Editor’s note: Welcome to “Off Camera with. . .,” a Front Row series that introduces you to some of the studio anchors who have recently joined ESPN. Today we meet Chris Hassel, who joined ESPN in Jan. 2013 as a SportsCenter anchor.
Something we don’t know about you:
On Oct. 26, 2002, I became the first Muscatine (Iowa) High School student to walk out of an ACT test (according to the MHS principal). I was able to complete the “reading” section, before succumbing to the power of sports. Iowa was playing Michigan in football that day, and I simply couldn’t concentrate. I ran out of the building and ran home in time to catch the second half. The Hawks won at “The Big House,” 34-9, and went undefeated in the Big Ten. I made the right call.
My dad got a dog when I left for college (by “left” I mean I went 30 minutes away). Her name is Wrigley. She’s a cocker spaniel. I am one of the biggest dog-lovers of all-time. My wife, Kristin, is quite possibly the only “dog-hater” I’ve ever met. To this day, she hates Wrigley. Kristin tolerates her, and Wrigley tolerates Kristin. It makes for some dysfunctional family get-togethers but I give them both props for getting along.
How did you choose your profession?
I’ve wanted to be a sportscaster since I was 6. Every Sunday in the fall, my dad would turn down the TV for Chicago Bears games and turn up the radio call. I was fascinated by the way Wayne Larrivee described the action. He was my hero – until he jumped ship in 1999 and starting calling (of all things) Green Bay Packers football games. I asked my dad how he could leave the Bears and he said “for the money.” I had no idea sportscasters made money. It was that moment I realized I could make a living doing something I would do for free.
Favorite memories from your ESPN audition:
After hours of interviews and an on-camera audition, I felt pretty good about how I performed — until I looked down and realized something that was supposed to be up, wasn’t. I’m thankful I was still hired despite my wardrobe malfunction. I was nearly done in by a fly.
Favorite sports moment:
It was supposed to be Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS. Now that’s on the other end of the scale. My moment came in 2009. I was covering the Iowa-Michigan State football game in East Lansing. Iowa was 7-0 and ranked sixth in the nation. Iowa was trailing, 13-9 with 0:02 seconds left in the game. Fourth and goal from the MSU 7. I was shooting the game in the back of the end zone. Ricky Stanzi took the snap, two-step drop, slant to Marvin McNutt who was 10 yards in front of me. . . touchdown! Iowa wins, ends up on the cover of Sports Illustrated. . . and wins the national title. Okay, it was the Orange Bowl, but it was one heck of a ride.