Faces of the Final Four
Play-By-Play Commentator, ESPN
1. Your two worlds – collegiate sports and your hometown – are colliding this April. What do you hope visiting fans take away from their Tampa experience?
I want fans to know that Tampa is hungry for basketball. They will see that the people in the area are equally, if not more, invested in women’s basketball and women’s sports in general. I think it’s great because its a way to showcase my hometown. We’ve had two very successful Women’s Final Fours here before. I believe that the third time around will exceed even those expectations. From the games to the incredible events and programming - we have so many special things to offer. The Tampa Bay Local Organizing Committee has a great vision for bringing sports into the area and making it a holistic experience - and this is one of those trendsetters in my mind.
2. Beyond Barriers recognizes the women that have pushed past limitations and expectations and our theme was “If you see her, you can be her.” Why is mentoring and modeling for today’s young women so important to you?
Mentoring helps show young people the possibilities. Exposure is key to the success of an individual. It gives you a greater look into whatever type of professional you want to be. Also, I believe that for someone to care about your well-being and your next steps in your career means so much because it gives assurance that you are on the right path and are doing the right things. Like, someone believes in me enough to give their time and energy so that I can succeed. It makes what I do purposeful, and I think anyone who is in a position to give back - should. We can only hold that position for so long. You have to bring up those behind you to take over and reach new heights. It’s part of the purpose that I’m walking in and why I’m here. I wouldn’t be where I am without mentors taking the time to show me the way.
3. You’re also helping to lead the charge with Press Pass, our mentoring program for aspiring journalists. What were some of the stand-out qualities you looked for when helping us to select our team of Media Girlz?
What a talented group! I love those who are passionate about what they do and have a focus on what they want. I appreciate that and know that it can be tough to find early on. Also, I looked for those young ladies who asked great questions because they were genuinely wonderful listeners.
We also looked for confidence, which is something that can be tricky because there can be an obvious self-assured individual but also there can be a quiet confidence that you may not see right away.
Lastly - we look for those who are eager to learn and are always seeking to challenge themselves. Those are the hungry learners that find ways to grow!
4. As a play-by-play announcer for ESPN, you’ve seen some of the best college athletes collide both on the field and the court. Why do you feel women’s basketball stands out as such an exciting experience?
Well, women’s basketball is one that is near and dear to my heart because I grew up playing high school basketball. I wanted to go on to the college ranks and maybe one day the WNBA. That wasn’t to be. So for me, my work is something that has allowed me to remain connected to the sport. We know the athleticism and skill will be there but you combine that with a will to win and the execution, it is incredible. We see these women pour their heart and soul into this game and their love translates to those watching. With women’s basketball, you have a combination of team efforts and individual moments that stand out, where you have players that rise to the occasion on the biggest of stages – like Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale did in last year’s championship. It’s hard to rival!
There is also an amazing fan base and atmosphere that displays a passionate level of support for not only their teams but also for the sport in general. At the end of the day - I think it’s the competitive nature, the wonderful talents and abilities we see on the court that are all reasons why we see the women’s game continuing to grow.