As an ESPN summer intern, I never thought I would witness the live production of an international soccer match in person. But opportunities like this was one of the highlights of my 10-week stint with ESPN Communications, which comes to an end this Friday.
Mac Nwulu, associate director of Communications, invited me to attend an International Champions Cup match, Real Madrid versus A.S. Roma at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Being huge soccer fans, fellow ESPN summer intern Cynthia Esqueda and I jumped at the chance to go.
ESPN’s production team provided the “world feed” – or the baseline match coverage – for various networks across the globe.
I arrived at the stadium as ominous clouds and lightning drove fans to take cover. With the help of Paulo Silva, production coordinator, and Laurie Privitera, senior associate producer, I picked up my credentials and met the broadcasting team in the press box.
Severe weather warnings delayed the match until approximately 8:30 p.m. ET, giving the production team an extra 30 minutes to prepare.
The match featured soccer stars such as Gareth Bale, Sergio Ramos, Karim Benzema, and Alessandro Florenzi. Real Madrid scored two early goals (Asensio – 2‘, Bale – 15‘), with A.S. Roma netting a late goal (Kevin Strootman 83’), but Real Madrid held on to win, 2-1.
ESPN’s production team worked closely with Laurie to layer commentary and half-time analysis from the announcers, Jon Champion and Craig Burley, over the visuals. The team worked hard to anticipate commentators’ needs, help fix the television monitor in the booth, and provide sponsorship promotions to announcers throughout the game, especially during water breaks.
Laurie noticed my interest in production and tried to make everything a learning opportunity. Amidst her responsibilities, she explained the system, setup, advertising requirements, strategies, digital bugs, and more.
Near the end of the match, Laurie and I had a chance to discuss her production career in baseball, college basketball, college football, Monday Night Football, soccer and more. She was very gracious in offering advice and encouragement in my career moving forward.
In my time at ESPN, my Communications colleagues have encouraged me to learn about various departments and how they work together. My mentor, manager Tara Chozet, has provided numerous opportunities for me to shadow or meet with employees in many departments.
I have learned so much about the company and the collaboration between departments.