Photo Credit: Jordan Cicchelli
“Bo Bichette joins a frat. Bro Bichette.”
That tweet, sent out on July 21 by Jordan Cicchelli, took the internet by storm. It generated thousands of replies and retweets. It was featured on MLB.com and SportsCentre, it became a Twitter Moment and made its way across the Atlantic Ocean. It put Jordan Cicchelli on the map.
“It was absolutely insane,” said Cicchelli. “It was one of those stupid tweets that you don’t think will do anything — like I was with my mom giggling when I sent it — but then it picked up and was going crazy. Then it became a Twitter Moment and I was freaking out because I have followers in the UK and they were like, ‘Even here it’s trending.’ The next night MLB.com posted their article on it and then Marissa Roberto of TSN Digital SportsCentre did a little thing about the tweet which is funny because I was freaking out about that too and now I work with her.”
Cicchelli graduated from Brock with a Bachelors in Sport Management in 2019. Roughly a year later, she is working for BarDown, TSN’s sports and pop-culture site that has hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.
“They found me because of a tweet I had,” said Cicchelli. “They reached out, I talked to them and my now-boss was like, ‘I like what you do, come try out and see if you like it,’ and I’ve been with them since July now.”
A Toronto native, Cicchelli looked at other sport-business programs like Laurentian’s Sports Administration program, but settled on Brock because of the softball team, where she played catcher during her freshman year. She would ultimately step away from the team after that season, citing the need to focus on both the academic and social parts of her life. Though she would eventually begin post-graduate studies in Sport Journalism at Centennial College, she says she didn’t even consider the media side of sport until her third year at Brock.
“Here’s the thing with SPMA — I loved it, but with SPMA you usually think of more business jobs,” said Cicchelli. “I didn’t think of media at all and then in third year, I really like Sam Ponder (host of Sunday Night Countdown for ESPN), I like everything she does, so I was like, ‘Maybe I like that side of sports.’ I didn’t really like the business stuff, so I did a minor in media studies and then in my final semester at Brock I thought I should do some BrockTV stuff, but obviously they didn’t want someone who was leaving in three months. That’s the best piece of advice I can give is try to do things outside of SPMA because there’s not many media opportunities through the program.”
During her fourth year, she interned with Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) through the SPMA program, in the Community Programming department.
While at MLSE she was able to job-shadow Angela Su, a producer for LeafsTV and got to see firsthand how she was able to stay completely in control during production.
“Seeing how in control she was and how she had her shit together I was like, ‘Okay, I kind of like this, I can see myself also being that,’” said Cicchelli. “Literally since then I’ve been like, ‘Okay I’m doing this.’ I want to be a producer, something along the lines of that work, behind the scenes. Then I applied to Centennial shortly after.”
It was at Centennial where she met Hayley McGoldrick, who would soon become her co-host in addition to a close friend. The two began a podcast this past May, called “Ball Girls”, where they discuss, as Cicchelli puts it, “whatever we want.”
The podcast began as many of them often do — after being called out by a professor and summoned to his office after class.
“We always would talk in class and get in trouble for it,” said Cicchelli. “One day our professor was like ‘You two. After class,’ and we were like, ‘Oh god,’ but he said that we should do a podcast together. Doing a pod was actually part of the program, so we had been thinking about it since January and once I gained a bit of a following we were like, ‘Okay we should do this.’”
They released episodes regularly until October, when both Cicchelli and McGoldrick put the podcast on pause to focus on their respective jobs (McGoldrick began writing about the WNBA for Sportsnet). Cicchelli says they don’t know when they’ll begin season two, but the hope is very soon.
Cicchelli now has over 14,000 followers on Twitter — an account she created back in January.
“I had a regular Twitter account that I used to spam boy bands with while at Brock but that account got deactivated because if you signed up when you were like 12 years old, they’ll delete it because you’re ‘underage.’ So don’t change your birthday on Twitter that’s my main advice because I lost like 5,000 followers from that. I stopped using Twitter after that because I was mad that had happened, but then with the [Centennial] program they said we needed a Twitter account for one of our classes. I think I had like 200 followers when the project ended and then the next week I had a viral tweet and gained 1,000 followers within a day.
The aforementioned viral tweet was one of many tweets Cicchelli has had about the trials and tribulations of being a woman working in sport.
“The first one was some guy slid in my DMs and was like, ‘Oh you did sport management, let me quiz you. Who won the 2019 World Series.’ He gave me multiple choice questions too and I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ So I put that on Twitter and people went nuts,” she said.
Cicchelli and McGoldrick share many more examples of tiresome DMs on their podcast, where Cicchelli points out that she still receives trivia questions every so often.
“Thank god, the guys I’ve worked with in class are very good with women in sport now,” said Cicchelli. “At the beginning of my program at Centennial, the guys would be like, ‘Oh you like the Browns, is it because of Baker Mayfield, you think he’s cute?’ But they’ve shut up since then. A lot of it is on Twitter, a lot of stupid opinions. This one guy was saying that women are only in sport to hook up with athletes and I called him out on it. Like you think women are going to school and spending all this money just to hook up with an athlete, really?”
She says that the majority of her followers are fellow women working in the industry, as well as fans of the Cleveland Browns, her favourite NFL team. Cicchelli got into football and the Browns thanks to her dad, who according to Cicchelli, has childhood images of her dad watching Browns games ingrained in her head.
“Three or four years ago I thought maybe I should spend time with my dad watching games and see what it’s about. Slowly I got more and more into it and now a lot of my friends from the US are fellow Browns fans.”
Along with football, Cicchelli’s other go-to sport is baseball and through Centennial, she and some classmates were able to go down to Florida this past March to attend and work at Spring Training. Not only was she stuck in Florida when the world effectively shut down at the beginning of the pandemic, but she was actually at the final Spring Training game before MLB hit pause.
“I believe it was the Braves and Tigers, I believe that was the last game before it got shut down,” she said. “We had a meeting on the Friday that was like, ‘Hey we’re not going back to school next week but maybe in two weeks we’ll be back.’ Kind of funny now looking back on it.”
“We did a bit of online stuff in April, and then had a break until September when they went back to in-person class. I’m still not comfortable going back into class with so many people so I deferred to next year, but then I ended up getting [BarDown] so now I’m not sure if I’m going to go back or not.”
Cicchelli says her role at BarDown consists of a little bit of everything at the moment.
“They’re kind of seeing what I can do best, so I’ve done graphic design, I just released my first written story with them, but it’s really just social content creation. They have me trying out different roles, so last week I did graphic design and that was more like a 9-5 deal and now I get to do freelance work with CTV, so that’s like three hours a day. Even this week I’ll work 7-3 writing one day, but then some days I’m completely off.”
Cicchelli says that while the opportunity to go on-camera is there, her preference is to stay behind it.
“The podcast is one thing because it’s just talking to my best friend and is kind of an our-parents-will-see-it sort of thing, but I don’t see myself going on camera at all, it’s not really for me,” said Cicchelli.
“Each day of my job is different, which I kind of like.”
You can follow Jordan on Twitter at @jordancicchelli, as well as the Ball Girls Pod at @BallGirlsPod. The podcast is available for download on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts from.