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Not Just For Kicks: “SportsCenter’s” Storm Profiles Entrepreneurs, Details Sneaker Culture In Hulu’s “Grails”

The six-part series, debuting Dec. 14, is the result of an 18-month project focused on tandem behind Eastside Golf brand; Storm: " . . . it was so gratifying to tell their story."

For the last 18 months, SportsCenter anchor Hannah Storm has been involved in a little side project within the Disney family. Actually, it was a large side project.

Hannah Storm with Earl Cooper (L) and Olajuwon Ajanaku, the founders of Eastside Golf and subjects of “Grails.” With them is CAA Executive, Sports Marketing, Annett Parker, who works with Cooper and Aianaku. (Hannah Storm/ESPN)

Working with ABC News Studios, Storm is the director and producer of a new series Grails, a behind-the-scenes look at the sneaker industry. Premiering today on Hulu, the six-part series profiles entrepreneurs Earl Cooper and Olajuwon Ajanaku, former Morehouse College golf champions who created the lifestyle brand Eastside Golf to promote diversity on the golf course.

It’s not new for Storm to direct and produce programs through her Brainstormin’ Productions company, which she founded in 2008. Among other projects, she has already produced content for ESPN, including the 30 for 30 film “Unmatched” and the SEC Storied films “Shaq & Dale” and “Rowdy.” She also directed short films and branded content for espnW, including “Swoopes,” part of the Nine for IX film series.

But this was a much larger project and took a lot of time. So how did she balance between her SportsCenter responsibilities and Grails? Prioritization and organization.

“I have directed seven films and several branded content series before this, but this was the biggest project I have produced and directed,” she said. “It took up an enormous part of my free time, and of course, making sure that the big shoots and interviews were on my off days.

“There were obviously times that I couldn’t be at the shoots, but we built an amazing team with great communication. I oversaw the questions and content and then pulled my selects on the back end for editing.”

Most of the phone calls I can take care of in the car during my long commute home, but there were so many crazy times.
Hannah Storm on balancing anchoring SportsCenter while directing and producing Grails over an 18-month span

Storm also made good use of her travel time from ESPN headquarters to where she lives in southern Connecticut.

“Most of the phone calls I can take care of in the car during my long commute home, but there were so many crazy times,” she said.

“For example, being on vacation with my family in Greece and doing Zoom [meetings] with the ABC News Studio team and watching episode cuts on a boat.”

But the time, energy, and work were worth it for her.

“It was an endeavor with so many major players like Nike, Jordan Brand, the PGA TOUR, PGA of America, NBA, and big-time celebrities like DJ Khaled, Damon John, Fat Joe, and Chris Paul, who all have crazy schedules also,” she said. “So it was like a jigsaw puzzle.

“The best part is that the guys from Eastside Golf are so sincere in their mission, everyone was drawn to this project and invested in them, and it was so gratifying to tell their story.”

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