If ESPN on-air host John Brickley played baseball, he’d be listed as a utility infielder. If he played basketball, he would probably guard all five positions. If he opted for football, he would be a gadget player. No matter how you want to classify versatility, John Brickley’s career is the perfect embodiment of it.
Now as one of those people in the business, he hopes he can launch some of the next great sports media careers. This semester, Brickley is teaching a studio hosting and play-by-play class at Marist.
Brickley got his start at Seton Hall University, where he worked as the director for the college’s radio station as well as their “Pirate TV” television station while completing his undergraduate degree. He was practically in the industry before even receiving his diploma, so he realizes just how capable students, such as the ones he’ll be teaching at Marist, are at providing quality play-by-play abilities.
“It was a great way to get in front of people that had been in the business for a long time,” said Brickley.
From there he landed his first job in the very small town of Ephrata, Pennsylvania as a sports anchor for Blue Ridge Cable. Brickley increased his television knowledge, including the processes of pregame and postgame shows, adding even more skills to his toolbelt. On weekends, he spent his free time adding to his resume, filling in at the nearby CBS affiliate in Springfield.
After a few more radio and television stops along, Brickley finally got his big break when his friend, Freddie Coleman of ESPN, helped him nab an interview and subsequent job with the network doing radio and remote studio work.
Coleman paved the way for Brickley and interestingly enough taught a class of his own at Marist over the past year. While Coleman played no role in Brickley’s arrival here in Poughkeepsie, had he not brought him to ESPN, Brickely never would’ve stumbled upon the person who brought him to Marist.
That person would be Marist’s Interim Director of Sports Communication, Chris Riviezzo. Riviezzo and Brickley (or “Riv” and “Brick” as they call each other) met in 2015, and the two sparked not only a great working relationship but a genuine friendship.
“It was great because we were working together every week. He trusted me, I trusted him,” Brickley said. Riviezzo was the go-to guy for ESPN’s women’s college basketball coverage, and Brickley became a consistent studio host, meaning the two spent a great deal of time together.
Nearly seven years later, in Riviezzo’s first few weeks as the Interim Director of Sports Communication, he knew he wanted Brickley to play a prominent role in his program. Riviezzo brought in Brickley for a series of student-friendly workshops and even recommended him for a full-time opening in the communication department.
Despite their efforts, he was not given the job, but that didn’t stop him. He continued the workshops, and alongside Riviezzo’s lead, came up with the idea to teach a class this spring.
“Riv had said, ‘Hey listen, I think this would be a great opportunity for you to come in and teach an on-air, studio play-by-play class, give your knowledge, give your insight’, and the rest is history,” Brickley said.
The class will allow students a chance to simulate what it’s like to be live on-air, calling play-by-play or voicing over highlights. He plans to get students working in Marist’s very own studio, practicing every aspect of studio work possible.
Now comes the part where an ESPN on-air host has to teach around 20 Marist students and keep them engaged for an entire two-and-a-half-hour class period. For any other sports media personality this transition might be a little bit of a challenge, but for Brickley, it’s just another chance to showcase his flexibility.
“The business is so difficult and challenging, I learned a lot from internships, so I figured if I could parlay that into a teaching opportunity, I think it’s going to give students a better understanding in those settings.”
Package that together with support from his longtime friend Riviezzo, and tie it in a bow with a longtime aspiration to teach, and Brickley will undoubtedly provide Marist students with a wealth of sports broadcasting knowledge this spring.
Edited by Luke Sassa and Jonathan Kinane
Photo provided by John Brickley