Moms go “Back Home” for special SportsCenter segment

Around Independence Day in 2013, ESPN’s #SCFeatured presented “Going Home,” one of its most talked-about and popular segments ever. The feature, which followed members of the U.S. military returning from duty surprising family members in sports venues and at athletic events, reached millions through shares on social media and on following its original airing.

This Sunday, in celebration of Mother’s Day, ESPN’s Features Group and espnW have combined to present “Back Home,” which will follow three women in the military as they reunite with their children. As was the case with “Going Home,” the reunions happen at sporting events, but similarities to the previous feature end there.

“This is a little different approach,” said Sharon Matthews, producer of the feature. “We’re focusing on three stories, and what’s tremendous about this is that you get to meet the people and know that they are just like you and I. I’m overwhelmed with how much admiration I have for them and what they do.”

As Tom Rinaldi reports, the reunions occurred at a University of Wisconsin football game, an NBA Utah Jazz home game and at a middle school gymnasium in San Antonio.

“The piece makes the point that the mothers are in some ways the head coaches of the family,” said Victor Vitarelli, ESPN senior coordinating producer. “And when you have a mom gone from the team, so to speak, it can have an impact on the rest of the team, especially the kids.

“With the piece focusing on three reunions, you really get a sense of the impact that the mother leaving has on these families,” he said. “It’s a nice way to honor and realize how important mothers are on Mother’s Day.”

Matthews said the feature couldn’t have been done without the assistance received from the Maryland Army National Guard, U.S. Army Reserves and the U.S. Army Installation at Fort Dix.

“They jumped over logs and ran through ditches, puddles and dirt in the cold rain for us,” she said.

“Back Home” will debut in the 10 a.m. ET edition of Sunday’s SportsCenter and will re-air in other editions of the program throughout the day.

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