GWU alumni finds path in sports media

By Thomas Manning 

“Who you are and what you do are two completely different things. We are not our jobs. Our jobs are not us.” 

At 24 years of age, Gardner-Webb University alum and New Jersey native Brendan Boylan has already built quite the portfolio in his profession. Currently working as a journalist for Saints News Network in association with Sports Illustrated, Boylan has a background in broadcasting for ESPN+, the Big South Network and WGWG radio. Additionally, he has a newly founded production company, Bottom of the Mug Productions. 

Brenden Boylan, GWU Alumni

Boylan’s passion for the world of sports dates back to his early childhood. He was heavily influenced by his father’s love for the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League. It was the Devils’ television broadcaster, Michael “Doc” Emrick, who made an impression on Boylan at a young age, setting him along the trajectory to his current occupation in the industry. 

“When it comes to commentating, I always knew that was something I wanted to do, from the time that I was seven or eight years old. After hearing Emrick, and hearing how excited he made games, I knew I wanted to be that, I knew I wanted to provide that for somebody else,” Boylan said. 

By his junior year at Flowery Branch High School in Georgia, Boylan was commentating football games at his school.  

“Commentary just kind of came as second nature. I knew I wanted to be involved in sports,” Boylan said. “I think that’s one thing that kids forget now. Everybody wants to be the next superstar like Patrick Mahomes or Stephen Curry. And they have to realize that while doesn’t happen to everybody, there are plenty of ways to stay involved in sports in other careers. Whether that be photography, videography, broadcasting. I knew I wanted to stay involved, and I was fortunate enough to have a talent.”

In the summer preceding his freshman year at Gardner-Webb, Boylan was contacted by Ryan Bridges, a Director of Sports Information for multiple sports at the university. He was offered a position on the commentary team, and began broadcasting soccer games for the Big South Network within his first week at GWU. Boylan also partnered with Gardner-Webb’s online streaming radio service, WGWG, from 2014-2018. 

“Brendan was a freshman at the time, and he wanted to do sports commentary on broadcasts,” said Jeff Powell, radio station manager for WGWG. “He was already working with sports information here at Gardner-Webb, and some of the football, basketball, and baseball games were being streamed on WGWG.org, so he just wanted to be a part of it.” 

Powell also mentioned his appreciation for Brendan’s work ethic. 

“I was pretty impressed early on with his prep work. He would spend more time getting studying and researching for the game than it would take to broadcast the game itself,” Powell said. “His willingness, even as a freshman, to jump right into three-hour football broadcasts was quite impressive. Even with some technical difficulties, he would solider right on through it with a great attitude.” 

The following years at Gardner-Webb brought Boylan a great deal of valuable experience, calling games for various sports and developing enriching professional and personal relationships with others in the broadcasting realm. 

As a sophomore at GWU, Boylan found a position with the Saints News Network, an online publication covering the New Orleans Saints. Boylan continued to refine his skills and abilities as a broadcaster, co-hosting a podcast called “D’Professor Speaks” with the late Derek Stephens.

In the 2019 NFL season, Saints News Network became officially affiliated with Sports Illustrated. Boylan has written weekly articles for Saints News for the past year, as well as additional podcast duties. 

“To be able to have my name tied with Sports Illustrated at such a young age – words can’t describe that feeling,” Boylan said.  

The extraordinary events that have transpired across the world in 2020 have made their impact in a variety of circumstances, and Boylan’s life is no different. His entire daily outlook and perspective has evolved. He began to re-evaluate the influence that he might be able to have on the world around him with his talents. This is where the idea of Bottom of the Mug Productions was conceived.  

“I’m more than just a broadcaster. I’m more than just the dude behind the microphone. I can have my hand in a lot. And not just be successful, but make a difference in somebody’s life. I want to change people’s lives or save people’s lives with my work. And this gives me an opportunity to do that beyond work,” Boylan said. 

On Oct. 16, 2020, Bottom of the Mug Productions saw the release of its first feature-length documentary, “The Dancin’ Bulldogs: A 16 Seed’s Journey to the NCAA Tournament.” This documentary tells the story of the 2018-2019 Gardner-Webb University Men’s Basketball team, which reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. Boylan worked on the project as associate producer. The documentary was helmed by Christian Jessup, as director, editor and composer. Thomas Manning contributed as executive producer and first assistant director, along with Eli Hardin as co-writer and second assistant director. 

“This gave me a chance to get back into filmmaking, which is something I previously did in high school, writing and directing documentaries for various contests,” Boylan said. “I’m definitely excited for the next chapter for this production company.” 

Boylan also preached the importance of connecting with one’s audience. 

“When it comes to things you are interested in, there’s always going to be someone else interested in the same thing. There is always going to be an audience. So, find it,” Boylan said. 

While Boylan is uncertain as to what his future holds, he looks forward to each new challenge on the horizon. Boylan is carving out a path that is wholly his own, which is sure to bring more excitement and intrigue. He aims to live by the words of NFL quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who breaks every huddle with the simple phrase, “Be you.” 

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