Shadow on the Sidelines

As a writer, I hide behind my keyboard. When I deliver a story, it doesn’t matter what my hair looks like, if I’ve showered that day (or in two days), or if I’m writing it while still in my PJs and slippers. That all ends Thursday night. In my first on-camera gig, I’m working the sidelines of the North Carolina State-Cincinnati college football game as part of our ESPN 3D broadcast. Me! In 3D!

It’s an amazing opportunity to learn the TV ropes as part of an incredible crew … but with only a tiny fraction of the viewers. Hopefully, if it goes well, this will lead to more work in front of the camera.

TV?! I think someone gave me the wrong credential!

Last week, I got my first taste of what it’s like to report a game from the sidelines, at the LSU-Mississippi State game in Starkville. I attended my first production meeting, met the folks I will be working with throughout the season and talked football with my new “team” Dave LaMont, Tim Brown and David Diaz-Infante. I loved every second of it.

For the first half of the game, I shadowed David, who was so kind and generous with his time and knowledge. Who knew a TV microphone has a button on it that allows you to talk directly to your producer? Or that you wear noise-cancelling earbuds during the game, so you can hear your analyst and play-by-play announcer instead of the stadium noise? (That took some time to get used to.) Or that you should always bring a jacket to the game, even when the forecast is calling for an 80-degree night? I do, now.

You can't see me, but that's me being David's sideline shadow.

For the second half of the game, I shadowed my friend and all-around college football sideline badass Jenn Brown, to whom I now owe my first born. In two quarters of football, she taught me so much about what the job of sideline reporter really entails. They contribute so much to the broadcast that the viewer never sees. And it was neat to see that firsthand. She went above and beyond to help teach me the ropes and get me prepared for my first game this week.

Wish me luck!

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