As a student at James Madison High in Vienna, Brenkus ran track and cross-country and played football, "but I was never amazing at any of it. That set the tone for my appreciation of greatness. I knew my place."
He did want to leave a legacy, though. As school secretary in 1989, he created "Mr. Madison," a pageant-dance that necessitated coming up with a cast, props and lights. "I was essentially executive producer," he says. "Believe it or not, it's still going today." He pauses. "And I knew then I kind of wanted to be in entertainment."
Brenkus might not have broken any athletic records at Madison, but he was named "Biggest Flirt," a dubious distinction he tries to turn to his advantage. "Flirting is another word, I believe, for networking," he says. "Being able to be friends with a lot of people."
At the University of Virginia, Brenkus created his own major -- Film and Rhetoric Communications -- and graduated with honors in 3 years.
Brenkus isn't just the host and "human crash-test dummy" of "Sport Science," although, for a kid from Vienna with no previous on-air aspirations or experience, it isn't a bad gig. Brenkus is also the co-creator and co-owner.
And not just of "Sport Science." Brenkus and his business partner and brother-in-law Mickey Stern, joint chief executives of BASE Productions, have more than 10 programs in play at any given time, including the SyFy Channel's "Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files," which each week sends a team to investigate video evidence of rumored dubiousness (UFOs, ghosts, Bigfoot, the moon landing); the National Geographic Channel's CGI-illustrated guide "Known Universe," which explores Earth's deepest oceans as well as deepest outer space; and Animal Planet's study of three Montana ranchers, "Last American Cowboy."
In 2003, BASE was brought in to shepherd a show called "XMA: Xtreme Martial Arts," another offering from the Discovery Channel. "XMA" possessed what would become the hallmarks of BASE's shows: blisteringly fast editing, visually chaotic photography, up-tempo electronic music, live-action and CGI animation.
The series spawned 2006's "Fight Science: Calculating the Ultimate Warrior," which emphasized more of the science than the fighting, on the National Geographic channel. After it did well on Nat Geo and sister network Fox, "we immediately pitched the spinoff, applying the same visual style and scientific approach to all mainstream sports," Stern says.
And that was "Sport Science."