(July 7, 2017) When AJ Ricketts was given the choice between his full-time TV sportscasting job and a seasonal NCAA DI football play-by-play gig, the choice was easy. An STAA member, Ricketts is the new voice of the football program at Florida International University in Miami. He’ll also broadcast select men’s and women’s basketball games, and conduct weekly coach and player interviews.
A graduate of the University of Miami, Ricketts returns to South Florida after 18 months in a full-time sports anchor/reporter role at WECT/FOX in Wilmington, NC.
“I didn’t view [the choice] as full time TV vs. part time play-by-play,” says Ricketts. “I looked at it as simply TV vs. play-by-play, and I’ve always had a tremendous passion for putting on the headset and being a part of a program. And as we all know, play-by-play openings aren’t rolling out every day.
“Adding in the momentum and resources around the program, a coach like Butch Davis who has such a terrific background in the sport, and a respected staff at FIU, this was the ideal transition.”
Ricketts’ play-by-play resume includes an NIT Tournament final in Madison Square Garden and the College World Series in Omaha. At FIU, he follows fellow STAA member and 2016 Jim Nantz Award winner Josh Appel. Appel left FIU after one season to broadcast NFL and major college football for Sports USA Radio Network.
The FIU opportunity was shared exclusively with STAA members. It was not posted on STAA’s public job board.
“When an STAA member leaves a job, we’re often able to notify fellow members of the opening before it becomes public,” says STAA CEO Jon Chelesnik.
“I sent my application in a day after the posting,” adds Ricketts.
Ricketts believes a series of little things throughout the application process earned him the job. “A very personalized cover letter; utilizing established relationships for references; an updated website and reel; a follow up phone call,” says Ricketts. “Doing all these things at the right time is important, but so are the relationships you build and the product you put out over the years before.
“I love a quote JJ Redick told Duke a few years ago. He said, ‘You’ve never arrived. You’re always becoming,'” says Ricketts. “We’re all looking to get better every day. STAA consistently gives us resources to do just that. I always want to keep learning.
“I’m excited to get to FIU, and the STAA email with the posting got this all rolling.”
(Visit AJ’s website.).