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Updated Journalism Showcase: Trailblazer To Trailblazer

Jessica Mendoza previews her "SC Featured" profile of Rachel Luba, the youngest certified female MLB agent who represents NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer, debuting Sunday on SportsCenter

EDITOR’S NOTE: MLB player agent Rachel Luba will join ESPN MLB analyst Jessica Mendoza and play-by-play commentator Dave Flemming as a special guest during ESPN’s Los Angeles Dodgers versus Kansas City Royals game telecast Friday, 3 p.m. ET. Trevor Bauer, Luba’s client and new Dodger, also will join the telecast.

Jessica Mendoza is no stranger to blazing trails. The Olympic gold and silver medalist has routinely made sports and broadcasting history since 2015, when she became the first woman to serve as an MLB national television analyst.

Upon expanding her ESPN storytelling role, Mendoza has prioritized uncovering stories on women who are breaking barriers in sports – a topic she knows as well as anyone. She recently interviewed Boston Red Sox coach Bianca Smith. On deck is her “SC Featured” piece on Rachel Luba, MLB’s youngest certified female agent who represents Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer. The piece debuts within the 8 a.m. SportsCenter on Sunday, March 7. EDITOR’S NOTE: This Front Row post has been updated to reflect the SC Featured content.

“It’s been awesome to provide a deeper dive into these amazing stories, and in this case, an amazing woman in Rachel Luba who a lot of people still don’t know about yet,” said Mendoza. “‘SC Featured’ does such a great job of telling stories in unique ways, and through imagery and access.”

Mendoza recently spent time with Luba in Arizona at former Cincinnati Red Bauer’s pitching facility that he’s building himself. This offseason, Luba and co-agent Jon Fetterolf helped make Bauer – the 2020 NL Cy Young Award winner – the highest-paid pitcher in Major League Baseball via a three-year deal for him with the defending World Series Champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

While Luba has been applauded for her unique approach and for breaking through the proverbial glass ceiling, her success hasn’t come without struggle, or skeptics. Below, Mendoza tells Front Row why she was motivated to tell Luba’s story, what she observed during the production process, and what resonated with her the most.

How did you first became aware of Rachel Luba and her story?
I first learned about Rachel’s story by reading through several articles about Trevor Bauer as part of my normal routine and season preparation. Through it, I learned he had a female agent and then learned that she has her own agency. She’s one of the only women in the business. And of course, as fate would have it, since there aren’t that many of us women in baseball altogether, we ended up at the same conference where I heard her speak. I could tell that while she’s new to this, she’s incredibly knowledgeable and passionate.

What elements of your interview with Luba resonated with you the most?
What stuck with me the most was hearing about the eating disorder she battled. Knowing she was a gymnast and seeing the images she has posted publicly, it was interesting to learn that there was this entire correlation with that and her body image from young age. When she became someone who could look in the mirror and say ‘I’m proud of the woman I am mentally, emotionally and physically,’ that really stuck with me because I didn’t know it was her path. Those images she had posted all stemmed from a place of pride and strength.

What were you able to uncover about Rachel’s rapport with Bauer during the shoot?
In addition to telling the story of Luba’s journey, we were also able to capture lighter moments, including the banter and rapport she has facility. For instance, we shot the interview in Arizona where Bauer and his father building a pitching facility. During the interview, Bauer was laying down the flooring, dragging 300-pound mats, dripping with sweat. He said he used that time to warm up, and five minutes later he started throwing. Luba laughed, saying ‘Yeah. Welcome to my life. This is what I do.’

Nearly a year to the day the NBA season was put on hold due to COVID, E60 Presents – Man in the Middle: The Rudy Gobert Story. Utah Jazz All-Star center Rudy Gobert is known at-large for two things: being the first major American athlete to test positive for COVID-19, and for being the catalyst that brought the sports world to a halt. E60’s Lisa Salters talks with Gobert Sunday, March 7, at 11:30 a.m. ET on ESPN.

– Mike Skarka

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