ESPN reporter Holly Rowe doesn’t put much thought into making her way through a crowded football field or, as she showed last night, jumping on a basketball scorers’ table to conduct post-game interviews. To her, she is doing her job, allowing fans to hear from participants after a big win.
Rowe’s growing reputation of going above and beyond to do her job was solidified Monday night in Manhattan, Kan., as she climbed on a sideline table to interview Kansas State forward Thomas Gipson following the Wildcats’ 85-82 overtime victory over rival Kansas. Did we mention there was purple sea of people engulfing every inch of the hardwood?
Holly Rowe was the MVP of the Kansas State-Kansas game: http://t.co/VpYyNOaOoW
— USA TODAY Sports (@USATODAYsports) February 11, 2014
“These are circumstances that just happen to me in the process of doing my job,” Rowe told Front Row. “It’s the perfect storm of events and they keep popping up around me. Believe me, I didn’t plan last night. I was wearing sky-high red stilettoes that were definitely beautiful, but not practical. Those will not be worn at a game again.”
Adding to the degree of difficulty was the fact that Rowe, due to some equipment changes, didn’t have the usual capability of talking to the production crew via her “talk-back” button.
“Holly had her own earpiece so I could talk to her but she couldn’t communicate back with me on her postgame interview plans,” said Aaron Stojkov, ESPN’s producer of the Big 12 Big Monday telecasts. “We knew she was originally going after an interview with [Kansas State coach] Bruce Weber, but because she couldn’t talk to me off air, we were following her with the high camera to keep track of her.”
From Rowe’s on-court perspective, she was trying to make some room for herself to get to Weber by walking along the scorers’ table. She quickly discovered the Weber had left the floor to avoid the crush. Rowe had no such luxury – the show had to go on for her.
“There was such a crowd of people and I was stuck in the mass,” said Rowe, who works tonight’s Oklahoma State at No. 19 Texas game (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2) with Dave Flemming and Miles Simon. “I wouldn’t have been able to get to the players if it wasn’t for this nice man who grabbed my arms and pulled me out. I climbed the table and tiptoed over the equipment to get to the players. The people along the table were grabbing my hands along the way so I could get to the next, tiny, open space. It was bizarre how everyone treated it like a normal situation.”
Huge thank you to the #KStateMBB folks on scorers table who helped pull me to safety and looked out for me. Kindess so appreciated!
— Holly Rowe (@sportsiren) February 11, 2014
Stojkov followed her on-screen from the production truck as she approached the players and realized her change of plans.
“That is what makes her so good,” he said. “She can assess a situation and quickly change gears. I saw her in position and asked if she was ready. You can hear her say ‘yes’ on air. [Play-by-play man] Brent Musburger threw to her and we captured a very memorable scene. We wouldn’t normally show an interview from a wide camera with the backs of the subjects to the camera, but the picture of the fans in front of the players was amazing.”
Also amazing to Rowe was the reaction by the chivalrous Gipson after concluding the interview.
“Gipson stopping in the middle of everything to ask me if I needed help getting down was the best part,” she said. “These athletes played so hard, they deserve so much praise and attention.”
The game’s color analyst Fran Fraschilla, wasn’t the least bit surprised by Rowe’s table top two-step.
“Holly will go wherever she needs to get a story,” said Fraschilla. “She is the definition of a professional. She’s prepared, does her homework, loves her job and most importantly to me, she has the complete trust and respect of the coaches in the Big 12.”
As for the coach who didn’t brave the court storm?
“I ran into Bruce [Weber] at the Manhattan, Kan., airport today at 5 a.m. as he was heading out for a recruiting trip,” Rowe said. “We had a good laugh about all of it.”
NOTE: Rowe was a guest on today’s Katz Korner on ESPNU (1 p.m.) with Andy Katz. She adds more of her perspective on the Kansas State experience in the video below.