Life after broadcasting

Sagendorf finds new calling

After being forced to retire from broadcasting due to a brain tumor, Naugatuck’s Bob Sagendorf, seen above at right with his longtime friend Chris Berman of ESPN at a fundraiser last year, has found a new calling at the Country Club of Waterbury. –RA ARCHIVE

WATERBURY — When Naugatuck resident and borough hall-of-famer Bob Sagendorf came to grips with his forced retirement from a 36-year broadcasting career due to a brain tumor and the loss of his dulcet voice, he didn’t know what would come next in his life.

“I didn’t want to be that aging athlete who wanted to stick around longer than I should, and I realized that it was time to go,” Sagendorf says. “It was tough because I was basically unemployed. I had 16 job rejections in production, corporate communications, and other jobs that I have experience in. I was going through some trials and tribulations, but luckily I have a great wife, Janet, and my kids and family who didn’t let me get down.”

And then came an opportunity last fall from Tom Gleeton, the course professional at the Country Club of Waterbury. The club wanted some help recruiting new members.

That’s just what Sagendorf did. In fact, he did so well that Gleeton and membership committee Chair Mike Martone offered the 57-year-old Sagendorf a full-time position in the winter.

Since January, Sagendorf has been the director of membership at the Country Club of Waterbury, and he loves every bit of it — even if it came as a surprise to him.

“During my broadcasting career, it’s something I never, ever thought I would get into,” Sagendorf says. “But my family and friends tell me it’s the perfect job. It’s a perfect marriage. I’ve been affiliated with the Country Club of Waterbury for the last 40 years, and it’s really kind of wild that I work here.”

Sagendorf describes himself as a recruiter, trying to sell the 113-year-old country club to perspective members. He tours the 18-hole championship golf course, the four red clay tennis courts, the swimming pool, and clubhouse for those, both young and old, looking to become part of what he calls a “diamond” that people simply don’t know is there.

There are similarities, Sagendorf says, between his new career and his broadcasting career, which took him across the country in stints at CBS Radio Sports and ESPN Radio, the latter of which he helped build from scratch.

“There’s daily interfacing with people,” says Sagendorf, who still consults with WATR and develops the schedule for its high school sports broadcasting. “Instead of talking with people through a microphone, I talk to people face to face, whether it’s on the golf course or at meetings. I’m still in the public eye and dealing with the public, but now I get to do it in person. That just fits my personality.”

Now, he’s about as happy as can be. And while he’s not ruling out another opportunity that might present itself in the future, he says he wouldn’t mind at all if this job is his last.

“Am I looking for anything? No,” Sagendorf says. “I’ve got an office that overlooks a golf course and a great restaurant below my feet. Why would I want to go anywhere from here?”

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