“Mary Tyler Moore meets Bear Grylls.” That’s how a colleague once described Alyssa in a pitch meeting. Although she’s never climbed into a dead caribou carcass for warmth, it’s an endearingly aggrandized description of the way in which this east coast native approaches journalism and life: earnestly, with her whole heart and with a “yes-and” willingness to dive into any topic or adventure.
Over a 20-year career at ESPN, Alyssa has edited and written dozens of cover stories for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com, published a book, worked as a sideline reporter for college football, X Games broadcasts and the Global RallyCross series, hosted hour-long specials for ESPN and ABC and served as an in-studio host for X Center and Sports Nation.
In August 2019, after returning home from a six-week stint in Europe covering the Women’s World Cup and Wimbledon, she began reporting a multi-part investigative podcast for ESPN’s 30 for 30 unit along with her reporting partner, Bonnie Ford. When a global pandemic shut down the world, the pair and their producers canceled their remaining travel and went into production on a seven-part deep-dive into how Romanian-born coaches Bela and Martha Karolyi transformed gymnastics in the U.S. — and the price of all that gold. “Heavy Medals” was released in July 2020.
Over the years, Alyssa’s deep curiosity and a coalition of willing, supportive editors, has taken her to more than 30 countries on six continents, seven Olympics and countless Super Bowls, college football championships and X Games around the world. In pursuit of stories, she’s hiked Nepal’s Everest region with the first Nepali women to scale the Seven Summits, surfed with the notorious Bra Boys of Maroubra, Australia, split-boarded in California’s High Sierra with backcountry pioneer Jeremy Jones and traveled to backyard skateparks in Brazil, soccer stadiums in England and countless living rooms around the U.S. In 2015, she became the first American driver to win Morocco’s esteemed Rally Aiche Des Gazelles, known as the largest and toughest all-women’s off-road rally in the world.
But it’s her first byline in ESPN The Magazine that likely will remain her most memorable. In a 2002 piece for The Mag, Alyssa wrote about an idea she coined to explain the bad luck that felled NFL players who graced the cover of the Madden series of video games: She dubbed it The Madden Curse.
Now in her 21st year with ESPN, Alyssa lives in Big Bear Lake, California, with her husband, Billy, and wiener dogs Gonzo (a nod to Hunter S., not the muppet) and Hank (the happiest dog on the planet). She and Billy are co-owners of Big Bear’s adventure-and-music-themed lodge, The Outpost, and spend as much time as possible outside and on their dirt bikes.