Jeremy Striano remembers the moment he fell in love with the game of hockey. His Aunt Cathie and Uncle Smitty took him to his first game — the New York Rangers vs. the Colorado Avalanche. Sitting in the upper level at Madison Square Garden, the little boy from Kearny, N.J., was hooked.
“It was like a roller coaster,” he recalls. “The chants from the crowds, the speed and skill on the ice, the grit of the players, the team chemistry — it was the most exciting thing I’d ever seen.”
Striano, a junior media and communication studies major, now shares his love of hockey with the campus community through his work at the WCUA radio station. He is the color commentator for the University’s club hockey team and the host of his own talk radio show, “The Dekin’ Deacon Hockey Show.” The name is a nod to his commitment to his faith (Deacon) and his passion for the sport (a “deke” is an ice hockey technique).
Growing up in the suburbs of New York City, Striano has fond memories of listening to WFAN sports radio with his dad on rides to and from school. “I’m biased,” he says, “but there is nothing like being a New York sports fan. No matter how great or how bad our teams are, we are loud, enthusiastic, and opinionated. We live for the season,” says the Mets, Jets, and Rangers fan.
Striano grew up playing sports and he loved sports video games. “I would play in my room and mute the sound so that I could do my own play-by-play. One time, my parents heard me and said, ‘You’re pretty good at that.’ It got me thinking.” By high school, Striano had a career goal.
He got involved in the University radio station as a first-year student, serving as sports chair. During the fall of his sophomore year, student station manager Will Tishuk asked him if he wanted his own hockey talk show. “It felt like a leap for me, but I had to say ‘yes.’” Every Monday at 5 p.m., fans of his show tune in to hear updates on CatholicU’s team and on NHL teams, along with Striano’s predictions and analysis.
Most of the show is unscripted. “It’s me sharing my fandom. No editing. That’s what I love about radio,” says Striano. Within the show are recurring segments like the “Triple Deke” (named after a move made famous in the film “The Mighty Ducks”). “The three worst jerseys in NHL history was a Triple Deke fan favorite,” he says.
Striano is also the color commentator for WCUA’s live broadcasts of CatholicU hockey games. Working alongside John Schepis, B.A. 2019, who does the play-by-play, his job is to provide the analysis between plays. “When the ref blows the whistle, that’s my cue,” he says.
He is at all the home and away games, and feels like part of the team. That couldn’t have been more evident than in January, when the team stood by him at the first game after his grandfather died. “I was close to my grandfather,” says Striano. “He was my best friend, and he was someone who I could always count on to be in my corner.”
That game was played in Lancaster, Pa., against Franklin and Marshall College. Striano’s parents surprised him by coming to the game. And the team offered an even bigger surprise when they dedicated the game to his grandfather. After the final horn, they asked him to come to the locker room. “They offered their support with kind words and I hugged each one of the players. I’ll never forget that. It felt like a brotherhood,” he says. “Having my parents there made it all-the-more special.”
Striano’s ultimate goal is to be a professional sports broadcaster and to have his own sports radio talk show. But for now, he’s happy to keep upping his game at the college level. “I know I have so much to learn. And with each show and each game, I try to get better,” he says. He is reminded of that every time he walks across campus and hears another student call out, “Hey, Deacon.” “No matter how many times that happens, it’s always a surprise.”
— Ellen N. Woods is director of creative services and managing editor, CatholicU magazine. She can be reached at email@example.com