EDITOR’S NOTE: Holly Rowe – ESPN’s tireless reporter and play-by-play commentator – has signed a multiyear deal to stay with the network. Rowe, who joined ESPN on a regular basis in 1998, primarily covers college football, men’s and women’s basketball, softball and gymnastics, as well as the NBA and WNBA. As she heads into her 20th year on the college football sideline, Rowe took time out of her hectic schedule to give an update on her health – as she has battled cancer the last 16 months – and to reflect on the past year of non-stop reporting.

This fall will be my 20-year anniversary on the college football sidelines for ESPN. I can still remember one of my first reports I did about a freshman running back for TCU, LaDainian Tomlinson, getting his first collegiate start, and to think about the amazing career he went on to have.

Lee Fitting, ESPN senior CP, on working with Holly Rowe

“Holly’s energy and year-long dedication to ESPN is a testament to her strength and resiliency all while courageously battling cancer over the last 16 months. She is beloved by her peers, coaches, and athletes that she interacts with daily and her creativity and professionalism on everything she touches shines through on our coverage. We are lucky to have Holly remain with ESPN.”

I literally get all choked up every time I walk out onto the field. How did a curious little girl who loved sports grow up to earn a living as a curious woman who loves sports?

I am so very grateful to ESPN allowing me to be a part of this wonderful sports landscape all these years. I know it is a changing and challenging time so I feel very blessed to continue to do what I love.

My greatest passion is finding compelling stories to share with our viewers. It seems so cliché and yet it’s true. I have never “worked” a day in my life.

I promise to repay and thank my bosses at ESPN for sticking by me during the most difficult year of my life. I don’t take a single moment of this journey for granted.

I am still working on getting rid of this pesky cancer. My treatments continue, but I am living a beautiful and blessed existence. I am so touched by the coaches, players, fans and viewers who have reached out with love, support, and prayers.

I got through this year with my tireless work ethic and continued dedication to reporting on the sports I love. When people ask me why I don’t take time off, I reflect and think, “How could I miss all this?”

In the past year alone some of my work highlights include:

  • First game of the 2016 college football season featuring Texas quarterback Shane Buechele winning the first start of his career in overtime over Notre Dame
  • The most epic WNBA Finals in history as Los Angeles outlasted Minnesota in a thrilling Game 5
  • Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey running wild
  • Washington’s epic run to CFB Playoff
  • First visit to Navy football and Annapolis
  • Witnessing Alabama’ stifling defense
  • Interviewing Clemson wide receiver Hunter Renfrow moments after his last-second touchdown catch to win the national championship
  • Volleyball national title for Stanford in what turned out to be legendary coach John Dunning’s final match
  • The UConn women’s basketball team breaking the win streak record and winning more than 100 consecutive games
  • Kansas guard Frank Mason’s run to National Player of the Year
  • Mississippi State’s Morgan William’s monumental shot to end UConn’s win streak
  • My favorite college player Dawn Staley, grows up to win a national championship as a coach
  • Oklahoma winning the Women’s College World Series
  • Plus gymnastics, softball, NFL and the list goes on …

Navigating this year would not have been possible without my work family on the road each and every week – there so many to name – but know you all mean the world to me. Thank you to all my bosses, producers and colleagues who continue to stand by me. I am truly the luckiest girl in the world.

  • John Grace

    Stay tough! You’re awesome at what you do and you will crush this!