TEWKSBURY – Have you ever been watching a Sunday Night Football game, listening to Al Michaels, or listening to a Patriots game with Bob Socci doing the announcing and wondered how these professionals got their start? What led them to the pinnacle of their professions? How much work was involved to get there?
Well, chances are, most of them started off somewhat similar to Tewksbury’s own Andrew Della Piana. The 15-year-old sophomore at Tewksbury High is looking to go down in his own path towards a career in sports broadcasting, and while there is a long way to go to achieve his dream of landing a big time broadcasting gig, it would seem unwise to bet against this talented young man climbing the ladder of his chosen profession.
Della Piana, who is also a three-sport athlete, has already established himself as the “Voice of the Redmen” doing play-by-play broadcasting of TMHS Boys and Girls Basketball as well as the Redmen Football team. The talented broadcaster also pulls double duty at the basketball games, doing the public address announcing for the fans in attendance at the same time he is doing play-by-play for television for Tewksbury Telemedia.
Della Piana has been working in one capacity or another at Redmen football games since he was an eighth grader. He started out by assisting public address announcer Joel McKenna, which he did for two years, before moving on to the television broadcasting side of things this past season, where he works alongside Bill Gilman.
Della Piana took over play-by-play and PA duties for the basketball games as a freshman, seamlessly pulling double duty without ever missing a beat, keeping the television audience entertained with his play-by-play, while also never missing the announcement of a basket or a substitution for the live audience at the game. Della Piana may have only started working games as an eighth grader, but he was ready to begin his career in broadcasting well before that.
“It’s just something I have always liked,” Della Piana said. “When I would be watching the games, and listening to the announcers, I just always thought it would be great to be a part of something like that, to possibly be part of history. I just thought it would be the greatest thing, and I love doing it.”
Della Piana took to both the play-by-play and the public address announcing quite naturally, seeming to have a God given talent that allowed him to succeed almost immediately. But while he certainly has the talent to be successful, Della Piana is also willing to put in the work in order to improve. He attended several sports broadcasting camps, including the past two summers when at Simmons College in Boston where he had the opportunity to learn from local broadcasting stars like Bob Socci of the Patriots, Judd Sirott of the Bruins and Sean Grande of the Celtics.
The camps were a tremendous learning experience for Della Piana, as along with participating in several exercises to improve his broadcasting skills. He also got some insight as to the amount of work these professionals put in to achieve their goals.
“We had a different speaker come in every day, and they told us how they got started in the business and how they got to where they are today,” Della Piana said. “Most of them started out by doing it at their school whether it was writing or play-by-play, or doing podcasts.
“Most of them went to good colleges for broadcasting and they were able to land small jobs at first before moving up. They had to start small, and they eventually got noticed by bigger companies, and now everyone knows who they are.”
It will not be easy, but Della Piana is hoping to follow that same path to stardom. He is certainly no stranger to hard work. In addition to his broadcasting duties he is also a member of the junior varsity golf, hockey and baseball teams at TMHS. It is a busy schedule, but he has managed it very well, and his coach with the Redmen Golf team, Jim Sullivan has little doubt that Della Piana will continue to be successful.
“Andrew does a great job with all that he does in the classrooms where he is an excellent student, being a three-sport athlete and with his work with the announcing,” Sullivan said. “Having listened to him during broadcasts, he gives you what’s going on, the atmosphere, the situation and the importance of what’s taking place. He’s not a Johnny Most, Scott Zolak or Jack Edwards type of cheerleader and homer kind of guy Andrew’s down the middle, fair and honest without being a cheerleader or obnoxious. He has a fantastic future ahead of him and as long as he continues to work hard, prepare himself and stay on the same path he’s on.”
In addition to learning from professionals at camps he has attended, Della Piana also feels like he has benefited from working with McKenna doing the public address announcing, as well as Gilman while doing play-by-play.
“Joel was great to work with. He really took me under his wing and I was able to learn his style and learn a lot from him. He was a really good mentor to me,” Della Piana said. “Bill and I had a really great connection last year doing the football games. When one of us says something, other one knows when to step in. It went really well working with him.”
And if Della Piana is ever looking for a partner for his basketball broadcasts, there would be no shortage of candidates, starting with Sullivan.
“Very honestly, it’s something I enjoy doing on occasion myself,” said Sullivan. “I said to him following our girls state tournament basketball game against Danvers, ‘I want to do a game with you next year, you’re in charge, I’ll just kick in as the color man from time to time’. “He really does a great job, and I would be honored to sit in and do a game with him.
“Andrew is always prepared and ready. He knows our team, the opponents’ team and coaches, as well as information that most announcers from another town don’t know. Andrew really has a great voice and temperament for the job as well.”
The preparation that Sullivan referred to was on full display last season when Della Piana was called upon to do the play-by-play for the Tewksbury/Boston Latin tournament hockey game. He had never done play by play for hockey before, but when Athletic Director Ron Drouin asked him on the day of the game to step in, Della Piana didn’t hesitate.
“Mr. Drouin asked if I would do play-by-play, and I said ‘absolutely’. I went home and did some homework, and then I printed out the Latin roster and started memorizing the key players names,” Della Piana said. “The first period was kind of tough, getting used to the pace of play for hockey, but by the second period I was able to get more into it and it went pretty well. But I would say that hockey is the hardest sport to do play-by-play.”
Della Piana has also gotten great support at home, where his parents Jean and Neil have been a constant source of encouragement in his quest to break into a very challenging business.
“They have been my biggest supporters. They will always let me know what I am doing well, and what I need to fix,” Della Piana said. “My dad has been trying to help me move my career forward. They both always tell me to keep striving for what I want, that all of my hard work will pay off.”
For the immediate future, Della Piana is just hoping there are some sports to broadcast (and to play) some time in our near future. Right now he is managing his Twitter account @Dellie_5, where his followers are kept up to date on the latest happenings in local and national sports scene. Soon enough, college will be on the horizon a couple of years down the road, and then who knows where his career will bring him. But it looks like the sky is the limit for Della Piana.
“I would love to go to a great school for broadcasting like Syracuse University so I can pursue a degree in broadcast journalism,” Della Piana said. “If I were able to make that my career, that would be a dream come true.”