The sound of a ringing phone brought Ben Bobick out of his slumber. On the other end was Mr. John Strom, Steel Valley High School principal, with a simple question: Was Bobick ready to come home and give the commencement address at his alma mater?
“I was woken up from a nap, so I thought I was still dreaming,” Bobick said in an interview. “I always thought in my line of work and where I was going, I was hopefully looking forward to that day that they would honor me and be able to do it. It was almost a surprise that it happened so quickly. I was just so overcome, and I took a few minutes to realize that this is actually happening.”
A 2012 graduate of Steel Valley, Bobick is a sports anchor and reporter for WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee. While at Steel Valley, Bobick graduated with a 4.04 GPA and was a four-year letterman in golf, soccer and baseball, served as the senior class president, was the 2012 National Honor Society Student of the Year, and received the William V. Campbell Scholar Athlete Award.
It was a sign of the work ethic that carried him through college, where he juggled classes and career opportunities with immersion in campus culture. And it was a sign of his drive to succeed in broadcasting. After graduation from Penn State University, Bobick took on multiple roles at WSNN-TV and the Suncoast News Network in Sarasota, Florida. He worked as a sports multimedia journalist but also served as the anchor and executive producer of “Morning Edition”, the station’s live weekday broadcast. He joined WRCB in 2018.
Bobick referenced the willingness to work repeatedly in his speech to the Class of 2022. Steel Valley kids are “built different,” he said, and it all starts with that work ethic.
“You just put your head down and you work, because it’s all going to figure itself out in the end,” Bobick said in his speech. “You’re not going to figure it out overnight. And you’re going to fail, multiple times. But it’s all part of the process. It’s how you come back that drives you.”
The opportunity to return to his alma mater and speak to the Class of 2022 also reminded Bobick of why he treasures being a "Steel Valley kid."
“I think that's the best part about this place - you could go off and do these things like I was able to do and come back and it was like I never, ever left,” he said. “It was kind of pick up where I left off with a lot of teachers, a lot of family, friends and everything. And it was just really, really awesome to be here and see it.”
The commencement speech wasn’t the first time Bobick was able to share a little knowledge with Steel Valley students. Earlier in the spring, he offered some tips and tricks to Mrs. MacDonald’s English Language Arts classes on how to put together news stories about the novel “Hatchet” by Gary Paulson. Students used a green screen and took on various roles as news directors, news reporters and as characters from the novel.
“That was excellent. When I got the message to help out, it was a no-brainer,” Bobick said. “The fact that they were able to that kind of a different project – I hope they do it again next year. The technology they have in the green screen to do the video, I didn’t have that. We were still popping in a VHS from time to time. I loved seeing the quality of it and the great job they did.”
The traditions, the favorite spots, the people – much of it is still the same. Some familiar faces have a few more gray hairs, while others have growing families, but it’s still home. And that is why being invited back to speak at commencement meant so much to Bobick – it was a chance to give a small piece back to the community that shaped him.
No matter where his travels take him, Ben Bobick will always be a Steel Valley kid – built different.