By Luke Galati
Drake’s song and video, Started from the Bottom, is a perfect parallel to describe Anthony Bruno’s new found success.
But, instead of working at Shoppers Drug Mart and becoming a rapper like Drake, Bruno worked at the Longo’s grocery store in his hometown of Woodbridge, Ont., for four years before winning the fifth season of Gillette Drafted, becoming Canada’s next sportscaster at Sportsnet this past Friday at the live season finale.
Bruno, 23, is currently a fourth-year radio and television arts student, making him not only the the first person to win while still in school but the first Ryerson student to win the reality show.
“The thing about Drafted that’s tough, is that you’re doing a job interview in front of the entire country,” he said.
This summer, Bruno was still working part-time, stocking shelves at Longos while Gillette Drafted was being filmed.
He said that everyone at work was supportive on the road to him landing his dream job, which Bruno said he’s wanted since he was 14.
“They were all really happy for me,” he said. “They were all rooting for me.”
Coming out of high school, Bruno knew he wanted to become a sportscaster. So he applied into the radio and television arts (RTA) program at Ryerson, a program which has produced the likes of Fox Sports anchor Jay Onrait, TSN reporter Cabral “Cabbie” Richards, and NBA TV’s J.E. Skeets and Tas Melas.
But Bruno wasn’t accepted into the RTA program on his first try. So he went to York University for two years, taking communications studies. He then applied to Ryerson for a second time, but still no luck.
For Bruno, the third time was the charm and he finally achieved his goal.
When Bruno found out that the show was coming back for a fifth season, he didn’t let past failures hold him back, after being rejected from Gillette Drafted back in season two when he was only 19.
Bruno said that when he auditioned the second time, he felt confident about making the top 24. After waiting for someone from the show to call him with a response, former winner and co-host of the show Matt “Matty D” Drapel told him he was one of the last ones cut before finally telling him he’d be “coming to boot camp.”
“Apparently Matty D did it to everyone, he was trying to punk all of us [the contestants],” said Bruno.
Bruno said that once he made the top 24, at times it was overwhelming because they had so many challenges every week.
The challenges varied from on-camera challenges, with Bruno and the contestants having to do things like analyze who won the NHL draft, discuss which team had the best free agent signing and even breaking down three sports topics in two minutes.
“This competition took over my life because I wanted it so bad,” he said.
Bruno credits much of his success to his experiences at Ryerson and working for Rogers TV’s High School Sports Zone Toronto as a host and colour commentator.
“RTA really taught me a lot, along with my Rogers TV experience,” Bruno said. “Without those two, I don’t think there’s any way I’d win this season.”
Bruno is currently finishing up his last semester at Ryerson before joining the team at Sportsnet in January, where he will take on the one-year contract he earned, along with his one-year spokesperson contract with Gillette Canada.
He’s still unsure what he’s going to be doing this January at the station, but he said that he’d be willing to do anything at this point, just being grateful for the opportunity.
He said that he would like to do on-camera work, doing things like updates and giving commentary with on-air highlight packages.
“If you win, it’s not like all of a sudden you’re the star of the network, you’ve got to work hard and prove yourself, and you’ve got to start from the bottom, right?”
However, one thing is definitely clear.
Bruno started from the bottom of the sports casting world, and now he’s here.