Walsh and Weinstein flex their reporting muscles in advance of weekend SportsCenter

SportsCenter anchor Sara Walsh visiting her alma mater, North Florida.

(Photo courtesy Sara Walsh)
(Photo courtesy Sara Walsh)
Northern Iowa Not Inferior

While his co-anchor was cruising down the lazy river in Jacksonville, Bram Weinstein was busy in Cedar Falls reporting on the nationally-ranked and no-longer-a-surprise Northern Iowa Panthers.

“The confidence in Cedar Falls is off the charts,” Weinstein said. “The fans and team know that America doesn’t know how good they are. And they like it that way. I’m not sure Cinderella fits here, they’ll be a high seed [ranked No. 10/11 in latest polls] but they don’t mind you not knowing how good they are. The fans we talked to don’t think they are some kind of fairy tale team.”

After spending time with the players and fans, Weinstein attempted to tackle the “Panther-Fried Omelet” at a local restaurant [see Photo No. 7 in gallery]. It’s opportunities to get out from behind the desk and into the field, that Weinstein has gobbled up in recent months.

“I’ve been waiting for years for this ball to get rolling – where we take SC on the road,” he said. “I love being out with the teams and fans seeing the country and learning about what makes our sports towns tick. I can’t wait to see where the road takes me next.”

As SportsCenter anchor tandems go, it’s tough to find a duo enjoying the last several months more than weekend morning anchors Sara Walsh and Bram Weinstein. Whether in-studio with cardboard cutouts or on the road in Tallahassee, Fla., Walsh and Weinstein bring their chemistry and charisma to every show.

This week, before meeting back up in Bristol, Conn. for their Saturday and Sunday shows, each veteran anchor travelled to report on two teams already in the NCAA Tournament. Walsh had a homecoming of sorts, going to the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, where she was a soccer standout; while Weinstein voyaged to the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls (see sidebar below). The resulting feature stories will run this weekend on SportsCenter.

For Walsh, the Ospreys first-ever trip to the Tournament afforded her the chance to stroll down memory lane – and float down the school’s on-campus lazy river. Yes, you read that right.

“It’s an incredible moment watching your team get into the big dance for the first time,” said Walsh, who donned Osprey gear on-air last weekend. “I was watching the game from my home in Connecticut with bags packed and running shoes on, because as soon as that clock hit zero I had a flight to catch to Jacksonville to cover the reaction and I was literally running through the terminal to make the flight.”

The assignment became a bit more involved when the viral sensation Stephen Putnam was added to the list of people to see at UNF. Walsh took care of that assignment on Monday and then focused on the fan and student reaction.

“Being back on campus, covering the Ospreys for ESPN was surreal,” Walsh said. “Almost two decades ago I was just a kid playing soccer for UNF with the goal of one day working for ESPN. It was definitely a full-circle moment for me getting to be back and cover this team for our network.

“I can’t tell you how much it means to everyone at that University that ESPN was on campus and one of their own was the one holding the mic,” she said. “Just having the Ospreys be a part of the March Madness is such a special opportunity. We had so many students, athletes, broadcast majors and even the local news stop by as we were doing interviews all over campus that day. I told the players I’ll be hosting SportsCenter from the Final Four, and we’d love nothing more for them to join me there. No pressure.”

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