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Team Player: Scott Van Pelt and Content Producer Maddie Brightman

“She’s a world-class idea generator who constantly is pushing all of us to come up with the best show content ... “ - SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt anchor on colleague Brightman

“SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt” content producer Maddie Brightman (L) poses with anchor Scott Van Pelt and co-host “Stanford” Steve Coughlin on the show’s set in Washington, D.C. (Andy Hall/ESPN)

In the latest installment of Front Row’s “Team Player” series — where an ESPN personality selects a behind-the-scenes colleague to spotlight – SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt anchor Scott Van Pelt salutes content producer Maddie Brightman. The two work together in Washington, D.C.

The late-night edition of SportsCenter has originated from Washington since August 2020. Though the majority of the production staff is based at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., Brightman has worked with Van Pelt, co-host “Stanford” Steve Coughlin, and ESPN Vice President, Executive Producer, Mike McQuade, in Washington since August 2021.

Van Pelt considers Brightman an invaluable asset and teammate.

“She’s the boss of the joint. Runs the place. Organized and thorough in all the ways I’m not,” he said.

“But it’s not like her job is just to manage details, although she’s great at that. She’s a world-class idea generator who constantly is pushing all of us to come up with the best show content. She’s a huge sports fan, with great passions for her Orioles, Ravens, and Penn State. We benefit so much from the perspective in the room that a young woman provides. She’s just vital in so many ways.”

Brightman visits M&T Bank Stadium during the AFC Divisional Playoffs this past NFL season. She travels with Van Pelt to wherever he does his SportsCenter program from.(Maddie Brightman/ESPN)

Brightman, who joined ESPN in 2017 only weeks after graduating from Penn State, is one of three content producers on the show but the only one in Washington.    

“I handle a lot of the same responsibilities as the content producers in Bristol,” she said. “Because most of the analysts we have are right here in the studio, usually it’s my responsibility to help produce those segments. That includes working with our production staff in Bristol to figure out video needs or what we want cut for the show.

“And then, because I’m the only one here, I wear a lot of other different hats. A big part of my job is handling a lot of the paperwork during the show, so all of Scott’s scripts and shot sheets, making sure we have all of those in order, block by block, so he knows where we’re going.”

And since the team is so small, she also manages many things needed for and in the office.

Brightman also oversees production of the annual “Scottie” awards that the show gives out after the college football season, including working with Van Pelt and Coughlin to pick nominees and winners as well as writing, scripting and organizing the show.

“It’s a project we tackle internally here in D.C.,” she said.

SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt has set viewership records this year and Brightman enjoys being part of the team.

“To have the opportunity to work on a big ticket show like this after the biggest games on the network is really rewarding,” she said. 

Van Pelt greatly appreciates what Brightman brings to the production. 

“At some point, we might lose her to something bigger, which I will support entirely,” Van Pelt said, adding, perhaps only half-jokingly, “Also, I will quit. Because the whole thing will fall apart without her.”

Brightman: “To have the opportunity to work on a big ticket show like this after the biggest games on the network is really rewarding.” (Andy Hall/ESPN)

“The opportunity to work in this office is really special. I’m originally from outside of Baltimore, so it allowed me to come home, still work for the company, and to be able to work on a show that I’m really passionate about.

“Part of that, too, is that I grew up watching Scott, knew he was from Maryland, and he was an Orioles fan just like I was. Just to get to have that experience working with him, as someone I grew up watching and someone who liked the same teams, to now as someone I spend a lot of time with – sometimes more than our families – he’s someone I’ve come to care about and who is really important to me has been a mentor and is always there for anything I might need.

And getting to work with our group, I think we are in that top-tier group of studio shows, if not the best here at the company.”

SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt airs late night ET on ESPN and the ESPN App or following live games

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