Jake Jakuszeit makes his living by talking quietly.

The native of North Olmsted works on weekdays from midnight-8 a.m. at Alden Library.

But on Friday and Saturday nights, Jakuszeit is the loudest person on campus.

For 10 years, the 32-year-old has volunteered as Bird Arena’s vibrant public address announcer for Ohio home games and has mixed an electrifying, unique and humorous atmosphere throughout the 60-year-old building.

“I yell into the microphone,” Jakuszeit said. “Like people would ask, ‘Oh what do you do (at Bird Arena)?’ ‘I yell into the microphone.’"

***

Jakuszeit’s voice is a staple at Bird Arena, but he’s done more than just serve as the voice of Ohio hockey.

As a student volunteer from 2007-08, Jakuszeit assisted in ice maintenance, sharpening skates and running the penalty box. 

By the end of his first year, Jakuszeit moved into the booth, or “Bird’s Nest,” at the arena and announced his first games.

But the fan experience from Jakuszeit’s first year as the PA announcer was much different than what Bird Arena has today.

“Over the years it’s kind of changed,” Jakuszeit said. “When I first started, I would just show up around 7 o’clock. I would have a script that was pretty basic and would include starting lineups, if there were any sponsors that had to be announced during the game and then just announce goals and penalties.”

Once coach Sean Hogan joined the program in 2014, the fan experience began to evolve.

The Bobcats have since introduced in-game entertainment for the fans, such as “Score-O” and “Chuck-a-Puck” where fans get the opportunity to throw plastic pucks onto the ice.

“Sean and I, since he’s come, have become great friends and also have a great working relationship,“ Jakuszeit said. “Where we have tried to make the experience of all the fans at Bird something that brings them back, usually there’s going to be good hockey, but we want them to also have a good time in general during breaks.”

In addition to PA duties, Jakuszeit is responsible for the music selection at Bird Arena, which includes the usual "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond at the first intermission and “YMCA” by Village People at the second.

Listeners of the Bird Arena tunes may notice, however, that the music is not always of the “clean” variety.

Jakuszeit tries to find the filtered versions of songs, but he takes suggestions from Ohio’s players, who sometimes propose songs that simply don’t contain the cleaner versions he desires.

But if a song doesn’t have a clean version, he won’t say no to it.

Why?

Well, it’s a college hockey game.

"I'm sensitive to the fact that families and children come to the games,” Jakuszeit said. “I pretty much stick to clean versions of songs, when available, but this is a college hockey game.

“People want to hear, like Kid Cudi, and I'm like, 'OK.' Whatever you want to listen to, that's fine, but some music there's not clean versions. So it is what it is."

Jakuszeit tries to enhance the music experience by not playing the same song twice in one weekend, but with the task of announcing the game and choosing music, he can only keep track of the songs so much.

“Normally I start at the beginning of the alphabet (on the song playlist) on Friday," Jakuszeit said. "And the opposite end on Saturday's because sometimes I forget, you know, 'Have I played this yet?' I just try to keep things up to date.”

While the music and fan experience have continuously changed, there’s always been one constant.

When the Bobcats take the ice to begin the game, the team is greeted with Jakuszeit’s thunderous pronunciation of “Ohio Bobcats.”

Jakuszeit vocally elongates the second “O” of Ohio to a capacity few others could reach and follows it up with a booming “Bobcats” that rattles Bird Arena.

The moment feels like a triumphant ceremony, as Jakuszeit turns out the arena’s lights and illuminates the ice with another set of multi-colored spotlights.

As Ohio’s most frequent starting goalie, Jimmy Thomas often leads the line of Bobcats taking the ice. 

With Jakuszeit’s vocal entrance, the experience for Thomas is unforgettable.

“It's definitely something special,” Thomas said. “When we're all back in the tunnel before we come out, we always scream, 'We got a lights show!' and that's how we know it's time to go. Then we hear Jake start chiming in and then as soon as he hits his 'O' we just sprint on to the ice. 

“It's just a great feeling because everyone is watching you come on and then Jake's being loud. It's just a great atmosphere to come out to."

Jakuszeit’s boisterous actions play such a huge role in feeding Ohio’s energy that Hogan makes Jakuszeit’s presence mandatory.

The last time Jakuszeit missed a home game was in 2015, when a kidney transplant forced him to miss Alabama’s weekend visit to Athens.

The Bobcats gave up a goal in the first minute of each game, and Hogan has ensured that Jakuszeit’s been available for home games ever since.

“Sean has mentioned that to me numerous times,” Jakuszeit said. “Like Homecoming weekend, my cousin is getting married in Florida, and I'm not going. I'm going to be at Ohio hockey games instead. He regularly tells me that I'm not allowed to miss any games."

Jakuszeit adds energy to the ice, but he also likes to add a little humor into some of his announcements.

In Ohio’s opening-weekend game against John Carroll, Jakuszeit let the fans know that a Blue Streaks' penalty expired “at the sound of the meep … meep!”

He has also previously announced that a player will spend two minutes in the box for “throwing up the elbow” after an elbowing penalty.

For some penalty calls he disagrees with?

“Two minutes for playing hockey,” Jakuszeit would say.

Most fans have enjoyed the comedy, but not all of them have taken it with the grain of salt, Jakuszeit implies.

Jakuszeit chuckled as he remembered an encounter with a parent of the opposing team, who was upset at the label he gave a visiting player returning to the ice for full strength after the player received a diving penalty.

“I said, ‘The embellisher is back on the ice,’ instead of, ‘The team is back at full-strength,’" Jakuszeit said. “They didn’t like that I said that and they said, ‘That’s bush-league, that’s amateur.’ 

“I was like, ‘That’s what this place is.’”

***

Jakuszeit’s relationship with the Bobcats reaches beyond just from the booth to the ice.

The Bobcats consider Jakuszeit part of their team. He frequently attends Ohio’s social events and was pictured in the team photo last season. 

“He's a total part of the Ohio hockey family,” Hogan said. “He has a ton of passion for the team and a ton of passion for the rink. He's really an integral part of what we do. You can't say anything bad about the guy."

Jakuszeit, Hogan and the other assistant coaches routinely go to Buffalo Wild Wings after home games. 

“It’s good to just talk about what happened,” Jakuszeit said about his last “B-Dubs” meetup with the coaches after a season-opening 6-0 win over John Carroll. “Sean, being the head coach, is always trying to improve the team and make it better. He has a very critical hockey mind on how to coach the guys, but sometimes you have to remind him, and even me sometimes when I’m watching I’ll be like, ‘That guy is better than that.’ But we won.”

Jakuszeit also creates nicknames for guys on the team, and he’ll sometimes mix them into his game announcements.

“He'll ask us, 'Is it OK if I use a nickname here and there?'” senior Jake Faiella said. “We were like 'Yeah sure, wonder what he'll come up with next.’ Then someone will score a goal and we hear a nickname get thrown out there and it's pretty funny."

Jakuszeit believes the nicknames also build the relationship between fans and the team.

“Fans feel ownership over the team because they're here month after month, year after year,” Jakuszeit said. “For them to be able to have a closer connection, I think that's great.”

One of Jakuszeit’s favorite nicknames was for a former Bobcat, Nathan De La Torre.

“When (De La Torre) was a player everyone called him 'DLT,'" Jakuszeit said. "That just kind of stuck. So instead of announcing him as 'Nathan De La Torre,' I would say, 'DLT,' and Gang Green would shout, 'That is all!' Those things are kind of organic and you can't plan for some of that."

Outside of the raucous environment of Bird Arena, Jakuszeit’s job at Alden as a Library Support Associate has further grown the relationship he has with teammates, who frequently complete schoolwork together at the library.

“Now that I work at the library,” Jakuszeit said, “I see them all the time working on projects, so you can build a relationship where you can see them as more than just a name and number on the back. They’re students here, and they take the OU pride beyond just being a Bobcat on the ice. I think it’s awesome to build relationships outside of the rink.”

Jakuszeit recognizes the oddity of going from shouting to students on weekend nights to having quiet, normal conversations with them inside Alden on weekday nights.

“I guess I don't have a day job, I have a night job,” Jakuszeit said. “It's funny because people would ask, 'Oh, how's the library?'

“I'd be like, 'Oh it's quiet.'”

***

In Jakuszeit’s decade-long tenure at Bird Arena, he’s built a bridge that has seemingly had a direct effect on not only the electricity of the Bird Arena environment but also Ohio’s prolonged stretch of success.

The bridge is irreplaceable.

“Having somebody else do it would be weird,” Hogan said on Jakuszeit’s role. “It wouldn't feel the same. If he ever leaves, which we hope he never does, it would be some real big shoes to fill."

@anthonyp_2

ap012215@ohio.edu

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