Daniella Ponticelli was just beginning to get into sports when she was watching a Women’s Flat Track Derby Association playoff game and heard two women broadcasting the match. That was the moment when Ponticelli decided she wanted to start doing play-by-play. Two years later, she was on the call for WFTDA playoff games.
“I was surprised that there were women on the call,” Ponticelli says. “I hadn’t really been exposed to that before. Something in me clicked and there was a moment where I said to myself, ‘I want to do that.’ I don’t know why that thought came to me, but that put the wheels in motion.”
At the time, Ponticelli had already graduated from college with a journalism degree. She never intended pursuing sports media while in school, but that began to change after she joined a roller derby league in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Having worked in broadcast media and being comfortable in front of a microphone, Ponticelli was asked to do in-house announcing at the rink and she made quite the impression. When the team traveled to Philadelphia for an All-Star event, Ponticelli was asked to make the trip and do play-by-play for the team.
These days, you can hear Ponticelli doing play-by-play for the University of Saskatchewan women’s ice hockey team, along with Katie Brickman, for the 2021–22 season. Ponticelli and Brickman are a part of a broadcast team with Pattison Media, the first private broadcast company to commit to broadcasting a full season of games for a college women’s ice hockey team in Canada.
“We are thrilled to be working so closely with the University of Saskatchewan Athletic Department,” says Wray Morrison, HuskieFAN senior producer/host and partnership coordinator with Pattinson Media. “These athletes deserve big crowds, lots of scholarship opportunities, and plenty of media attention. To give major coverage to players that rightfully deserve it is very rewarding. The caliber of play in women’s hockey is fantastic and it would be great to see other university women’s programs in Canada receive this type of exposure.”
Morrison also believes that Ponticelli is a great fit for the position with her broadcasting talent and her ability to excite the fans.
“Sometimes I am overwhelmed thinking about the trust I have been given to take on this role,” Ponticelli says. “This season isn’t the first step, but it is the next step to bringing more people into the sports broadcasting world. This is something that is new for them and it’s new for me as well.”
With any new job comes new challenges, but Ponticelli is no stranger to change. Originally from Cape Town, South Africa, Ponticelli and her family made the move to Winnipeg, Manitoba when she was 10 years old. When they arrived in Winnipeg, there was a local TV news crew present to interview the family.
“I still remember the reporter’s name, Jennifer Rattray,” Ponticelli says. “She interviewed us and I thought it was the coolest thing.”
As fate would have it, 15 years after that interview, Ponticelli would get a job at the same station Rattray worked at. Ponticelli dug through the station’s archives and found the footage of her and her family arriving in Winnipeg.
Being interviewed by Rattray as a 10-year-old marked the beginning of Ponticelli’s journalism career, similar to how watching that WFTDA playoff game marked the beginning of her sports broadcasting career.
After doing play-by-play for the All-Stars event in Philadelphia, Ponticelli had officially caught the sports bug, eventually taking a position covering Saskatchewan Rush Lacrosse, despite being unfamiliar with the sport. But she learned quickly and continued to work as a sideline reporter for the Rush until the beginning of the COVD-19 pandemic.
Since getting into sports media, Ponticelli has had to work full-time in news while simultaneously doing broadcasting part-time. Spending much of 2020 and ‘21 reporting on the pandemic, Ponticelli eagerly waited for the day she could return to the arena and resume her passion.
With the wait now over, Ponticelli is excited to see what is in store for her future in broadcasting, but she knows it’s important to reflect on how she got to where she is. She hopes one day, a young woman may hear her calling a Huskies game, and she too may realize that it’s possible for her.
“I think of that moment during the WFTDA playoff game when I saw somebody in that role who I could relate to,” Ponticelli says. “It showed me that this was totally possible and that I have a path there.”
Michael Rosen is a contributor for GoodSport, a media company dedicated to raising the visibility of women and girls in sports.
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