Possessing a loud and clear voice that gets higher in pitch the more excited he becomes, Jim Keating has the perfect delivery for being a public-address announcer.

With unbridled enthusiasm, he trumpets the names of Grove City Christian School athletes as he introduces the starting lineups or describes action during an event.

A favorite of administrators, coaches, student-athletes and parents, Keating will call his 1,000th contest when the girls basketball team plays host to Harvest Prep on Friday, Dec. 21. Athletics director Matt Blandin said Keating will be recognized at halftime of the game and during the boys basketball game Saturday, Dec. 22, against Berne Union.

"I take a lot of pride in this," Keating said. "It's the best seat in the house. They let me be silly and be exuberant and loud."

While many prep public-address announcers focus only on varsity events, Keating also is behind the microphone for events at the junior varsity, freshman and middle school levels.

It doesn't take long for new coaches to realize how important Keating is to the Eagles. In fact, the Grove City resident has been in his role full time since the formation of the school's varsity sports in 2002.

"I remember my first home game here, and when he took control of the pregame, it absolutely took me off guard," said boys basketball coach Chris Timlin, who is in his ninth season. "I had no idea in terms of just how outstanding, how enthusiastic he was about calling the games. He's just an awesome individual. He means so much to this program, and not just the basketball program, but the athletic programs in general.

"He brings a lot of flavor to our home games that I don't think a lot of schools are able to utilize. He is a very unique individual and he's the best in the business."

Keating, 58, has several fond memories from his 16-year tenure, including the boys basketball team advancing to a Division IV regional semifinal in the 2016-17 season. The Eagles lost to Portsmouth Clay 100-97 in double overtime to finish 22-5.

The football team reached a Division VI state semifinal in 2009, losing to Norwalk St. Paul 52-7 to finish 12-2.

Another thrill for Keating was being behind the microphone for the boys basketball team's games at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland last season and in 2006. He also announced a boys soccer game at Mapfre Stadium in 2015.

"Those kinds of things are bucket-list things," he said.

Keating also has a sorrowful memory, having served as the announcer for a ceremony held in October 2015 in honor of boys soccer player Josh Dick, who died after a battle with brain cancer.

Keating keeps busy calling football, boys soccer and girls volleyball contests in the fall and boys and girls basketball in the winter.

Blandin, who is in his fourth year as athletics director, said he and Keating quickly became friends.

"Everybody told me I needed to meet him," Blandin said. "Usually, when you start a job as AD, you get told all the people you need to meet. Jim is one of the good ones you want to talk to. He knows all the history of sports here because sports started the same time he started being the (public-address announcer). He has binders of information."

Keating also announces community-related events such as parades and celebrations.

"He's very well known in the area," Blandin said. "People are always asking him to announce things and he does a very good job with it. He's one of the humblest guys I know. He does a very good job and we always get compliments from opposing schools, opposing coaches (and) opposing fans, but he never takes credit for it."

Keating does all this while holding a full-time job at Navistar International Corp. in Springfield, where he has worked for 27 years. He estimates his travel time from Springfield to home or Eagles athletics events is about an hour.

Keating received his first chance behind the microphone by announcing homecoming basketball games in the 2000-01 and 2001-02 seasons. He has worked under six athletics directors, including Mark Woods, who first invited him to handle the announcing duties.

"I started with homecoming games and (Woods) said, 'We had such a good time, can you come and be our announcer?' " Keating said. "It's just grown and grown."

Keating also has served as a coach in baseball, softball and soccer for Grove City Christian. He also is former soccer and basketball official and baseball and softball umpire.

Keating and his wife, Lisa, have two children. John attended Grove City Christian through eighth grade before graduating from Grove City High School in 2006, and Megan graduated from Grove City Christian in 2011. She played volleyball, basketball and softball.

"This has been great for my family," Keating said. "It was a joy to watch both my kids come through and play ball here."

Blandin said Keating is known for providing a family atmosphere at home events.

"The best part of it is watching the kids play ball," Keating said. "I get emotional when it's senior night. That's always a treat. When we have homecoming, that's always special.

"The kids have really been the focus. It's not about me. It's all about the kids."

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank