Perrysburg High School guidance counselor Rick Rettig encourages students to pursue their dreams.
That advice is not simply the appropriate thing to say to young and impressionable minds seeking direction for their futures, it s what Rettig truly believes.
In fact, over the past few months Rettig has been serving as a case study to his students when it comes to pursuing career dreams. Rettig is spending this weekend in New York competing as one of 35 semifinalists for ESPN s Dream Job contest that will award the winner a one-year, on-air contract with ESPN s SportsCenter.
Not that he hasn t thoroughly enjoyed the past 10 years working in education, but Rettig can see himself working in Bristol, Conn., where the all-sports network is based. Working as a sports broadcaster has always been Rettig s dream job.
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“It s more than just a dream; I think it s something that I was meant to do,” Rettig said this week.
The contest to find the next Dan Patrick, Linda Cohn or Stuart Scott drew more than 10,000 entrants nationally.
Rettig, who found out about the contest while watching ESPN, has survived two rounds of competition to reach the semifinals. He first competed in an opening round of auditions in Detroit a few weeks ago. Nearly 400 participated, and only a handful were called back to attend the Midwest regional semifinals in Chicago.
Rettig, one of only two Ohioans invited to New York, is giving all he s got for a chance to work in front of the camera as a sports announcer for the most recognized sports network in the world. The expenses to attend each round, including this weekend in New York, have come out of his pocket.
Clearly, he s committed to making his dream come true.
“This might get me back into the career I ve always wanted,” Rettig said. “We re going full-bore with this. We re planning to give it 100 percent.”
His wife Katie is pregnant with twins, yet with her full approval he s ready to take an unpaid leave of absence from his guidance job to spend a year working as a broadcaster on ESPN. The fact that salary and housing for the winner have not been discussed are not concerns for Rettig.
“There are a lot of positions available for guidance counselors, but not too many positions are available to anchor SportsCenter,” Rettig said.
Rettig attended Bowling Green State University from 1988 to 1993. He went from majoring in radio, TV and film to earning a degree in education/communication. He worked alongside former ESPN broadcaster Jason Jackson on BGSU s radio station, WBGU, calling the action for Falcon athletic contests.
The contestants have been asked to read aloud sports-related scripts and write their own material. They ve also been quizzed to gauge their level of sports knowledge. So far Rettig has waltzed through each round with confidence.
“I watch ESPN all the time and I m kind of a sports junkie,” he admitted.
Furthermore, Rettig is no stranger to the kind of format set up for ESPN s Dream Job. As the faculty supervisor for Perrysburg s speech and debate team, Rettig is familiar with what he believes ESPN officials are looking for.
Rettig, who just turned 34, considers his years of experience, as a speech and debate coach and judge, invaluable in this quest.
“I always tell the kids that in getting a job they need to know how to present themselves. Basically, I think [speech and debate] gives me a leg up on the competition. It s taught me how to be a professional. I always had the ability to perform, but I didn t always know how to be professional.”
The winner of the Dream Job contest will not be determined until 2004. The competition in New York actually leads to a Big Brother/Survivor-like weekly series airing on ESPN starting in February. Approximately a dozen of the semifinalists will be named finalists and will take part in the TV series that will require them to live together in a house until the winner is determined.
As a semifinalist, Rettig will appear on at least the first show that will detail the competition among the semifinalists. His intention is to appear on every show right up to when he s declared the winner.
Yet Rettig understands that spending a year in Bristol working alongside the likes of Patrick, Cohn and Scott is not a given.
“I m not going to say it won t be disappointing [not winning], but coming back to the life I have is by no means disappointing.
“I already have a pretty good life.”