Behind The ScenesESPNU

Despite cancer battle, Rowe contributes to ESPN’s softball #MAYhem coverage

College Softball Featured airs tonight at 5 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
College Softball Featured airs tonight at 5 p.m. ET on ESPNU.

Holly Rowe is on-the-go 12 months a year covering a plethora of sports for ESPN. One of Rowe’s busiest – and her personal favorite – times of the year is #MAYhem, the month-long duty of covering college softball’s conference tournaments followed by the NCAA Division I Softball Championship which concludes in Oklahoma City with the Women’s College World Series.

Holly Rowe (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)
Holly Rowe
(Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

This year, however, as she battles cancer, Rowe is following from afar for college softball’s final month, but remains an integral part of ESPN’s industry-leading coverage.

“I am very grateful to coordinating producer Meg Aronowitz for putting a system in place that allows me to be a part of the team even though I am home going through cancer treatment,” said Rowe from Los Angeles.

In addition to participating in coaches’ conference calls and production meetings, Rowe has narrated two-to-three-minute softball features which have been used previously in game telecasts. Now, with the sport’s pinnacle event on the horizon, Aronowitz – along with content associate Mary Chaudoin, pre-editor Chase Thompson and associate producer David Dobson – has packaged the Rowe-narrated features into a 30-minute special, College Softball Featured, airing throughout the month on ESPNU.

“Over the past few months, I would get up in the morning and work on a feature; sending scripts and photos,” Rowe said. “Once finalized, I have a high-quality microphone that plugs into my IPad so I can voice the features sitting in my kitchen.

I do this in the morning before I go get my chemo treatment. It has lifted my spirits so much and kept me going, pushing toward something I love — telling stories!
– Holly Rowe

“I do this in the morning before I go get my chemo treatment,” she said. “It has lifted my spirits so much and kept me going, pushing toward something I love — telling stories!”

The ESPNU presentation includes a look at the Florida Gators’ budding dynasty with their back-to-back national championships, the geographic shift in the sport and the Romero sisters of Michigan and Oklahoma.

“We have wanted to tell the stories behind the game of softball for years and this gives us another outlet to continue what we started at espnW.com,” Rowe said. “I hope people will enjoy watching our show and learning more about the wonderful athletes and coaches as they push toward the Women’s College World Series.”

While viewers will surely love – and learn from – the stories, the passion project has served as an elixir for the narrator.

“It has lifted my spirits so much and kept me going,” said Rowe.

Tune in tonight at 5 p.m. ET for College Softball Featured on ESPNU – for all scheduled airings visit here.

#Rally4Rowe

With Holly Rowe missing the SEC Tournament last week, many of her colleagues sported wristbands with “Rally4Rowe” on them as a sign of support.

“Our producer Mandy Cohen and I wanted to give something to our team that would be a subtle way to show Holly we love her and miss her,” said Aronowitz. “I had the wristbands made prior to the SEC Tournament and handed them out to the entire crew. Initially, it was really just meant for our ESPN softball crew to show our support for Holly, but it caught on and some of the coaches asked for the wristbands. It was another way our softball family is showing support and love for our colleague.”

“It is very special,” Rowe said. “I didn’t know about it so it was a very sweet surprise! I was home watching every pitch and hope to get back out there with them soon!”

ESPNU debuts new show leading into the DI Softball Championship

ESPNU also will debut a second new show leading into the NCAA Division I Softball Championship: Road to the Women’s College World Series, which first airs today at 1 p.m.

Beth Mowins will anchor and be joined by softball analysts Amanda Scarborough and Michele Smith who will further discuss the regional action, including the strength and weakness of specific teams and matchups. The analysts will predict how the tournament could unfold throughout the month, including specific team’s paths to get to Oklahoma City, the home of the Women’s College World Series. Student-athletes are expected to join the show.

All airings of Road to the Women’s College World Series schedule on ESPNU:

Date Time (ET)
May 16 1 p.m.
May 16 5:30 p.m.
May 18 9 a.m.
May 18 10 p.m.
May 19 10:30 p.m.
May 20 1:30 p.m.
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