A few years ago when she was a junior at the University of Georgia, volleyball player Maria Taylor filled out a questionnaire for the school’s athletic website. One of the questions was “what would be your dream job?”
Taylor’s response: “ESPN sports journalist.”
Flash forward to New Year’s Day, 2013, and Taylor will be doing just that as she works as a sideline reporter for ESPN’s live telecast of the Discover Orange Bowl in Miami (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). The Alpharetta, Ga., native is completing her first year with ESPN/ABC at one of the oldest and most revered college football bowl games.
What made her want to go from being a three-time All-SEC outside hitter on the volleyball court to asking questions on TV?
“We had a crew come in and do a game on us and we’d only been on TV like maybe once or twice,” Taylor said. “I had to sit down and do this interview with one of the analysts and I just thought it was the coolest thing ever.
“From that moment on, I changed what I wanted to do and decided that I wanted to work in sports broadcasting. I thought it would be an interesting job, to still be able to communicate with athletes, and be around the sports I love and the people, so that’s when it really started.”
Taylor will be working the Florida State-Northern Illinois matchup with announcer Joe Tessitore and analyst Matt Millen. The Orange Bowl is part of the Bowl Championship Series and the fact that Taylor — who served as a sideline reporter for ABC afternoon games this season — was tapped by ESPN to work the telecast in her first year is significant.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “I was really shocked when I found out I had a BCS game. I love football so I’ve been watching it for a long time, growing up with Georgia football, and I know how important BCS bowl games are, just what it means to the players and the coaches to be able to make it here and what an accomplishment it is.
“So just even to be associated with the crew that’s getting the opportunity to cover it is so important to me and near and dear to my heart. When I found out about it I really thought they were kidding.”