NBA on ESPN Spotlight: ESPN employees who are hard at work bringing you NBA Playoffs (Part 3)

Every week during the 2015 NBA Playoffs, ESPN is spotlighting one of its many dedicated employees who works “behind-the-scenes” to make the NBA on ESPN a success. Today, we catch up with Samantha Vanoni, ESPN production coordinator II. Samantha took some time out of her busy schedule to discuss what she loves about her ESPN NBA job, her favorite moment at work and what a typical game day is like for her.

How would you describe your ESPN NBA job?
A big part of my job is coordinating the NBA personnel schedule, working with the individuals closely so they can plan ahead for a long season. Some days I describe my job as wrangling cats (with) so many moving parts and last minute what-ifs. I enjoy tackling those last minute needs and being a support to anyone that may need assistance. The NBA season being so long, I’m able to build relationships with all levels of personnel. I get to interact with multiple departments – Programming, Sales, Finance, Operations, Travel and more. All together we make a phenomenal team.

What is game day like for you?
When on site, game day starts early. The game day morning meetings bring all of the Production staff and talent together to discuss the day’s game. Once we’re at the arena, more planning happens in terms of getting everyone their credentials, getting everyone to the arena, getting them fed and taking care of any last minute needs before we go on air. As soon as the game starts, it is my time to take a breath. Everything is in motion during the game. Then when the game wraps up, I help coordinate getting everyone back to where they need to be. If at the end of a game day everything logistically goes smoothly, I know I did a good job.

Tim Corrigan, ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer, NBA on Samantha Vanoni

“Sam is just steady. She’s always there with a smiling face and helping hand to guide and mentor the younger people on our staff. She’s passionate about getting things right and she’s really a positive person.”

Who are some of the colleagues that help you get your job done?
This is my ninth year on this project and being part of this ESPN NBA family. We have built such a wonderful team that we all lean on each other for information and advice. I worked in Operations for five years before coming over to Production. While in Operations, my teammates taught me and guided me. Who better to be a teammate with then Eddie Okuno? Also by my side is Annika Ruscoe, we have learned a lot together through the years. Now over on the Production side the team is just as strong, we work hand-in-hand and have solid communication on all levels. That is possible because of the “3Ts” (Tim Corrigan, Tommy McNeeley and Thomas Kintner) who make the work environment welcoming. They are open to ideas and people’s opinions matter.

What’s your best moment at work?
Hands down my favorite moment was during the 2010 NBA Finals, Game 7. It was Celtic-Lakers and the Lakers took it at home in 7. The vibe on site was electrifying. It’s hard to explain, but we all knew we were the best of the best doing what we love to do and being a part of a Game 7 in such a great series was awesome! During The Finals we are always busy with long work days, but for the Game 7, we all took the time to shake hands and give hugs saying what a great season it has been and how proud we were to be working the event. Those memories are my favorite.

What is your favorite part of the NBA Playoffs?
All of the moving parts that need to somehow magically come together to make the best production we can. Staying up late watching the outcome of games, pulling last minute meetings to coordinate with different departments, making sure everyone, and everything, gets to where it needs to be. It’s amazing if you think about it.

Who’s your NBA team?
During this time of the season, I become a fan of whichever team can get us the longest series. I’m always hoping for Game 7s!

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