September 02, 2022 – The Salmon Arm Silverbacks of the B.C. Hockey League have recruited Tony Trozzo, KSS class of 2016, to be their Play-by-Play Broadcaster and Communications Coordinator.
Following his days at Kwalikum Secondary School in Qualicum Beach, Tony completed two college programs, first Recreation and Sport Management at Vancouver Island University (VIU), and then majoring in broadcasting in the Radio, Television and Broadcast News program at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary, graduating in 2022.
Tony, like his father, is a diehard Calgary Flames fan. “When I was 5 or 6 years old, I would sit in front of the TV and call the hockey games for my parents. I always had the dream of doing play-by-play and going to broadcasting school.”
While hockey is his passion, Tony didn’t play competitively. Soccer and golf were more accessible, thanks to the opportunities to participate built into high school.
Bringing his broadcasting credentials into the sports arena won’t be a surprise to those who witnessed Tony’s early love of sports and his athletic skills growing up in Qualicum Beach, particularly at golf. “I’ve been golfing since 8 or 9,” recalls Tony. “Our dad brought my older brother and me out to [Qualicum Beach] Memorial [Golf Course] and I just fell in love with the game.”
While in grade 8 — when QB still had a Middle School — Tony was invited to join the KSS Kondors, the high school golf team. “I was blown away,” says Tony, “playing against 18 year-olds! Looking back on it now, I can’t believe that I was doing that. It seems kind of surreal.”
Being accepted on the senior team and able to play under that pressure was in no small part a credit to the leadership of Butch Gayton, the athletics director at KSS, who Tony describes as a “special, one-of-a kind guy.”
During his four years at KSS, Tony and his Kondors golf teammates achieved a remarkable string of BC AA High School Provincial Championships in 2013, 2014 and 2016, broken only by their second place finish in 2015. While at VIU, Tony continued to hone his golf skills with the Mariners in the very competitive PACWEST Conference.
Golf wasn’t all play for Tony, it was also a job.
At age 13 he started in the “back shop” at Memorial, progressing to course maintenance and helping in the Pro Shop. After graduating in 2019 from VIU, Tony turned pro, and became Memorial’s resident Assistant Golf Pro.
Then along came the coronavirus pandemic, throwing a major spanner into any travel plans for professional tournament play. “It was a good run at Memorial. I owe a lot to them for my golf career for sure.” But it was time to evaluate other options.
Learning the ropes, a childhood dream becomes reality
Tony applied to and was accepted by all four broadcasting programs in Canada. He was stoked. Tony chose SAIT in Calgary, which offered an excellent program and was home to his beloved Flames.
Because of pandemic restrictions, his studies starting in September 2020 were initially restricted to remote on-line learning until he could join his classmates in Calgary two months later.
The SAIT program turned out to be an excellent combination of classroom learning plus hands-on practical experience. Tony did broadcasts for SAIT’s soccer and hockey Trojans, working in tandem with a partner providing colour commentary.
For Tony, part of the appeal of being a sportscaster is that “You have to perform by yourself. You’re the one in control of everything.” Not to mention, it’s live sport. There is no script handed to you by a production team.
That need for self-reliance comes natural to Tony. He draws a direct line back to his early days on the golf course. “I never really had a coach. It was all going out at night, practising by myself, watching YouTube videos. If I wanted to get better, I was relying on myself.”
And he loves a challenge. How about doing play-by-play for a soccer tournament of teams and players, most of whom you have never seen in action? Just getting the pronunciation right of the individual player names would be intimidating for most of us.
In 2021, the SAIT Trojans hosted the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) National Championship in men’s soccer. Tony was selected to do the play-by-play — a plum practicum assignment. “That was a phenomenal experience to be chosen to do that. I still can’t believe I called the final – that was pretty special,” said Tony, as he added ‘host broadcaster’ to his credentials.
Nailing it as a broadcaster
To do a broadcast well requires lots of advance preparation. “You’re looking at the rosters. Looking at the stats, for hours and hours,” explains Tony. “I love that aspect of it. I am such a nerd for hockey.”
Those of us who grew up listening to Foster and Bill Hewitt’s Leafs play-by-play or the scintillating energy of Danny Gallivan at the Montreal Forum can recall their thinly veiled ‘homer’ bias. Second Opinion QB asked Tony about the dual responsibility to do objective, unbiased play-by-play while also being responsible for promoting your home team to the community.
Tony says he draws on a couple of role models to guide that balance for him. “One of the best in the business is Rick Ball. He does Flames games; used to do Canucks games as well.”
“Everyone knows he is the Flames commentator, but he does such a good job to put things in a non-homer way,” says Tony. “That is so crucial. You don’t want to lose your audience; you can’t always say everything’s going well.”
Tony continues, “Rick Ball is the guy I have looked up to for a long time because he is so good at drawing that line. Peter Louboudias as well. If I could find a way to mesh their two styles, I would be pretty happy.”
Tony is now busy promoting the team via social media, photos and videos, interviewing players and coaches, and getting to know his new community in Salmon Arm, as the season moves into high gear. Living the dream.
“We are thrilled to be adding Tony to our staff,” said Silverbacks GM Brooks Christensen in a June 2022 media release. “We believe he can help us in taking our fan experience to the next level not only when broadcasting but on social media and community engagement.”
Tony Trozzo’s play-by-play broadcast debut on HockeyTV is the Salmon Arm Silverbacks’ pre-season opener on September 4, 2022.