williams had a 4.0 GPA, was a member of class cabinet and a multi-sport athlete, serving as captain of both her tennis and softball teams. Williams graduated from BHS in 1998 and left the Brainerd lakes area for the College of St. Benedict near St. Cloud.
She initially planned to pursue a teaching degree, but instead pursued a vocal career. Following her freshman year at St. Benedict, Williams moved to Nashville, Tenn., in August 1999 at age 19. She transferred to Belmont University, known for its music business program. She did later return and graduate from St. Benedict with a bachelor's degree in accounting in December 2002.
Burnham, who was introduced into the hall of fame by Brainerd Dispatch Sports Editor Mike Bialka, mixed humor with a booming tenor voice when recalling his time at Brainerd High School.
As he noted the accomplishments of past inductees—doctors, professors and technology entrepreneurs—Burnham joked his achievements didn't equal those of other hall of fame members. But as his picture was on the hall of fame plaque and everyone was already at the banquet, he might as well proceed.
"I'm truly honored to be included in this group of BHS graduates," he said.
Known professionally as Alan Roach, Burnham, a 1984 Brainerd High School graduate, got his announcing start at KLIZ in Brainerd and spent numerous years working for radio stations across the country.
He has been the PA announcer for Minnesota Vikings home games since 2016. He was also the announcer for nine Super Bowls; this February's game in Minnesota will mark his 10th. He's announced ice hockey during the past four Winter Olympics: Sochi, Russia, 2014; Vancouver, Canada, 2010; Torino, Italy, 2006; and Salt Lake City, 2002. He also announced boxing at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The day after the Super Bowl this winter in Minneapolis he'll fly to PyeongChang, South Korea, to announce at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
Burnham, who lives in Littleton, Colo., is or was the PA announcer for the following Colorado teams: Colorado Avalanche (NHL), 1999 to present; Colorado Rapids (MLS), 2016 to present; Denver Broncos (NFL), 2000-2016; Colorado Rockies (MLB), 1993-2006; University of Colorado Buffaloes, 2007-09; Denver University Pioneers, 2004-05; and the Colorado Springs SkySox, 1990-91.
Burnham announced for numerous Pro Bowls, NFL drafts and Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremonies. He's been the announcer for the NFL Pro Bowl since 2009 and the NFL International Series games in London since 2007. He's also announced five Olympic Gold Medal Hockey games and multiple NHL and MLB All-Star Games. In 2015, he announced baseball at the Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada. He's announced for professional soccer games, including the 2017 USA Men's National Team, 2016 USA Women's National Team, the 2015 MLS All-Stars vs. Tottenham, and the 2017 Confederations Cup in St. Petersburg, Russia, an international soccer tournament preceding the World Cup games, which will have him back in Russia in summer of 2018. In 2009-10, he announced for the Churchill Cup, an international rugby championship.
And Saturday he added Brainerd High School Warriors to that extensive list when he served as PA announcer for the homecoming football game between Brainerd and Bemidji.
Burnham mentioned the encouragement he received from former Brainerd High School teacher Guy Doud, a former national teacher of the tear. He said Doud helped him learn while high school was incredibly important, it was just a "blip on the radar" of the things and experiences that would come his way.
"Learning high school science, high school math and history are certainly important but learning imagination, responsibility, problem-solving, cooperation, courtesy, understanding, integrity, all those things are incredibly important and BHS provided the right teachers, the right coaches, the right role models and the right fellow students," Burnham said. "In my high school experience, it put me on the road of learning the importance of striving for each one of those attributes."
The Brainerd High School Distinguished Achievement Hall of Fame is sponsored by Brainerd Public Schools, Brainerd Public Schools Foundation and the Brainerd Dispatch.