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Feel Good Moments: “Top Ten” ESPN memories shared by . . .

"It was the first time I took a step back and reminded myself that I was living the dream!"

The launch of the Adidas “Top Ten” basketball shoes, that pay homage to the debut in 1979 of both the sneaker and ESPN, inspired a sweepstakes that asked ESPN employees to share a favorite memory from over the years.

More than 210 responses flooded in. Some achieved a childhood dream on Day 1 and vividly remembered that moment. Some shared heartwarming experiences with their coworkers or explained once-in-a-lifetime moments.  In the spirit of the Top Ten and the SportsCenter Top Ten, we chose the Top Ten stories to highlight.

The Top Ten

Tatiana Branch, Studio Operator

My favorite ESPN moment was getting the call that your childhood dream has become a reality. The day I was hired to work at ESPN I was in tears. So grateful for this company and being able to work with such amazing people.

Matthew Bishop, Director I

The first time I ever directed a show on ESPN was from my bedroom. I’ll never forget the setup, equipment testing sessions, and Zoom calls it took us to figure out how to make TV from home!

Jason Greenberg, Remote Sr. Associate Producer

Since 2003, I have been able to work a live sporting event for the Company in 49 of 50 states including Hawaii and the Dakotas, all over the last 19 years… The most recent piece of the puzzle was a South Dakota State Summit League Tournament game.

Ivery Johnson, Lead Video Editor (and lover of bowties)

My favorite ESPN moment was being surprised with a promotion to Lead Post Production Editor in 2018, and the entire Edit Management Team wearing bowties!!! Such a heartfelt moment.

I ♥ my team!

Joseph Madrid, Associate Manager, MSI

My favorite memory has to be wrestling Kenny Mayne in a bear suit for a Duluth commercial in the SportsCenter studio. Receiving an email that asked, “What size bear suit are you?” might be one of the best/oddest emails I have ever received.

Stacie McCollum, VP, Programming & Acquisitions

One of my favorite ESPN memories was coordinating Arnold Palmer Day on campus in September 2009 in honor of his 80th birthday. At the time, we had rights to three of the four golf majors and early rounds of the Ryder Cup. Arnold did a car wash and shot a This is SportsCenter spot with Scott Van Pelt where he showed the art of making an “Arnold Palmer.” At the time, I was 9 months pregnant, and he asked if I was having TWINS. Sadly, I was not, I was just very pregnant.

A live blog was written that day by former writer Jason Sobel that referenced Stacie.

Matthew Otis, Master Control Operator

I was just going into my second year here at ESPN. It was Christmas Day morning, which for those of us away from families, can make for a very long and lonely day. I was in one of the back operating rooms, old Master 11, airing my third soccer game that day. During halftime, a man walked into my control room. I didn’t recognize the person, but I could sense him standing there waiting for me to finish the switches I was making during the commercial break. When I turned, I saw a gentleman with a nice collared long sleeve shirt, straight cut pressed blue jeans and probably the largest PDA/cell phone ever created on his hip. So I said, “With a cell phone like that, you must be someone important, hello, I am Matt!” Turns out that this person walking in on a Christmas morning was then-ESPN President George Bodenheimer. He was taking time out of his Christmas Day and making the rounds to thank everyone who was working on the biggest holiday of the year and hoped the free meal at the cafe was good. It was this display of understanding and thanks from the highest-ranked person in company that makes me happy to work at ESPN.

Damian Reynolds, Content Associate

My final day of work before a year-long military leave. I’m working on Get Up at the time and my fellow PAs surprised me with a send-off from Mike Greenberg. I’m getting ready to say my final farewells when I looked up at the screen and hear Greeny say my name in the show closing. “We want to salute, quite literally, one of our own. Damian Reynolds…” I watched that clip once a month to get me through deployment.

Alison Schmalberger, Director, Content Business Optimization

A memory forever etched in my mind is being in South Africa during the 2010 World Cup. I was a part of Ian Darke’s announce team and was right behind him and John Harkes as they called the USA vs. Algeria game. Landon Donovan scored a goal in stoppage time to advance the team to the Round of 16 and Ian gave the iconic call “Go, Go USA…! You could not write a script like this!”

Courtney Snyder, Video Editor

My favorite memory at ESPN was sitting in an edit room listening to Scott Van Pelt close out the show on our 40th anniversary. During his segment “1 Big Thing” he summed up what it feels like to work here every day. “We’re just a cable tv station in the middle of a small town in Connecticut that somehow became what it is, which is why if you’ve never seen it, it’s hard to explain.” It was a real ‘pinch me’ moment. It was the first time I took a step back and reminded myself that I was living the dream! 

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