By Nicole Reading
Meet the three young Northeastern alumni who built the sports media tradition at Northeastern.
The Red & Black is full of creative stories and profiles of our Husky athletes, but rarely do we speak of the sports media prowess behind the scenes. Our staff writers, podcast hosts, photographers, editors, and designers work tirelessly to craft the incredible stories you’re flipping through right now. The sports media industry is often misconstrued as glamorous and flashy, but the grind that is sports reporting, journalism, in-game announcing, radio and TV broadcast is a craft that requires extensive practice and dedication.
While The Red & Black is only three years and seven issues old, Northeastern has a proud tradition within the sports media industry. Alex Faust, Class of ‘12, is the television play-by-play voice for the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL. Jason Mastrodonato, Class of ‘11 is the Boston Herald’s lead Red Sox columnist. Rachel Holt, Class of ‘13, is a lifestyle host and reporter for CBS Boston after previously serving as a video host for NESN.
These three young alumni’s rises in their respective careers have helped blaze the trail that The Red & Black was ultimately founded upon. During their time at Northeastern and still to this day, the trio keep tabs on one another, rooting for each other’s success in an uber competitive industry. Three trailblazers, role models and icons that continue to inspire the next generation of sports media professionals.
When Faust, Mastrodonato and Holt came to Northeastern from Brooklyn, NY, Rochester, NY and Princeton, NJ, respectively, none of them ended up studying journalism. Faust majored in political science and economics, Mastrodonato business and Holt communication studies, but none of them were sure what they wanted to do in their post-graduate lives.
The same sentiments echoed through all of their stories. They wanted something more; they wanted to do something that at the end of the day made them happy.
“I was in search of that thing that would make me love what I do,” Holt said.
Inevitably, it wasn’t until the three began exploring their hobbies outside of their academic endeavors that they began to hit their stride. The one constant in their extracurricular interests? They all grew up loving sports.
Faust, Mastrodonato and Holt all grew up participating in the sports world in some capacity. “I played some baseball growing up,” Faust said, “and before you ask, yes, I rooted for the Yankees.”
Holt grew up with two athlete brothers, and whether she liked it or not, sports were simply her life. “I grew up in one of those sports households. Every weekend was a tournament and every weeknight was a practice. I’m not surprised it influenced my career choices,” Holt said.
Mastrodonato might be the ultimate baseball guru. Creating fantasy baseball websites from scratch and basing almost his entire college decision off the walking distance to Fenway Park, he’s a baseball guy through and through.
At the time, fresh into their 20s with no intent of making a career out of it, the three stumbled across the sports media opportunities offered at Northeastern. Faust found himself calling color and play-by-play for WRBB at hockey and basketball games, Mastrodonato covering everything Husky athletics for the Huntington News and Holt reporting on the sideline for everything from women’s volleyball to men’s ice hockey for what is now NUTV.
They each referred to their Northeastern athletics media journey as their “passion project,” “side hustle” or “sense of belonging.” Sports media gave them what academia didn’t: something that made work fun.
The trio recalled their roads to where they are now with fond and not-so-fond memories. But not one of them followed a linear path, because when it comes to the sports media industry, there is no such thing as linear.
Upon graduation, Faust took his Jim Nantz Award, a prestigious honor given to the nation’s best collegiate sportscaster each year, and began working as a data analyst for PricewaterhouseCoopers, thinking he would “go into an industry that I could actually use my [economics] degree in.” But he kept calling games on the side, staying close to home by serving as the voice of the Staten Island Yankees, a minor league baseball club that he’d grown up watching. He covered the American Hockey League on weekends out of Utica, NY and even did a stint as the voice of the Northeastern men’s basketball team. Then, in a stroke of luck in 2017, Faust was handed the call for NBCSN of what turned out to be an electric match-up between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Chicago Blackhawks. Legend has it that Faust’s call of Lightning forward Yanni Gourde’s game-winning goal in overtime sent chills down the spine of one King’s executive. From there, Faust said, “it just took one person believing in my potential, and the rest is history.”
Mastrodonato caught the sports journalism bug a bit earlier, after he did his final co-op at the Boston Globe in his fourth year. From there he freelanced and clawed his way to the top. He worked for MLB.com, covering the Red Sox all the way to the 2013 World Series. Then he shifted to MassLive.com, where he travelled alongside the team for 156 games. He put down roots in his current position at the Boston Herald in 2015.
Holt has a similar tale to Faust, as she found her passion for TV broadcasting following a co-op at Cox Sports in Rhode Island. But contrary to Faust’s “stay close” mentality, Holt took a giant leap and went where the first callback took her: Twin Falls, Idaho. There she learned the intricacies of the industry and gained the repetition she needed as she continued to hone her craft. While in her role in Idaho, Holt was a one-woman show – she found many of her own storylines through in-depth research, wrote most of her own content, and when reporting on-site she was often her own camera-woman.
In 2017, she became a part of the NESN team covering everything from Super Bowls to the Stanley Cup Final. Now working for WBZ-TV, Holt hosts her own Lifestyle show called “New England Living.”
While the road to success has never been easy – Mastrodonato emphasized that being “resilient in the face of rejection” is a prerequisite for the good things that will come later – all three’s roads, however many twists and turns and roadblocks they have had to endure have lead them to a place that they love, that they call home. And the paths that they have forged will help inspire the next generation of Northeastern sports media, just like they’ve inspired us at The Red & Black.