“Kaboom! Oh baby I love this team!” Gary Rima reflects on his 29-year run as the voice of the Panthers

UNI football and men’s basketball have played to the soundtrack of his voice. But after 29 years, Gary Rima is hanging up the headset.
Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 8:21 PM CST
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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (KCRG) - UNI football and men’s basketball have played to the soundtrack of his voice. But after 29 years, Gary Rima is hanging up the headset.

“I will walk into a restaurant and someone will see me. They won’t say ‘Gary’. They will say, ‘kaboom! Hey baby I love this team!” Rima said.

The Gary Rima broadcast story starts in 1974 in the bleachers of a junior high football game in Strawberry Point. Rima needed an audition tape - yes, a tape - to apply for a job.

“I broadcast the game into a tape recorder,” Rima said. “People though ‘Rima have you lost your mind? What are you doing?’”

After hundreds of high school broadcasts, Rima got the job with UNI. He’s not ashamed about being a homer.

“When you are the broadcaster for one team they are your team,” Rima said. “You win with them, you lose with them. You get the highs and the lows. You get the ups and downs.”

Rima has worked worked with some talented partners. He’s teamed with Scott Peterson for football. Virge Ericson and Kevin Boyle have been his men’s basketball color commentators

“It has been unbelievable. I have never taken it for granted.” Rima said. “I have tried to work hard from day one until now, year 29. One of the things I am most proud of. I have never missed a game.”

Rima might have stepped aside earlier, but the pandemic threw a curveball. He said he didn’t want it to be his final year.

“Kind of cool that I am going to be done on my terms. There is something to be said for that.”

Rima says he’s grateful for the opportunity that Northern Iowa has give him.

“One last year. One last tour, One last trip around the league.” Rima said. “Tough to step away but the timing feels right.”

Long after he takes off the headset for the last time, “kaboom!” will always echo through Cedar Falls.

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