SC Featured storytelling showcase returns to SportsCenter on Sunday

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Coming soon from SC Featured: Mendota (Calif.) HS football

On Feb. 16, “SC Featured” will continue its unique storytelling and appear across multiple platforms with the incredible story of a high school football team in Mendota, Calif.

The Mendota team, whose players work all day in the agricultural fields around the impoverished immigrant town, has become a high school football powerhouse with the help of its transformational coach.

The “SC Featured” Mendota story will debut on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” at 9 a.m. ET that day, with the story expanded into a one-hour “SC Featured” special at 11 a.m. on ESPN2. “SportsCenter,”, ESPN Deportes and ABC News are also scheduled to have versions of the story.[/box]

SportsCenter’s own premiere storytelling brand SC Featured, which brings unique and compelling feature material to viewers of ESPN’s flagship news and information program, returns to the Sunday editions on Feb. 9. The SC Featured brand, which debuted in 2013, presents personalities and subjects ranging from dramatic to quirky, from touching to comedic, with the series airing on SportsCenter during the months of the NFL offseason.

The first SC Featured of the 2014 season is the story of Nick Pugliese, an American who found an opportunity to continue his soccer career in an unlikely place: Afghanistan’s pro soccer league. Learn more about this feature – including riveting behind-the-scenes footage — Thursday on Front Row. Victor Vitarelli, senior coordinating producer in ESPN’s Features Unit, talks to Front Row about SC Featured’s return:

What was the basic idea of creating the SC Featured brand?
We were looking to support SportsCenter and give it its own storytelling brand. The stories we’re producing are really no different than the features we produced in the past under really no brand or banner, they were just a weekly piece [the features unit supplied] when there wasn’t NFL. We’re branding those stories now and we’re developing ways to promote them. SportsCenter is doing a great job promoting them on shows to try to build and establish this brand.

How do you choose the stories you do?
We get a lot of story ideas submitted from within the Unit, but we also get ideas from a lot of different departments outside of the Features Unit. We have a process by which we vet through all ideas. You do as much research and background as possible before you start to put resources and dollars to an idea, but at some point it’s always a bit of a leap of faith that the story’s going to pan out the way you hope it will.

Are you happy with the way the first year went?
In less than a year, the SC Featured brand has evolved from a feature brand into a monthly one-hour show. We have also spun the Featured brand itself off into hour-long shows. For instance, College GameDay Featured and we did a Russell Wilson Featured where we took all the Russell Wilson pieces and put them under the Featured brand. Both Production and Programming have really embraced the concept. It has far exceeded my expectations.

ESPN Features Unit's Victor Vitarelli discusses SC Featured return.
ESPN Features Unit’s Victor Vitarelli discusses the development of the “SC Featured” storytelling brand. (ESPN)
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