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Zoom In: How SEC Network’s Kathy Johnson-Clarke Flipped Her Son’s Bedroom into Her At-Home Studio

Zoom In offers a tighter focus on the tools, tricks and techniques ESPN uses to create memorable moments

Out”standing” Commentary

Bart Conner and Kathy Johnson-Clarke

Two-time Olympic medalist and ESPN gymnastics commentator Kathy Johnson-Clarke has mostly been working from home this gymnastics season, utilizing her (grown) son’s childhood bedroom for multiple ESPN and SEC Network gymnastics meets. As Johnson-Clarke and two-time Olympic gold medalist Bart Conner prepare to call the biggest regular-season meet of the season with No. 1 Florida visiting No. 2 LSU tonight (7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network), we “Zoom In” to the tech, specs and personal touches that surround Johnson-Clarke as she calls the action.

The “Before” Studio

“My studio is set up in my son’s room, since he is away in graduate school at Texas A&M. Sean is a Division I student-athlete and an All-American pole vaulter, using his extra year of eligibility to get his masters in mechanical engineering and compete for Texas A&M after graduating from, and competing for, the University of Pennsylvania.”

The “After” Studio

“I am surrounded by everything that our family loves and for which we have a passion: books, music, art and sports, sports and more sports! My husband played football at Yale (that’s his No. 31 jersey framed on the wall) and that’s my painting of Sean. I also painted Locust Walk and the Philadelphia skyline for him, which are also in the room.”

Family Genes and Vinyl Records

“My dad played football for Western Kentucky and my brother pole vaulted for UCLA, so I have their photos and photos of my husband playing at Yale in the background of my on-camera shot.

“I love that I am covering college sports while surrounded by college sports memorabilia. I know what my son is going through during the pandemic in order to have a season, so I feel very proud of the athletes I have the pleasure and privilege of covering! I also have behind me the phonograph we use to play our vinyl record collection.”

A Safety Net of Notes

“You can see I have notes all over the place, even if I don’t look at them once during the broadcast. I know they’re there if I need them!” 

Connecting the Team

With Johnson-Clarke, Conner and production personnel working remotely, the talk back box becomes even more important. This allows talent, researchers, producers, graphics producers and more the opportunity to speak directly with each other.  

Caution: Turtle Crossing (Screens)

“This is our aquatic turtle, Saphira, who comes out of hiding while I am on air and can’t figure out why I am ignoring her ‘feed me’ dance!”

Black History Always: A Community Flourishes

The Undefeated presents a virtual roundtable with Black collegiate gymnasts discussing how the face of gymnastics is changing, what diversity has brought to the sport and the personal experiences of competing in a predominantly white sport. The conversation, moderated by The Undefeated’s Lonnae O’Neal, includes Trinity Thomas and Nya Reed (Florida), Kiya Johnson (LSU), Lynzee Brown (Denver) and Margzetta Frazier (UCLA). This (left) abbreviated version of the roundtable will air in all three Friday Night Heights meets this evening, featuring the trio of SEC gymnasts.

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