“Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore) meets Bear Grylls.” That’s how a colleague once described Alyssa in a pitch meeting. Tone down both ends of that comparison by about 20 percent (she’s never climbed into a dead caribou carcass for warmth) and it’s an endearingly aggrandized description of the way in which the Pittsburgh and southwest Florida native approaches journalism: 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. In April 2021, she began traveling again on assignment.
Thanks to her deep curiosity and a coalition of willing, supportive editors, Alyssa’s assignments have taken her to six continents, seven Olympics and countless Super Bowls, college football championships and X Games around the world. In pursuit of stories, she’s hiked to mountaintops in Nepal, driven the sand dunes of the Sahara, surfed in remote regions of Peru and traveled to backyard skateparks in Brazil, soccer stadiums in England and countless living rooms around the U.S.
But it’s her first byline in ESPN The Magazine that likely will remain her most memorable. In a 2002 piece for The Mag, she 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.
A senior writer approaching her 21st year with ESPN in 2023, 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 the adventure-and-music-themed lodge The Outpost, which is located on the north shore of Big Bear Lake, where she spends as much time as possible chasing adventures and riding her dirtbike.
“It’s been a wild ride,” Alyssa says of the past two decades. “And I don’t plan to jump off any time soon. I’m having way too much fun up here.”