Olivia Pliske

AU student getting jump on her career in sports broadcasting with Cleveland camera crews

Published on June 15, 2023
Ashland University

Ashland University student Olivia Pliske shouldn’t be on track to graduate early.   

She started college during the COVID pandemic, changed her major three times and sometimes skipped classes to go to Cavs and Guardians games.   

Taking College Credit Plus courses in high school helped Pliske overcome switching majors and the COVID pandemic so she can graduate this December in 3 ½ years and really start focusing on her career.   

“Being part of the COVID class has made me want to rush into my career,” said Pliske, who will complete her final semester in the fall with all online courses. “Working excites me.”  

She won’t be working in nursing (her first major) or education (her second) but digital media production, a major where she said her professors allowed her to sometimes work on the camera crews for Cleveland MLB and NBA games instead of going to class.

Olivia Pliske

She actually started focusing on sports broadcasting as a college sophomore when she decided not to split her time anymore with swimming, the major reason she chose to attend AU. Her main events were the 100-yard butterfly and 50 freestyle.   

“I had always been an athlete, but I came to the realization that I could continue my life without athletics,” said Pliske, who also played soccer and softball at Bedford High School. “I decided to focus on my career, and it was the best decision I ever made.”  

That’s when she also realized sports broadcasting was what she was meant to do. Actually, there were all kinds of signs of that before she decided to focus on it.   

During her sophomore year of high school, Pliske was asked on one of the first letters she received from a college what she wanted her major to be.   

“I wrote digital media production,” she said. “It was just kind of meant to be. I’m thankful I found my place at AU.”  

However, when it came time to pick a major for her first year of college at AU, she started with nursing even though her dad was into video production and much of her childhood she went along with him on his film productions.   

Because he had an interest in it, Pliske’s dad often made videos to promote the aquatic center he managed and other areas run by the City of Brecksville.   

“I was running cameras at a young age,” Pliske said. “I was on spotlight when I was 8 and running the audio board when I was 9.”  

And when her family went to pro sports games in Cleveland, Pliske said she always enjoyed watching the people on camera, particularly one guy she often saw at them.   

“He would walk around and put people on the jumbotron, and I said, ‘That’s the job I want,’” she said. “Now I work with him. I told him about that when I started working Guardians’ games.”  

Getting her job with the broadcasting crews of the Guardians and Cavs through Bally Sports was a case of being at the right place at the right time, Pliske said.   

“One day I was in the (AU) newsroom and John (Skrada) heard I was from the Cleveland area and liked sports, and he asked me if I wanted a job,” said Pliske, who was taking most of her AU courses online from home then due to COVID but would be on campus for video productions.   

Skrada, director of broadcasting at AU, coordinates Bally Sports Great Lakes broadcasts of AU football and basketball games, said it was just by chance that one of the people who hires him for professional and college sporting broadcasts called that day looking for a student who lived near downtown Cleveland who was available for Guardians and other pro games.  

“She seemed pretty excited, so I gave her contact information to the crewing company, and they hired her,” Skrada said. 

Skrada said he worked some Cavaliers playoff games with Pliske on the same crew and noticed she worked really hard and did a very good job.  

“She seems to really enjoy working in this field,” Skrada said. “I expect her to move up to more experienced positions in the future. She has the potential to go very far in this business.” 

Mackenzie Pflum and Olivia Pliske

For most AU basketball games Pliske worked for Bally, she was often paired with recent AU graduate Mackenzie Pflum, who did the sideline reports while Pliske worked a camera.   

“We were known as the camera girl and sideline girl on campus,” Pliske said. “It was a ton of fun and sparked our friendship.”  

They hope to someday be paired again in those same roles covering professional sports. They are living together this summer in an apartment in the Cleveland area where they plan to hang all of their credentials for Cleveland sports events on a wall and continue to support each other in the sports broadcasting industry, which can be difficult for females in a male-dominated field.  

“I think we make each other work harder,” Pliske said.  

While Pliske is working on the camera crew for the Guardians, doing everything from a camera operator to a stage manager to a runner, Pflum is at Cleveland sports radio station WKRK, 92.3 FM, also known as The Fan, giving sports news updates throughout the day and supporting the radio station’s show hosts since starting there in April.   

“It’s great to have a friend who is a girl who has your back,” Pflum said. “We’re both very involved in the sports world. That’s nice because we have similar schedules and she’s helped me get so many sports gigs in Cleveland.”  

One of those gigs was a Thursday night Browns game, where Pliske, who worked on the camera crew, helped Pflum get a job of being in charge of a dressing room. 

One of Pliske’s best gigs so far was working at the NBA All-Star Game in Cleveland in 2022. She said she enjoys working NBA and Cavs games the most.  

“The atmosphere with an NBA game is awesome,” Pliske said. “Working NBA games is my life-long dream. 

“I hope next year I will get to work my third NBA season and maybe get to go to some away games,” she added. “I want to do freelance work and travel while I’m young and eventually find a team to work for. I would love to stay with the Cavs or work with another team and experience the world.”  

Olivia Pliske