Famous Madison alumni credits Madison for success

Devan Fink, Online Editor-in-Chief

A Google search for some of Madison’s most famous alumni does not bring up many results. Six names are listed on Wikipedia; three are former Major League Baseball players, one is an actress and one produces a radio show. The last, however, is John Brenkus (’89), a name familiar to sports fans around the world.

In 2007, Brenkus began hosting “Sport Science,” a TV show that now airs on ESPN. The show, which highlights the biggest, fastest and most talented athletes from all sports, is popular among current Madison students, who may have not even have known that it’s host is from Vienna. Brenkus is also known for starting Mr. Madison, a male beauty pageant that is still one of Madison’s most valued traditions.

“I like “Sport Science” because of the way it explains scientifically incredible things that we see in sports,” Patrick Berry (’19) said. “My favorite [episode] was with [Warriors’ shooting guard] Klay Thompson. He shot [the basketball] in the light and in the dark and made the same amount of shots.”

According to Brenkus, the idea behind the show was to combine his love of science and sports. His production company focuses on Sports TV and Science TV, so “the two came together naturally.”
Brenkus has won six Emmys and wrote a New York Times bestselling book, “The Perfection Point.”Despite such success, his roots go all the way back to his love of sports as a child.

“Growing up, the Redskins won three Super Bowls; the Bullets won the NBA Championship, and the Orioles won the World Series,” Brenkus said. “Needless to say, I was raised a huge sports fan.”
James Madison High School, in particular, provided a great foundation for Brenkus to be successful with his career.

“Madison provided me with the opportunity to stretch my abilities academically, which played a huge role in fostering a genuine love for learning,” Brenkus said. “The teachers I had really pushed me to the limit in the best way possible.”

Brenkus left his legacy at Madison in another way, with the creation of Mr. Madison while part of student government during his senior year in 1989.

“I wanted to create an event that would last far beyond my time at Madison,” Brenkus said. “A male beauty pageant seemed like a unique enough event that, if done right, could last a long time.”

But even Brenkus could not imagine its popularity today. In the spring of 2017, SGA will be hosting its 29th Mr. Madison.

“I figured it would go on for at least a few years, but it [has] now been a long time,” Brenkus said. “I hear it’s still a blast. Maybe I’ll be invited to come back some day,” he said.

Even with all his success both at the school and in his professional career, Brenkus’ most fond memories of Madison High School are “the friendships that I made [that] have lasted forever.”