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Volleyball advocate Peter Ferreri

ferreriPeter Ferreri does a little bit of everything in the world of broadcasting. He often works a seven-day week, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.

On weekends, you can usually find him at wedding receptions as a master of ceremonies, and later in the evening spinning dance tunes–all part of his duties as a DJ …which, he adds, is a job that’s much more difficult than it looks.

Or he’ll likely be out and about in the Chicago area doing remote DJ work for promotional events at Radio Disney Chicago 1300 AM.

But his 9-to-5 job, if there is such a thing in broadcasting, is serving as the regional program director for the Illinois Center for Broadcasting (www.beonair.com)–a trade school that prepares students for careers in radio, television, production and in emerging media. The Illinois Center for Broadcasting is actually part of the Ohio/Illinois Centers for Broadcasting, with locations in Lombard, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus. A new Center for Broadcasting also has just opened up in Miami.

Ferreri oversees two radio two stations–one based out of the Illinois Center for Broadcasting’s Lombard campus and one at the Chicago campus–that you won’t find on either your AM or FM dial. You have to go online to listen. Both are 24-hour full-time operated and run stations with the goal of giving students a better experience than if they were working at a traditional college radio station.

Sportstownchicago.com (Lombard) and Chicagolandsportsradio.com (Chicago) both feature live sports programming throughout the week–anything from prep sports, to Supreme MMA to the Chicago Slaughter indoor football team. Each program also is podcasted for broadcast on portable media players such as iPods. There is full-time staff at both stations, but the shows themselves are run by students or grad students.

But, as Ferreri notes, “I don’t treat them as students; I treat them as interns.”

“We have station advisors that currently work in the industry,” he explains. “For example, my assistant program director at Sportstownchicago (Rick Camp) is a producer at the Score (WSCR-670 AM, the 24-hour all-sports network in Chicago).”

A few years ago, a female student at the Lombard campus who had played high school volleyball expressed interest to Ferreri that she wanted to broadcast a live high school volleyball game. So Ferrari helped set her up to do a broadcast at Mother McAuley High School in Chicago, which his younger sister, Bianca, attended.

That, in turn, got Ferreri’s wheels turning. A volleyball enthusiast himself, Ferreri started wondering if anyone was putting on a high school all-star volleyball game to showcase prep players from across the state. He discovered no such all-star game existed.

“Here’s some of the top athletes in Illinois going on to, you name the university, full-ride scholarships, and they don’t get to have an all-star game or get that showcase,” he said.

So Ferreri took it upon himself to start one. The third annual Illinois High School Girls All-Star Volleyball Game was held this past December at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills. It featured 30 of the state’s top prep players, including West Aurora’s Lauren Carlini–the 2012 Gatorade National Player of the Year who has been featured in Fra Noi.

The all-star game not only showcases the best volleyball players in the state, it also supports a worthy cause: fighting breast cancer. All the proceeds from the 2012 game went to the American Cancer Society, which helped promote the event and used the proceeds to benefit several of its programs. The game was featured in the January, 2013 issue of Volleyball Magazine.

The all-star game has grown over the years to the point where Ferreri is getting more and more sponsors who are sponsoring everything from jerseys to the volleyballs themselves.

“This year we even had the pants that the girls wear donated,” he said.

Ferreri said he’s thrilled to have proceeds from the all-star game going to fight breast cancer, but he’s also enthused about the fact that he’s seen girls who’ve played in the game get scholarship offers.

A case in point: Mary Grassano of St. Ignatius, a two-time all-Girls Catholic Athletic Conference (GCAC) player, didn’t have a scholarship offer. But after competing in the 2011 all-star game her senior year, she got one from Oakland University, an NCAA Division I school located in Rochester, Michigan. Interestingly, Oakland U. had a representative at the game to scout another participant.

“She shined in that game, and now she’s going to college for free,” Ferreri said.

A lot has been happening in Ferreri’s life off the court and outside the studio. He got married in March to his fiancé, Erica Shields, but don’t let Erica’s last name fool you. She’s well acquainted with Italian traditions since Erica’s mother’s maiden name is D’Amico. Food being one of those traditions.

Peter recalls that his and Erica’s families first got together over dinner.

“It’s more so than food,” Peter said. “It creates that environment. No matter what you do during the day, or you could be gone for years and come back. I’ve lived in seven different states throughout my life. Anytime you come home, food is what brings you together. It’s the camaraderie. That’s what you share; that’s the most precious time.”

Needless to say, Ferreri is about as Italian as you can get. The families of both Peter’s mother, Nina–an elementary school teacher in Oak Lawn–and his father, Joe–a retired electrician and a Vietnam veteran–immigrated to the United States from Sicily.

Peter’s maternal grandfather, Anthony Cappellano, owned and originated the Cubby Bear, a sports bar, eatery and music venue, in the 1970s.

About Mike Sandrolini

Mike Sandrolini has been published in the Elmhurst Independent, Voyager Media, the Daily Herald, the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Bear Report. His stories and columns have been recognized for editorial excellence at regional, state and national newspaper contests over the years. He also has co-authored two books: "Bear With Me: A Family History of George Halas and the Chicago Bears" and "All the Good in Sports." His father, Raymond, is a native of Gaggio Montano, a small village around 30 miles southwest of Bologna.