Scott Russell, BA’80, BEd’81, MA’85, tells stories that inspire pride across the nation. Driven by his extraordinary passion for sport, he shares the triumphs of Canadian athletes from World Cups and Stanley Cups to the Olympic Games. And his first sports desk was at Western.
Scott Russell’s passion for the Olympics started at an early age.
In 1971, the 11-year-old Russell attended a summer camp near Haliburton, Ont. That year the camp organized a mini-Olympics, complete with a torch (kerosene lamp) and cauldron (on the baseball diamond).
As part of the celebration, the camp director quoted Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympiad: “The most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle, the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”
That summer made its mark on Russell. Since then, the broadcast veteran has pursued a self-described “lifelong romance” with the Games. A CBC Sports host, Russell (BA’80, Bed’81, MA’85) has reported from both the Summer and Winter Olympics. Sochi 2014 is his 12th Games.
“One of the hallmarks of CBC’s coverage of Olympic-style sport...is that we don’t just cover Canadians, we also reflect what’s happening in terms of outstanding performance on the part of international athletes,” he said.
“[I’m] not there to be a cheerleader. [I’m] there to tell the story of sport and what happens on the field of play,” added Russell, who has stayed with the CBC for 25 years because it is the “only broadcaster of high-performance sport of record in the country.”
Before even becoming an Olympic broadcaster and sports journalist, Russell had other plans. He attended Western to become a teacher, but taught high school for only a few years because he “didn’t like disciplining kids who had to be in mandatory programs.”
Russell returned to Western, enrolling in the journalism program to pursue a writing career. Few of his classmates were interested in sports journalism, so he made the Western Mustangs his beat for the year.
Out of Western, Russell landed a spot at CBC-TV, working in Charlottetown then Montreal as a sports anchor. In 1995, he became the western Canadian host of Hockey Night in Canada. Eight years later, he started anchoring CBC Sports Weekend, the weekly program featuring Olympic-style amateur sports.
In his career, Russell has excelled in the high-pressure world of live sports broadcasting, bringing a wealth of knowledge and passion to his reporting. He has also reported from Stanley Cup finals to World Cup championship matches, and of course, the Olympic Games.
But it still may be his summer camp experiences, such as competing in a childhood Olympics and meeting hockey great Bobby Orr, that fostered a passion to tell the stories of athletes.
“You grow up at a camp," said Russell. "You learn what is important, you look at the world in a different way."
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