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ESPN Presents The 2021 Heisman Trophy Ceremony Tonight In Innovative Ways

Coordinating producer Kate Jackson explains how the Bristol-based program will provide unique presentation opportunities while incorporating tradition

Coordinating producer for special events Kate Jackson is starting 2021 with one of her busiest weeks of the year, overseeing tonight’s Heisman Trophy Ceremony (7 ET, ESPN) and The Home Depot College Football Awards on Thursday (7 p.m., ESPN). Both events will be staged virtually for the first time from ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., campus.

The Heisman ceremony, which she has produced since 2015, has been celebrated in New York City since its inception in 1935 and features the signature moment of past winners on-stage welcoming the newest member of the prestigious fraternity as college football’s top player is honored. While that in-person moment won’t happen, Jackson is excited about the unique nature of this year’s event.

“Every time you’re forced to do something differently, you inevitably discover something you would not have discovered if you didn’t have to do it differently,” the 22-year ESPN veteran told Sports Business Journal this week. “You just have to be nimble and flexible and ready to adjust.”

Jackson and team have adjusted. They will utilize the same platform created by Ross Production Services that allowed fans to be part of College GameDay’s “virtual pit” this fall. All of the Heisman winners have received a personal invitation to join the show and will appear on-screen when the trophy is presented.

Kate Jackson
(Scott Clarke/ESPN Images)

Jackson is also proud to acknowledge the ESPN team managing all those Heisman feeds:

“The front bench of our integration team features three powerhouse women – Lindsey Lloyd (content producer), Laura Shaw (associate director) and Kendra Walter (technical director). They are the nerve center of our show and are responsible for bringing in all the participants outside of host Chris Fowler, reporter Maria Taylor and Heisman Trustee Anne Donahue, who will be in-studio.”

Jackson also notes that two of the specialty cameras in the studio will be operated by women: Brie Michaels (Steadicam) and Andrea DeLyon (jib).

The Heisman and College Football Awards are just the latest examples of virtual events to originate from ESPN, including the 2020 ESPYS Awards that Jackson helped lead last summer. Though this year will look a bit different, the moment remains special.

Jackson said: “The Heisman is such an iconic award, and every time we get to welcome a new member to the fraternity and document their lives being changed, it’s incredible.”

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