For students who dream of one day working for ESPN, the biggest name in sports, the reality might be closer than they thought.
The UConn Sports Business Association hosted four ESPN staffers for a panel at the ITE building in November.
The panelists were SportsCenter producer Jon Lavoie, associate producer for Sunday NFL Countdown John Minton, coordinating producer Maureen Hassett-Lindsey, and SportsCenter anchor Kevin Negandhi.
Each of the panelists shared their stories about how they arrived at ESPN. Regardless of the path they took, their advice to students hoping to break into the world of sports reporting was similar: It will take a lot of hard work and persistence.
“I don’t know if it was actually my resume or just my constant pestering that finally got me a job interview with ESPN,” Lavoie said.
John Minton, one of the two alumni on the panel, said that he knew in high school that he wanted to work for ESPN. Throughout college, everything he did was strategically planned to help him attain his goal.
“It was too easy to be average, there were too many other people who were exactly the same as me,” Minton said. “What is really important is that you are putting yourself out there to be in the best position to succeed.”
The speakers wanted students to know that those who want to become involved in the sports business should not limit themselves.
Kevin Negandhi, the most notable panel member, admitted that his job isn’t all fun and games.
“There are probably 5,000 people that work at ESPN, and I only know a few hundred of them. But everybody’s job is important,” Negandhi said. “I get all the attention, good or bad. Whether something is actually my fault or if someone screws up behind the scenes, people still think it is the anchor’s fault.”
Lavoie said he hadn’t always known that he wanted to work in sports, and because of this he had to work even harder later on.
“I didn’t take the proper steps at UConn, but [later] I was persistent and I worked hard and eventually found the breaks I needed and made my own breaks,” Lavoie said. “I offered to work for free at a local channel, cutting clips and covering Ravens’ games.”
Students in the audience were appreciative of the advice.
“It is my dream to work at ESPN,” said Gavin Mestel, a third-semester accounting major. “I learned that there are all different paths, but the end result is limitless. Anything is possible if you work hard enough.”
Abram Tolwell, president of the Sport Business Association and a seventh-semester sports management major, was happy with the event’s turnout.
“We wanted students to get insight into the communications aspect of the business,” Tolwell said. “We were happy to have them. ESPN is a big name which people respond well to.”
The UConn Sport Business Association is a student-run organization dedicated to providing its members with a first-hand look into the sport industry along with tremendous opportunities for professional networking. Membership in the SBA is open to all UConn students interested in the sports industry. Primary participants include Sport Management majors from the Department of Kinesiology and School of Business majors at UConn.
This article originally appeared in the November 30, 2010 edition of the Daily Campus. Used with permission.