The Edgemont School Foundation will present ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro with the foundation’s annual Distinguished Alumni Award Nov. 8.
“This is obviously a huge honor,” Pitaro, 49, told the Inquirer. “My years at Edgemont were some of the best years of my life. I have such positive memories about the school and community.”
Pitaro, a member of the EHS class of ’87, moved from White Plains to Edgemont with his parents, Anthony and Lucille, and his sister, Lara, when he was 5 years old and began his Edgemont School District journey at Greenville Elementary School before heading to Edgemont Junior/Senior High School.
Pitaro, who became president of the sports media giant in March, is no stranger to athletics. While at EHS, he played basketball, baseball, football and ran track.
He said he formed “lifelong friendships” while being an Edgemont Panther.
In addition to those friendships, Pitaro also recalled “the incredible support” he got from the teachers, the coaches, his guidance counselor, as well as the principal.
“I always felt [they were] paying attention to me,” he said.
After graduating from EHS, Pitaro went to Cornell University and later received his law degree from St. John’s Law School in 1994.
He practiced law in New York City for several years before working in executive positions at Yahoo Sports and Disney, ESPN’s parent company. Disney promoted him to ESPN president March 5.
“Jimmy’s appointment was the result of more than 20 years spent at the intersection of technology, sports and media,” said Walt Disney CEO and chairman Bob Iger.
According to Pitaro, his time at Edgemont High School taught him two things that helped prepare him for his role as head of the largest sports media company in the world.
First is the importance of a strong work ethic. “To do well at Edgemont you need to apply yourself,” said Pitaro. “You can’t just skate by.”
The second lesson is “doing the right thing,” he said. “There is a long focus on integrity in that school.”
Pitaro continued, “I’d say just this idea of focusing on the greater good and focusing on the team and not yourself has served me well … at ESPN. The idea of joining ESPN; you check your ego at the door and you focus on the team.”
The ESPN president said there are “lots of similarities between the culture at ESPN and the culture at Edgemont High School.”
Asked how’s he adjusting to his first six months at ESPN, Pitaro said, “It’s going really well,” adding his time at Yahoo Sports and Disney allowed him to create relationships with his ESPN team members and executives in various sports leagues.
He recalled the day he learned of his promotion to ESPN, an announcement that brought out emotional responses from his family.
“The first person I called was my wife and the second person I called was my dad. They both cried because they knew how badly I want it,” he said.
Pitaro said his family is a “sports family.” His dad Anthony used to attend wrestling matches at EHS even though Pitaro never wrestled a day in his life. His father received an honorary award from the team during Pitaro’s senior year.
In addition, Pitaro’s sister Lara works as general counsel for Major League Baseball Advanced Media.
Pitaro had some advice to share for Edgemont students.
“Figure out and follow your passion,” he said. “Don’t be paralyzed by indecision. If you have an opportunity and you can get in the door, don’t let inertia control you.”