As a founding employee of ESPN, Rosa Gatti is certainly no stranger to the sports scene. But actually, she says she stumbled into the athletic arena, graduating from Villanova in 1972 and accepting a temporary job in the school's sports-information office.
"I was one of the very few women covering football — it was a major decision at that time to put a woman in charge of covering teams," Gatti, recently honored by her peers with the College Sports Information Directors' Keith Jackson Eternal Flame Award, recalled.
She moved quickly through the SID ranks, becoming Villanova's assistant SID in 1973 and full SID in 1974, then later departing for Brown University.
More recently, she moved up at ESPN, to senior vice president of corporate communications and outreach, adding community and investor-relations duties to her plate. She has the background: an SID handles press relations, marketing and community outreach for a variety of sports. Her arrival at the network in 1980 was also serendipity.
"ESPN was televising the NCAA men's hockey championship, which Brown was hosting," she recalled. Based on her thoroughness in providing support for the event, ESPN producers recommended Gatti to then-network president Chet Simmons. In vetting the job, she contacted Chris "Boomer" Berman, whom she knew from his days at Brown.'s student radio station. "He said ESPN was a great place with good people."
When not keeping an eye on the world of sports, Gatti watches movies or spends time with family and friends.