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For almost two decades now, Andi Petrillo has been drawing out genuine responses from some of the most stoic and decorated athletes on our screens.Photo illustration The Globe and Mail. Source photo Leon Bennett/Getty Images/Getty Images

Andi Petrillo doesn’t like to make people cry, but when Christine Sinclair began to tear up during an interview on CBC last week, a few days before she played her final game for Canada, the moment was well earned. For almost two decades now, Petrillo has been drawing out genuine responses like that from some of the most stoic and decorated athletes on our screens, in the process earning her own set of accolades, including three Canadian Screen Awards (CSA) as best sports host on TV. Since hanging up the mic as host of TSN’s daily Leafs Lunch program two years ago, life is a lot more manageable: She’s got only two jobs now, as a host on OneSoccer and CBC Sports. It can still get stressful, but it sure beats teaching piano to kids.

When were you happiest?

Happiness for me is in the beginning, when hope is at its highest, you don’t really know what’s in store. Maybe you’re not jaded yet. Oftentimes we just pine for youth and sometimes the naiveté that comes with that, because you don’t know what you don’t know. And sometimes that can be quite blissful.

Is there a trait that defines you?

Hard-working, dedicated, someone who’s reliable. If I’ve said I’m going to be on your team, I’m going to be on your team.

What is the least favourite trait you have?

I think it’s that I don’t sometimes know how to say no, because I am a functioning stress-aholic. So, often times I say: I can take on that load, I can do it. To the point, though, where I don’t realize all these other things are being affected, right? Maybe sometimes I’m not spending as much time with my family and friends as I could. Maybe I’m not taking that time for myself.

On what occasions do you lie?

I would say I used to lie to my husband about what I would spend on things, but now I don’t care if he knows what I spend. So I don’t even lie about that any more.

What is your greatest achievement?

The first thing that would come to mind would be my CSAs, and I think it’s because I’m the first woman to win the sports award, and now I’ve done it three times and I continue to be the only one. But I think the reason why that’s an achievement is because I’ve had young girls come up to me and now say that they know they can do this because I’ve done it. And that means a lot to me.

Do you have a greatest regret?

I don’t think I do. That’s not to say I haven’t made mistakes along the way, but I truly do have the mindset that everything happens for a reason. And if I regret something, you wallow in it and I feel you get stuck in it. I refuse to do that in life. So I acknowledge mistakes and I learn from them, but I always feel like I’m where I’m meant to be. I mean, do I wish I bought a certain purse back when it was on sale? Sure. But, like, life regrets? No.

What’s your favourite hair colour you’ve had?

So, when I grew up, I just had an obsession with red hair. I made my mother, when I was younger, go and buy me a red wig. Maybe I watched that movie Red Sonja and just thought, Oh, I want red hair so badly, I would love that beautiful auburn kind of strawberry. Then in my mid-twenties, I think, I went and dyed my hair red, and just discovered, heartbreakingly, it did not go with my skin tone. So I guess for me, I’m just blonde.

Your IG profile says you talk sports for a living but really you just want to talk about your dogs. Please, go ahead.

Pepper is an angel. She is a mama’s girl. She’s the perfect cuddler. She knows exactly what nook to get into in your body to cuddle. And Ginger? Well, the thing is, we were fooled by Pepper. So we thought, ‘Oh, we’ll get another one who will be the same.’ And I think if Pepper dropped from the sky, from Heaven, Ginger came out of a hole in the ground. But we love her to death. She’s the wild one who makes us laugh every day. My husband [former TFC goalie Jon Conway] also does a lot of travel for work, so they’re truly my ultimate companions. I just don’t know where people find joy if they don’t have pets in their life.

What are their breeds?

Pepper is a cavapoo – a cavalier King Charles spaniel and poodle – and Ginger is a bordoodle – a border collie and poodle. I think the collie is what makes her crazy.

I understand you play piano?

I started playing when I was seven, and I ended up taking it right up to Grade 2 theory, which is pretty high up. I taught piano for a while and then I realized I just have no patience for students, so I just didn’t get into the world of teaching.

Is there a piece that you find yourself playing a lot?

When I was young, I was so proud of myself for mastering a lot of the songs from The Phantom of the Opera, but I love playing Terms of Endearment. It’s this melancholy kind of tune, yet it makes you feel good, and whenever my grandmother would come over to visit – sadly now, she doesn’t move much – she always wanted to hear that song. So I just find myself gravitating towards it.

Do you have a favourite author?

I love Philippa Gregory. She writes a lot about the monarchy, from centuries back, it’s kind of a combination of fiction and non-fiction. I really find the monarchy fascinating. Not so much present day, but back when the monarchy actually ruled places.

Is there a historical figure you would most like to meet?

Oh, it’s got to be Cleopatra and Queen Elizabeth I, who ruled one of the longest monarchies until the most recent one passed away. And Cleopatra was a very important figure during the most turbulent of times between Greece and Rome. I would love to know how they did it. I would love to know how they stayed in power. I’d love to know their struggles. I’d love to know what they dealt with. Those two are just completely fascinating to me.

Do you have a favourite possession?

No. I’m a purger. Unlike my husband, who drives me completely crazy by being a semi-hoarder. I probably purge two or three times a year, and I do so without any kind of reservation. It’s like: gone, gone, gone, gone! I don’t hold on to things. I mean, other than jewellery, which has been passed down or gifted to me. I have a gold ring that my grandparents gave me for a birthday present one year and I cherish that, I hold on to that dearly.

What frustrates you about other people?

I’m most frustrated by people who complain about things in life or their situation in life yet don’t do anything about it. It could be anything: Their weight, yet I don’t see them doing things like changing their diet or working out. Or they complain about their situation at work, yet I don’t see them either working harder or going to a superior to say, Hey, I’m interested in doing this. Maybe it’s because I’m a go-getter, but I just hate when people don’t do anything to make themselves better, or they expect other people to read their minds on what they want in life.

What or who is your greatest love?

My husband. I mean, other than my first ever pet, Lola, my shih tzu. I’d wanted a dog ever since I was three or four and I finally got her at the age of 16. But my husband is somebody who I just connect with on a completely different level. To me, he’s my ultimate teammate, as well.

Who in your life calls you Andria?

My family, when they’re upset with me. Ever since I was a little girl, my family called me Andi. That was my nickname. And I remember them being a little heartbroken – I don’t know if that’s the word – when I decided to go on air with ‘Andi,’ because they always felt like that was their nickname for me: ‘Our little Andi.’ And they didn’t really want me to share that with everyone else. So yeah, now Andria is strictly reserved for when somebody needs to get serious with me.

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