Courtney Lyle is a play-by-play Swiss Army knife, calling college volleyball, soccer, women’s basketball, softball, and more across ESPN networks.
She made history on Saturday, Oct. 24, becoming the fourth woman to call play-by-play for ESPN’s college football coverage. She and analyst Rene Ingoglia called the Georgia Southern at No. 25 Coastal Carolina on ESPNU that day. Lyle joins Pam Ward, Beth Mowins, and Tiffany Greene in reaching the career milestone, which has been more than a decade in the making.
First football game: 2005 First CFB game: 2020
Hard work makes anything possible! pic.twitter.com/iy59vHQakW
— Courtney Lyle (@sportney_lyle) October 25, 2020
Tonight on ESPN at 8 ET, she and analyst Dustin Fox are on the call for Akron-Kent State “#MACtion” college football from the Mid-American Conference.
Lyle began her play-by-play career as a sophomore at Brentwood (Tenn.) High School in 2005, calling high school football, basketball, soccer, softball, and more on an educational access channel called WBHS9. That experience might have kick-started her career, but Lyle wasn’t certain that was her future in the industry.
“It’s funny to look back at that photo,” Lyle said. “I actually hated doing play-by-play at first. I was 100 percent sure I would never pursue that role as a career. Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with the hours of prep, sitting courtside at the games, and giving a voice to every point scored and every milestone accomplished.
“Hard work has been a huge factor in reaching my goals,” Lyle continued. “I love diving into a team and really getting to know them. That takes hours, even days, and I love every second of it.”
Lyle began her ESPN career as a summer event production intern in 2010 and 2011, working on the 2010 FIFA World Cup, X Games and MLB. She got her start on SEC Network after being noticed by coordinating producers Meg Aronowitz and Pat Lowry in 2016 while working for Tennessee’s school-produced games on SEC Network+, and the Tennessee alum notes that their support and constant opportunities for growth have helped her reach this stage in her career.
Lyle approached that fall Saturday the same as every game she’s announced in her career. She looks to fellow play-by-play commentators like Mowins as the standard for all in the industry to emulate. She received a text from the ESPN veteran a few days before that said, “be prepared for anything and enjoy everything.”
“It is terrific to see Courtney getting this opportunity that she has earned through years of hard work and preparation,” Mowins said. “She’s grown up around sports and loves college football, so this is a chance for her to call something she has always wanted to do. She is a true professional who I think has a very bright future calling football, and Courtney is a very enjoyable watch and listen.”
If you put in the work, that moment will come. When it does, walk into it with confidence; know you are supposed to be there, that you’ve earned it. – Courtney Lyle
Lyle’s love for sports comes from her father, Paul, who passed away from cancer in 2017. Paul watched every game his daughter called at ESPN, and she notes how much she wishes he could have seen her first ESPN college football game.
“I used to call my high school’s football games on Friday night, then we would drive to Knoxville for the Tennessee football game on Saturday and head back to Nashville on Sunday for the Titans game,” Lyle said. “He watched every game I called at ESPN. There would always be a postgame phone call from him. I miss that.”
As Lyle readies for her next assignment, there’s no doubt the pride her father would be feeling is shared amongst those who came before Lyle and those who will follow in her footsteps.
“If you put in the work, that moment will come,” Lyle said. “When it does, walk into it with confidence; know you are supposed to be there, that you’ve earned it.”