Bob Beretta: CoSIDA Hall of Fame Class of 2020

By Tim Volkmann RIT Director of Athletic Communications

Bob Beretta, currently Army West Point’s senior associate AD/Strategic Initiatives, has been a non-stop contributor and fixture in the Army West Point Office of the Directorate of Intercollegiate Athletics since 1987.    Photo by Army Athletic Communications

I’m convinced Bob Beretta never sleeps.
It’s true.
What other explanation is there? Looking back at everything he’s crammed into a career that has spanned five decades makes your head spin. Go read his bio on the Army athletics website. It would fill five pages of a media guide.
Beretta’s been at the forefront of an industry that looks nothing like it did when he walked through the gates of the U.S. Military Academy for his first day of work in 1987, helping redefine the role of sports information professionals at the highest levels ever since.
Now Army West Point’s senior associate AD/Strategic Initiatives, Beretta learned a blue-collar work ethic growing up a cannon shot away from West Point in Monroe, New York, before crossing the state to study communications and play baseball at St. Bonaventure. He got his first taste of athletic communications as a sports information intern during his junior and senior years before graduating with a degree in communications (as well as graduating with the Bonnies’ all-time saves record).
He had previously met long-time Army SIDs Bob Kinney and Mady Salvani during a summer internship with the West Point newspaper, The Pointer View, and asked about any potential opportunities with the Black Knights when he returned home. Three months later, Beretta was hired as the department’s first full-time intern. Six months turned into a year and, before he knew it, he was hired as a full-time assistant.
“The hours were long, but whenever I saw 5 o’clock, I wished there were another eight hours in the day. I loved what I was doing. It hardly ever felt like work,” Beretta noted.
That enthusiasm had an immediate effect on the cadet-athletes he worked with.
“Bob arrived at the Academy while I was a cadet,” said 1992 graduate and football player Steve Chaloult. “From the very start, his attitude, energy and presence set him apart from others in his department. Early on, he attacked his day-to-day duties with alacrity and dispatch. Bob was everywhere. He immersed himself in the culture, and it was clear he was destined to succeed at the Academy.”
And succeed he did. Beretta was named director in 1995 upon Kinney’s retirement, becoming the youngest 1-A (now Bowl Championship Series) SID in the nation. Since then, he has been promoted more times than many of the Army luminaries memorialized in bronze around West Point.
Yet, Beretta is quick to deflect all his success to the people he hired.
“I was fortunate to be surrounded by great and talented people that really deserve the credit far more than I do. I was able to bring in really good people who were tremendously gifted and just let them do their work,” Beretta said. “I get credit because I ran the office, but there are some phenomenal people in this field that I was fortunate enough to bring on to our team that made me look good.”
Mark Fratto used a summer internship at Army as a teenager to kick-start a career that’s included working as an SID at Maryland and St. John’s before starting his own multimedia company.
“Whenever I’m asked what it takes to be successful in this field, I think of three characteristics—and they are very Bob Beretta characteristics,” Fratto said. “You have to be an excellent writer—there is no substitution for that. You have to be organized. And you have to be passionate and have an enthusiasm for the work, not just sports, but for the profession. If I’ve been good at anything, professionally, it is because of those things he taught me and the influence he had on my career.”
Beretta hired me in the summer of 2007 to fill one of two vacant positions on his staff. Even though it was my 10th year in the business, I recall feeling somewhat intimidated at first by how driven he was on a daily basis. It was like playing basketball and Larry Bird was your coach. No one played harder or was going to out-work him.
But I can still hear the conversation I had a short time later with my co-worker, Ryan Yanoshak, which really lit a fire.
I remember him saying “Bob wouldn’t have hired you if he didn’t think you could do the work. You are here because he saw something in you that he thought would make this office better.”
From then on, it always felt more like a family than anything else. Whether we were all sitting in the Michie Stadium press box watching the fourth quarter of an Army football game, or sitting on a park bleacher watching Beretta’s daughter, Julia, bobble around the base paths during an eight-year-old tee ball game, he made us feel like we had a home away from home.
“If you work for someone that creates a family environment and a culture of all being together, it makes those stressful, long days a lot easier and a more tolerable,” said Pam Flenke, who spent four years in the Army Athletic Communications office and is currently an assistant commissioner at the Big East. “You are a lot more willing to put in those extra hours for someone you respect and who creates that, ‘we’re all in this together’ kind of environment.”
Beretta will tell you it goes back to how he was raised to follow the Golden Rule. Treat others like you want to be treated.
“I genuinely cared about the people in our office. We spent a lot of time together and I asked an awful lot of them, so I wanted to treat everyone with respect and let them know they were valued,” Beretta said. “We were also very intentional about the people we hired. It was important that we got along and helped each other out because we spent so many hours as a team.”
Beretta’s role in the department grew exponentially through the years while he deftly navigated numerous athletic director changes. Football scheduling, corporate sponsorships, sports supervision, branding, fan relationships, ticketing, fund raising—you name it, he probably did it at one time or another. He even drove the academy’s relationship with the New York Yankees, not only negotiating a series of Army football games played in the Bronx, but later bringing the team he grew up idolizing to West Point for a spring exhibition game opposite the Black Knights in 2013.
“Bob is the most selfless and caring individual that I’ve ever had the opportunity to work alongside,” said Army men’s ice hockey coach Brian Riley, who had a hockey gold-medal winning coach as a father. “He is committed, accountable and a team-first individual—all characteristics he instilled on the lives he has touched during his time at West Point. Most of all, he truly helped mold countless cadet-athletes into the future leaders of our country, a role he takes much pride in.”
Beretta is the definition of hard work without question, but the amazing things we did together and the family he created in the process continue to mean more to him than any award ever will.
Someone named Tracy started in the office the same day I did in 2007 and eight years later, we all celebrated together the day I got to call her my wife (although Mady will take all the credit for that one). When Ryan (Yanoshak) passed away in 2017, our family came together again, this time to grieve.
“The Long Gray line” is a phrase used to describe the continuum of West Point graduates dating back to its founding in 1802 that have gone on to help build our nation. While Bob never had a stripe on his sleeve or a star on his helmet, he has guided their march in more ways than anyone might ever know.
Now if he could just get some sleep.