Viewers expect ESPN analysts to share first-hand knowledge of athletic prowess and the intense life-long training it takes to win at a championship level. What might surprise fans are the athletic accomplishments of the faces behind the camera, equally shaping the viewing experience.
Meet Starlyn Schwartz.
A gymnast at Southeast Missouri State, Schwartz contributed to the team appearing in two NCAA Regionals. She is currently a lead content editor for ESPNU and SEC Network. The 2016 NCAA Gymnastics Championships air on ESPNU today (2 and 8 p.m. ET) and Saturday (9 p.m.) from Fort Worth, Texas.
Over the last five years at ESPN, she has worked on everything from football to baseball. However, it is staying involved in the sport of gymnastics that has made her career a dream come true.
“Once you’re done, you’re done. It’s not like tennis or basketball where you can go pick it up and play around with it,” she said. “It’s a hard reality to face for a gymnast deciding what you want to do with the rest of your life when your whole life was dedicated to this.”
That experience works to ESPN’s advantage as well, bringing an authenticity to the network’s growing coverage of gymnastics.
“It’s all about making it to the NCAA championship, it’s the end game,” she said. “So being able to cut SEC Championship meets and NCAA Championship meets is so exciting, because for me, I know what those girls are feeling. That’s fun for me, to work on it, but also feel like I’m a part of it.”
ESPN carried 31 regular-season meets across its networks this year. ESPNU will produce the NCAA Gymnastics Championships live, for the first time, this weekend. ESPN is rolling out live individual apparatus streams, a new scoring interface, and new graphics around its most robust schedule of gymnastics to date.
“Now viewers can look forward to watching this captivating and amazing sport every week,” Schwartz said. “I can’t say enough about how physically and mentally tough gymnastics is, and for viewers to get a glimpse of that life, helps keep the sport growing and respected. Continued coverage of gymnastics will only help propel the sport onto a higher platform and bring audiences closer to this world by getting to know and admire these athletes, just like they do football or basketball players.”
Alex Duckenfield contributed to this post.