Ryan McKenna knew he wanted to be a sports broadcaster since his days in elementary school. A decade later, this dream is becoming a reality.
McKenna, a third-year journalism student and Ryerson Rams broadcaster from Central Bedeque, P.E.I., is heading to Sochi in March to cover sledge hockey at the Winter Paralympic Games for the International Paralympics Committee (IPC).
“I’ve always had the passion for sports, and to have the chance to mix sports and broadcasting together, that’s an ideal career for me,” says McKenna.
It was his application to be a reporter for the World Junior Curling Championship, also in Russia, that brought the opportunity to broadcast sledge hockey for the IPC.
While McKenna didn’t get the curling reporting position, he did get a gig writing for the IPC, and after months contributing to its website, McKenna says the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be their reporter in Sochi came knocking at his door.
“Back in 2010 when Sidney Crosby scored the golden goal, never in my wildest dreams would I think that I would be in the next location for the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” says McKenna.
“It’s one of those things where you have to make the most of it. I’m going to have to work really hard but I’m going to make sure I enjoy it, too.”
Although McKenna isn’t heading to Sochi until next March, he says he is still writing and producing features.
One topic of particular interest is Russia’s history with hockey.
“Back in 2010, (Russia) didn’t even have (a sledge hockey) program, and yet (now) they’re ranked in the world’s top three,” he says.
“Russia has the resources and a rich hockey history to begin with, so the resources are going to be there. They’re going to be up there with Canada and the U.S. competing for the gold medal.”
Canada has reached the podium three times in the sport’s history, grabbing bronze in 1994, silver in 1998 and gold in 2006.
McKenna says Canada is favoured to bring home a medal in next year’s games, but results are often unpredictable.
“Canada and the U.S. are right there together, but you have teams like Russia who will be very dominant and you never know because there could be that underdog team (that could surprise everyone),” he says.
“On the other hand, the Czech Republic and Norway are the older teams, so they will have experience (on their side).”
The Rams’ play-by-play man isn’t really sure what Sochi even looks like, what the weather’s like or how he’ll handle the nine-hour time difference, but he is certain that this experience will be invaluable in his journey to finding a broadcasting career upon his eventual graduation.
This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on September 18, 2013.