Very few can say they grew up to be what they dreamed of as a child; a doctor, a ball player, a teacher or a police officer. Frank Saraceno, Bishop Grimes alumnus, class of 1989 and two-time Emmy winning producer for ESPN’s E:60 has made that dream a reality. He shares, “My father’s dream was to be a radio disc jockey. When he was in the Air Force, he spun records on occasion. Unfortunately, his voice wasn’t what station managers were looking for back then. I followed in his footsteps, but for me, it was all about becoming a sports anchor or a play by play man. As it turned out, I didn’t have the chops to be on the air either.”
During Frank’s senior year at Bishop Grimes, he had a conversation with one of his favorite teachers, Friar John Douglas McMillan. Frank shares, “I didn’t know it at the time, but that one conversation changed my life.” Friar oversaw the school newspaper and encouraged Frank to join when he learned that Frank was thinking of enrolling as a journalism major at St. John Fisher College. Looking back Frank said, “I never forgot that advice. I was horrible and I made a ton of mistakes, but it gave me the bug for doing what I love to do, tell stories.”
After graduating from Bishop Grimes, Frank earned a Bachelor’s degree in Communications-Journalism from St. John Fisher. He interned at News Channel 3 in Syracuse before applying for a production assistant position at ESPN in 1994. Working on shows including SportsCenter and College Gameday, Frank was promoted to an associate producer role in 1998. Three years later, he began working on the acclaimed anthology series SportsCentury for ESPN Classic. It was in this position that Frank won his first Emmy award in 2006. He was also nominated for a Peabody Award for his documentary on Pat Tillman, the NFL Arizona Cardinals player who walked away from a $3.6 million contract to join the military following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
In 2007, Frank began working as a feature producer at ESPN’s E:60, an award-winning Sunday morning sports magazine show. He has worked on major profiles of some of the biggest names in sports, including Mariano Rivera, Marshawn Lynch, and Zeke Elliott. As a feature producer Frank is able to work from beginning to end on a story which can take anywhere from two months to two years to complete. The process includes pitching stories that Frank thinks are worthy to ESPN executives. Once the storyline is approved, Frank and a team research, establish interviews, travel to obtain footage, log and transcribe the material, and finally, edit. He can be working on several stories at a time, and shares, “each time I am always looking ahead to what’s next and I ask myself how can I make this better?.”
In addition to the Emmy’s that Frank has won, he has also won an Edward R. Murrow Award and New York Film Festival Awards. He shares, “I have so much to be grateful for. My job has taken me to all corners of the world. I have covered major events. I have met some incredible people and told their stories. Ultimately though, it’s the relationships I’ve formed over twenty-three plus years, and the incredible friendships that mean more to me than anything I could ever accomplish.”
When looking back on his Bishop Grimes experience Frank still stays in touch with several of his classmates and recalls several great teachers who helped to provide a strong foundation for his future. A three-sport athlete, Frank participated in soccer, basketball, and track as well as extracurricular activities including the Cobra Chronicle and Mystery Players. Franks says, “Discipline was heavily stressed by my teachers and coaches at Grimes. It was expected of me. It became second nature. Discipline is a vital element of my job as a journalist and a storyteller.”
When asked what advice Frank would share with Bishop Grimes’ students, he answered, “What you choose to do with your life is ultimately up to you. Wherever your heart takes you, take pride in the journey. Follow your passion. Be curious. Ask questions. Never stop learning. Do not be afraid to surround yourself with people smarter than you. And more than anything, as the noted philosopher, Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Ask your mom and dad about that one.”
In the 1989 Bishop Grimes yearbook under Frank Saraceno, you will read: “GOALS: Succeed after College.” Success is no stranger to alumnus Frank Saraceno.