Week 15 in the NFL season: Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos were riding an all-time high as the season’s best storyline after six straight victories, four of which were through game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or in overtime.
As national interest in the second-year quarterback who started the season a backup peaked, ESPN assigned its new, Chicago-based bureau reporter Josina Anderson for on-site reports from Denver for a one-hour live Tim Tebow SportsCenter special on Dec. 14 and updates throughout the week.
Anderson spent Week 15 (Tuesday, Dec. 13, through Saturday, Dec. 17) in Denver reporting news updates and features to a national audience across ESPN programming — SportsCenter, NFL Live, ESPNEWS, First Take on ESPN2, et al.
“This would have been harder if I wasn’t covering the Broncos,” said Anderson, on covering and focusing on Tebow and the Broncos for a week.
“Coming back with six years of being with this team each season, knowing the key players and executives in the organization, made this assignment much easier to handle.”
While the assignment brought Anderson back to Denver where she spent the previous six years (2005 – 2011) covering professional teams and honing her skills as a sports anchor, reporter and producer, it also offered a reassuring glimpse how far she’d come.
“Our bureau reporters, much like every good journalist, must be persistent, have great sources and be able to recognize and tell a good story in a fast-changing environment,” said Jill Frederickson, ESPN senior coordinating producer for the bureaus.
“Josina has been a great fit for the role since she joined us in August.”
In some ways, it seems Anderson was destined for ESPN. She grew up admiring the work of eventual PTI co-hosts Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser.
Coming to ESPN in August 2011, Anderson fulfilled a lifelong career aspiration to be a national sports journalist dating back to 10th grade at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Md., when she first read Wilbon’s Washington Post columns.
It was also in the 10th grade that young Anderson began to focus singularly on her career goal.
She became an announcer for her high school basketball team.
After high school, Anderson attended the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where, as a track and field student-athlete, she competed in the 200- and 400-meters.
She would complete internships with two legendary Washington, D.C., radio shows and personalities: The Tony Kornheiser Show on WTEM and The Donnie Simpson Morning Show on WPGC-FM radio in 1997.
Anderson began her television career as a sports anchor/reporter at the CBS affiliate in Coos Bay, Ore., before a stint back in Washington, D.C., working on local sports cable shows covering the city’s professional teams (Redskins, Wizards and the Mystics), and Georgetown and University of Maryland basketball teams.
At Fox 31 in Denver, she developed a reputation for breaking major national stories in sports: For instance, NFL players testing positive under the league’s steroids policy (October 2008); NFL stars Ricky Williams and Travis Henry testing positive for marijuana (July 2008); Charles Woodson and the Packers reaching an agreement on a contract extension (September 2010).
In addition to breaking major stories, Anderson earned a 2009 Heartland Emmy award for “A Premonition from Addis Ababa,” a story about an Arena Football League quarterback’s voyage to Ethiopia to adopt a son.
“My career path is about self-investment,” she said. “I am willing to fly anywhere to cover an event because there’s always a local connection to any national sporting event.”
Since joining ESPN, Anderson has appeared regularly from game sites on Sunday NFL Countdown in addition to reporting on SportsCenter and other news and information programs.
Note: Sunday, Jan. 1, Josina will be in Oakland, Calif., covering the Chargers at Raiders (on CBS at 4:15 p.m.) season finale for Sunday NFL Countdown, SportsCenter and ESPNEWS.