KALAMAZOO — As if being professional athletes wasn’t enough of an adventure, brothers Bates and Anthony Battaglia wanted to flex their athletic muscles in another way: by trying out to be contestants on the CBS reality show The Amazing Race. They were chosen to appear on the show and were one of 11 teams that took off last night for a race around the world on the show’s most recent season premiere.
Both Bates and his younger brother Anthony played professional hockey. Bates spent nine seasons in the NHL playing primarily for the Carolina Hurricanes. Anthony, Western Michigan University hockey alum, also spent a season (2008-09) playing for the Kalamazoo Wings. Bates has since retired and co-owns Lucky B’s, the “classiest dive bar in Raleigh,” according to their website. Anthony currently plays for the Huntsville Havoc of the SPHL.
“Just being the athletes and competitors that we are, watching the show, we thought we could absolutely do it, so why not try out?” Anthony said. His brother Bates echoed his sentiments. “Absolutely the competitive aspect. When we are not playing hockey, we are out playing volleyball, golf … we are always doing something,” Bates said.
Heading into the race, the brothers used their knowledge from the show’s past seasons to help them hopefully hold an advantage over their competition.
“Watching past seasons, we got hints on cab rides, making sure we got the right drivers, making sure they had gas in their cars. Stuff like that,” Anthony said.
Bates added that they watched old shows to learn the tricks of the trade. “That way we were less surprised by anything and would be ready for whatever they would throw at us,” he said.
The duo hoped to use their hockey experience on the race, as well. “Going into it, we thought it could give us an advantage because, in hockey, the situations are never the same,” Bates said. “You play in different cities against different people, and you have to be prepared for anything.”
The brothers said the race was harder than it looks on TV, including on their bodies.
“It is tough on your body,” Bates said. “It is so much harder than you think. Your body definitely feels it.”
“Expect the unexpected” is a key phrase on another CBS reality show, Big Brother, but it was the unknown that the brothers feared on The Amazing Race. “Going into it, we were scared for the things we couldn’t control, like running into taxi drivers that didn’t speak English or crappy cars, running out of gas, things like that,” Bates said.
Anthony was afraid that the exposure of the race might land him on another TV show. “I’m scared we are going to get on The Soup with Joel McHale and have him make fun of me,” he said. The Soup is a weekly show on the E! Network that pokes fun at talk show, reality TV, and other forms of pop culture.
While we won’t know whether the Battaglia brothers were eliminated or won the $1 million grand prize, one thing is for sure: The Amazing Race left an impact on both of them. “I took away knowing what I can accomplish when being pushed to my limits,” Anthony said. Bates remarked, “I took away knowing that we don’t like to fail and that, if we do, we can brush it off and keep moving.”
Playing for the Havoc, Anthony was reunited with a former K-Wing teammate, Glenn Detulleo, who is now the head coach of the team. Detulleo said that, based on what he knew of the younger Battaglia, he was at first shocked to hear that he was going to be on the show. “I did play with ‘Tags’ in Kalamazoo,” Detulleo said. “He’s a pretty quiet guy, so I was a little surprised, but after hearing it was a partnership with his brother, I thought it made perfect sense.”
The Havoc held a watch party for the premier episode last night following their game against the Mississippi Surge. Battaglia scored the game-tying goal and the Havoc went on to win the game in the shootout. Detulleo noted that he and the players were looking forward to watching the show and said that he expects the players to start ribbing Anthony, now that the first episode is out of the way. As for Detulleo himself, he is hoping to see a new side to Anthony. “I’m looking forward to seeing him get rattled or blow up a little,” Detulleo said. “He’s usually so quiet, so it would be very entertaining.”
Anthony and his brother finished second in the premiere last night.
The Amazing Race can be seen every Sunday evening at 8 on CBS. If you missed last night’s episode, www.cbs.com usually posts already-aired episodes on their website.