Even though her alarm goes off at the slightly insane hour of 3:30 a.m. PT, Cari Champion wakes up every day looking forward to going to work. And now she’s assured of continuing that for years to come.
The co-anchor of the 11 a.m. ET “Coast to Coast” edition of SportsCenter, Champion has signed a new, multi-year deal to remain with ESPN. In addition to her SportsCenter duties, Champion also will continue as a contributor to espnW, including her “Be Honest with Cari Champion” podcast.
“The best part of working at ESPN is that outside of stating the obvious that I get to do what I love is that I get to do what I love on so many different platforms,” said Champion, who joined ESPN in September, 2012 as host of First Take and became a SportsCenter anchor in July, 2015.
“Outside of the fact that my 3:30 a.m. wakeup call really is brutal, I absolutely do love what I do,” she said. “Anybody I work with will tell you that. I’m very much aggressive with how I approach topics, with how I want news on our air, how I’m excited about what we do, and I also just want it to be done in the best way possible.
“Every day you come to work and you have a choice – I can be just okay or I can be excellent. I just want to be great every day and I want to be able to watch people be great every day.
“I think most people don’t consider themselves artists but what we do is art,” she said. “And when you’re at your best, you’re creative and you’re challenging yourself and you’re asking different questions, and you’re stretching your skill set. I get an opportunity to do that every day.”
The midday SportsCenter took on a bi-coastal format on April 5, with co-anchor David Lloyd in ESPN’s Bristol, Ct., studios as usual but Champion doing the show from ESPN’s Los Angeles Production Center (LAPC). The move west allowed Champion, a native of Pasadena, Calif., to essentially go “home” for her job.
“David is one of the most generous anchors I’ve ever met or had the opportunity to work with,” she said. “Every single day he makes it easier, and that’s rare.
“Behind the scenes we have a really good staff that wants to work really hard, and it just fits,” she said. “We all work together, and it’s just been a really wonderful experience for me. I love it. We’re really happy about what we’re doing. We’re not quite where we want to be but we’re getting there and it’s a definitely a beautiful work in progress.”