Photo Credit: Scott L. Huck
by Kara Steinman
November 14, 2000
"Go organ!" Whenever Cedarville University senior Tim Priano hears that cue through his headset, Columbus hockey fans get another rousing song on the organ. Priano serves as the inaugural organist for the brand-new professional hockey expansion team, the Columbus Blue Jackets.
A Pittsburgh native and die-hard Pittsburgh Penguins fan, Priano was browsing the Web site for the brand-new Columbus team when he came across their notice for organist auditions. "It was never really a lifetime goal of mine, but I thought it would be a lot of fun to do," Priano explained. "I couldn`t think of anything better than to play the organ and watch hockey at the same time."
Although Priano is a 16-year veteran at piano, the organ was relatively new to him. He didn`t think that he stood a chance of snagging the organist position. But just two and a half weeks before the Blue Jackets` season started, Priano was selected from approximately 20 applicants to be the Blue Jackets` man at the organ.
Knowing that Priano was going into the job fairly cold, the Blue Jackets promptly flew him to California to spend several days watching the San José Sharks` organist, Jim Sealy, in action. Priano then jumped right into his job at Nationwide Arena, where the Blue -more- Cedarville Student Tickles the Keys for Pro Hockey, p. 2 Jackets play. "Not a lot of people have to learn their job in front of 15,000-18,500 people, but I`m getting used to it," he laughed.
Playing an organ for a professional sports team is not as easy as Priano makes it look. "It`s all spur of the moment," Priano noted. Director of Game Operations Kimberly Kershaw sits in the penalty box and, via headset, tells Priano when to start and stop playing. Most of the time she gives Priano the freedom to play whatever he wants, but in certain situations she may require specific songs, like the Charge call, Let`s Go Jackets, the Hey Song, the Lone Ranger theme, or even bits from Phantom of the Opera.
By the end of the season, Priano will have provided music in 44 games, stretching from Sept. 20 to April 8. Even though his three or four evening games per week keep him out until 12:30 a.m., this business management major pulls an 18 credit-hour load at Cedarville University. "It`s exhausting, but worth it," he shared. "This is the chance of a lifetime."