[Dial: October] By John R. ‘11
It took ESPN sportscaster Chris Berman ’73 more than 12 years to return home to the Hilltop -- a lapse he called “my bad” -- but an Upper School audience greeted his Oct. 22 speech with enthusiasm.
The theme of Mr. Berman’s speech was “anything is possible.” He reflected on how seemingly irrelevant coursework and experiences at Hackley would in fact have a direct bearing on his career in radio and television journalism.
He covered a wide range of topics, such as his path to ESPN, basketball in the PAC, his favorite teachers at Hackley, and the power of his Hackley education. “Some of the things you learn here you’re going to really need later on,” he said. “No one’s smart enough to tell you that some of the things that are interesting to you now might be interesting to you twelve years from now.”
Mr. Berman said, “The most important event and my favorite time at Hackley was in September of 1970, because Hackley let in girls and I was all for it. In my class, there were only twelve girls, which made the prom date tough—you really had to scramble.”
He reflected on meeting Dial deadlines, working on Hilltop radio, astronomy and math classes, as well as the growth of his love for sports.
“I loved to learn math here,” Mr. Berman said, recounting his invention of a primitive computer program at Hackley that he would later use to correctly predict the underdog winner of Superbowl IV. “Who would of guessed, thirty five years later I’m the Swami because of that game,” he said.
At the end of the assembly Mr. Berman had time to answer a few questions from students, and even assured concerned Jets fans that their team is going to be “just fine.”
After graduating from Hackley in 1973, Mr. Berman enrolled at Brown, where he majored in history and became the voice of the Bruins’ football, basketball, and baseball teams. After college, he went on to work for two radio stations and a TV station in Hartford, Conn. At age 24, Berman joined ESPN, which would grow to become the largest sports network in the world.
“I was at the right place at the right time,” he said. “If they hadn’t been in Connecticut, I would have never applied.”
Reflecting on his journey from Hackley to the professional sports world, Mr. Berman added, “Opportunity will knock, sometimes by luck, sometimes by being in the right position. Recognize it for what it is because you’re not going to have nine shots at this. Grab a hold and see where it brings you, it’s like water skiing.”(Have you seen the Chris Berman Hackley video?)