PITTSBURGH– As the Pittsburgh Penguins continue to battle it out in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, one of the people working behind the scenes at PPG Paints Arena is a Westminster grad.
Craig Rechichar graduated from Westminster College in 2004 with a degree in Broadcast Communication. These days he’s a full-time account manager at PNC. But he’s still working in broadcasting thanks to a part-time gig with the Penguins Radio Network. WCN reporter Christen Duerring has more on this WC grad part-time job that puts it to work on hockey nights.
Rechichar often assists in the set-up of the pre and post-game shows, and was even on the stadium’s Jumbo-Tron for a short time. As a worker for the media, he also can get up close and personal with the athletes by conducting locker-room interviews.
He still remembers one of his first Penguins’ locker-room experiences.
“I turn to leave the room, and right in front of me is Mario Lemieux!” said Rechichar.
In his attempt to record locker-room interviews, Rechichar almost collided with star athlete Mario Lemieux. These days, he can laugh it off, and even uses the incident as an example to new recruits.
He informs interns that they will mess up at first, and make mistakes. He says the trick is to learn from them, and not to let it happen twice.
Rechichar is in high hopes that he will be able to teach another intern about this next season, as the Radio Network was unable to run their internship program this year. The crew suffered the sudden loss of their former producer and internship manager, Ray Walker, in the summer of 2016.
Walker’s passing was a shocking upset to their team, and Rechichar lost a wonderful mentor and friend to top it off.
“You know, he was just the glue that held everything together.”
The graduate would not even be involved with the Penguins if it was not for Walker. Through the connections of Rechicher’s internship with Fox Sports Radio 970, they were introduced, and became fast friends. Walker slowly integrated Rechichar in the system, and trusted him with more and more assignments as time went on.
Rechichar had similar faith in his mentor.
“Ray was always just such an honest person,” he said.
Walker was one of the many great people Rechichar met and worked alongside for years.
Working with the Penguin’s has given him many other perks, as well. He says that he has seen lots of amazing things despite his smaller, part-time job.
One of his favorite memories occured about 8 years ago. He was walking outside of the arena, when, suddenly, the crowd started to chant, “USA!” The fans were cheering on Brooks Orpik, a former player, since he was part of the USA Olympics team for that year.
Rechichar is also a witness to sport’s history in the making. He was a part of team when they won the Stanley Cup.
“So, for someone that’s just on a part-time, game night gig, I can’t complain too much. I’ve have see a lot of cool things. Met a lot of great people in the 14 years.”
Rechichar’s main advice to current students is to participate in an internship. He says he believes they are fundamental in finding a job in your major.
He originally hoped for a full-time job with the Radio himself, but when the opportunity struck, it simply was not the right time. It would have interfered with his position at the bank, and with his family time.
Thankfully, he says he is happy with how his career turned out. He is proud of his small part among the Penguin’s Radio team. Not to mention his awesome memories of the job.
“And that’s something I’ll be able to take with me long after, you know, I’m no longer working games for the Penguin’s Radio Network.”
Rechichar’s plan for the future is to mentor an intern of his own, so he can one day be replaced by someone younger and eager to learn. He can show the ropes behind-the-scenes, like the activity in the stadium long before the game has started, and leave the media crew situated.
For now, he is content with where he is.