Knowledge From The Jump: Glimpse Behind The Scenes Of ESPN’s NCAA Gymnastics Coverage
As the NCAA National Collegiate Women's Gymnastics Championship unfolds this week in Texas, learn how former gymnast and ESPN Supervising Video Editor Starlyn Schwartz uses her experience to help shape storytelling
Gymnastics has been part of Starlyn Schwartz’s life since childhood. The Pensacola, Fla., native started competing at the age of 10. She joined ESPN in 2010, after graduating from Southeast Missouri University, where she competed and helped the women’s gymnastics team reach NCAA Regionals twice, a feat the program had not accomplished in a decade.
. . . I strive to edit video that goes beyond just informing viewers. My goal is to provide insight into the mental and physical challenges that make this sport so demanding, helping the audience appreciate the toughness of gymnastics beyond the glitter and frills.
— Starlyn Schwartz, ESPN Supervising Video Editor and former collegiate gymnast
For the past eight years, Schwartz has been the Supervising Video Editor for ESPN’s gymnastics coverage, contributing to the authentic presentation of the sport across ESPN platforms. ESPN’s distinctive storytelling will be on display throughout coverage of 2023 NCAA National Collegiate Women’s Gymnastics Championship, beginning today at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and ESPN+ and culminating Saturday with the Championship Final beginning at 4 ET on ABC and ESPN+.
In November, Schwartz traveled to the University of Alabama to help direct and assist with set design for the front-end poses and the interview station for ESPN’s coverage of NCAA Gymnastics, as she details in the video above.
“Being familiar with the pressure of competing and the high stakes involved in every meet, I strive to edit video that goes beyond just informing viewers,” Schwartz says. “My goal is to provide insight into the mental and physical challenges that make this sport so demanding, helping the audience appreciate the toughness of gymnastics beyond the glitter and frills.”
As an editor, she works with her production team to produce content and storylines relevant to each week’s live telecast, including teasers, promos, athlete profiles, and highlights.
“I aim to engage the audience by showcasing the athletes in a way that fosters a sense of community, like any other major sport. I believe that this connection can help gymnastics gain a broader platform to educate and excite viewers, ultimately compelling them to tune in each week.”
To Schwartz, who competed for the Red Hawks from 2006-2009, coverage of gymnastics has come a long way.
The sport also taught me so much about the power of teamwork, a skill I lean on every day in my job. – Schwartz
“Over the years, I’ve witnessed the evolution of the gymnastics narrative and a significant growth in viewership. Broadcast of any collegiate gymnastics was basically nonexistent when I was competing,” she says. “The sport was only recognized during the Olympics. That’s why our coverage of gymnastics at ESPN and SEC Network is so important for the sport. That’s why I am optimistic about the future of a sport that has given me so much.”
Gymnastics taught Schwartz the value of perseverance and teamwork.
“Competing for Southeast Missouri was one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences of my life. As a team leader, I helped the squad earn three straight NACGC/W National Academic Championships and secure two NCAA Regional appearances. Despite enduring two ACL tears during my four years, I persevered and returned to compete each time.
“The sport also taught me so much about the power of teamwork, a skill I lean on every day in my job. The creation of the gymnastics creative, for example, was a collaboration across multiple ESPN Creative Studio colleagues, including Supervising Post Editor Grayson Sedory, Producer Jonathan Weber, Senior Editor Josh Ouellette, Senior Manager Dave Bassick and Supervising Animator Justin Norton, Associate Producer Ashleigh Shanley and DP Tony Melfi.
“In true gymnastics fashion, you can say that we’ll continue elevating the sport through our work in pursuit of the perfect 10!”
Before meet coverage, ESPN works with star collegiate gymnasts to capture production elements like these (Starlyn Schwartz/ESPN)
Here’s video of ESPN’s Starlyn Schwartz competing for Southeast Missouri women’s gymnastics.
Beginning today in Fort Worth, Texas, eight teams will tumble toward the NCAA National Collegiate Women’s Gymnastics Championship title at Dickies Arena. Semifinal I is slated for 3 p.m. ET and Semifinal II airs live at 9 p.m. Thursday, both on ESPN2 and ESPN+.
Semifinal I features No. 2 seed Florida, No. 7 seed California, No. 6 seed LSU, and No. 14 seed Denver, while Semifinal II showcases top-seeded Oklahoma, No. 4 seed UCLA, No. 5 seed Utah, and No. 9 seed Kentucky.
The Championship Final will be broadcast on Saturday, April 15 at 4 p.m. on ABC and ESPN+, and will also be available internationally. ESPN tucks into its Championship Saturday coverage with the first ever NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championship Live Preshow on ABC at 3:30 p.m., leading into the championship final. For more information, visit ESPN Press Room.
— Amanda Brooks contributed to this post