Andi Petrillo adds to growing role of women in sportscasting with Canadian Screen Award

In recognition of her work during the 2015 Pan Am Games, Andi Petrillo was the recipient of a Canadian Screen Award and a brush with history. Becoming the first woman to win an award in the category for best sports host in a sports program or series, the body of work that contributed to such a monumental milestone was the Pan Am Afternoon show. Adding to the jubilation is the fact that there was a unique element of coincidence as the awards ceremony was held on International Women’s Day.

During the 16-day long Pan Am Games event, hosted in Toronto, Petrillo was definitely the glue that held the broadcast together as fans would be eager to see them report on another triumphant day for Canada’s finest on home soil. Not since the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games had a sporting event captivated so many Canadians, capturing their hearts and minds. Petrillo’s presence helped enhance the feeling of national pride as Canada’s home grown athletes enjoyed unprecedented success at the Games.

With the 2016 Rio Summer Games in sight, Petrillo has continued to help build the momentum as Canada’s Olympic Committee works towards its dream of Owning the Podium. In her superlative work with Scott Russell, their collaboration as co-hosts on CBC’s Road to the Olympic Games has resulted in obligatory weekend television sports viewing, adding a human element to the sweat and sacrifice required to compete, and hopefully excel, at the highest levels of competition in the world.

Such a role is fitting for Petrillo as she shall be part of Olympic Games Daytime from Rio de Janeiro with David Amber this summer. Petrillo definitely brings some familiarity with Brazilian sport as she hosted CBC’s coverage for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, also from Brazil. Of note, 2014 definitely marked a year of milestones for her, including Olympic credentials.

During the 2014 Sochi Games, Petrillo hosted overnight coverage, another international event filled with many glories for Canada’s sporting heroes. As Canada hopes for its greatest Summer Games medal haul at Rio, Petrillo may very well be a good-luck charm.

Petrillo first came to prominence as the first woman to be part of CBC’s long running Hockey Night in Canada broadcast team in-studio. As a side note, she is also the first woman to host a daily sports radio talk show (TSN1050’s Leafs Lunch)

Joining the HNIC group in 2011, it was the culmination of former producer Ralph Mellanby’s vision. One of the most deserving candidates for entry into the Hall, Mellanby hired Helen Hutchison in the 1970s, making her the first woman to work with HNIC. Although Hutchison would leave the show, it was a precedent which was fulfilled to greater heights by Petrillo’s impact.

Andi Petrillo breaking barriers as CBC’s daytime host for FIFA World Cup coverage

Traditionally, significant sporting events broadcast on CBC Sports were hosted by male broadcasters. A generation of Canadian sports fans grew up with Brian Williams and Ron McLean hosting Winter and Summer Games, Commonwealth Games and FIFA World Cup events. For the 2014 FIFA World Cup of Soccer, CBC has broken the mold and given the reigns to a female sportscaster.

Andi Petrillo is doing a superlative job as the Daytime Host for CBC television’s coverage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Scott Russell, a host for FIFA 2010 is handling the nighttime coverage. Of note, Petrillo is no stranger to hosting duties. A few months ago, she handled overnight hosting duties for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. Elevating to a much more prestigious assignment this time, it reflects her status as a rising star in sports broadcasting.

To a nation of hockey fans, Petrillo is known as the likeable personality who followed in the trail blazing paths of Helen Hutchison and Brenda Irving as a respected female on the adored yet traditionally male-dominated hockey broadcast. Ironically, Irving is also contributing to CBC Sports during their FIFA coverage.

Along with David Amber, Irving is visiting the main venues throughout Brazil with a series of feature stories. Of note, one piece included a journey on the Amazon River, along with having the courage to let a snake around her neck.

With the CBC offering three live matches of the Group Stage on a daily basis, Petrillo is handling the daytime pre and post game coverage in an anchor’s capacity. Joined in the studio by analysts Nigel Reed and Lloyd Barker, coverage includes previews and reactions to the day’s events. Beaming on the screen with great poise and confidence, Petrillo also shows a strong rapport with her co-hosts.

Taking into account that the match commentaries are going to be handled by announcers from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Petrillo is part of the minimal, yet remarkable Canadian content during World Cup broadcasts. Considering that Canada shall be the host nation of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, it would only be fitting to have Petrillo involved with another prestigious soccer event in her own backyard.

Although Canada has not had an entry in the FIFA World Cup since 1986, when the event was held in Mexico, Canada’s strong cultural mosaic results in an emotional investment for its soccer fans, whose nation of heritage may have a spot in the event. Considering that Petrillo is of European ancestry (Italy to be precise), her role as host results in a strong connection with viewers that may also be classified as “new” Canadians; people whose parents or grandparents immigrated to Canada for a better life.

The other aspect that is quickly making Petrillo a renowned broadcaster is the fact that her presence is a boost to the growing impact of women in Canadian sport. Whether it be Christine Sinclair in soccer, Hayley Wickenheiser in hockey, Eugenie Bouchard in tennis or Tessa Virtue at Sochi, Canadian women are continuing to break many barriers in the traditionally male-dominated realm of sports. With Petrillo in the broadcast booth, it is complementing the athletic impact that is challenging cultural norms and providing a new generation of girls with strong women to admire.