A Summer At ESPN West Palm 

by Sarah Elsesser

I had just finished running three miles and dragged myself off the treadmill. It was time to hit the blue mats to stretch and finish with an abs workout.

I sighed and thought, “How is it only Wednesday?” As I lay there, I reflected that it was either going to be a horrible week or one that I would never forget. Spoiler: It turned out to be the second option.

Dreading another sit-up, I picked up my phone to check a recent email. I assumed it was from my senior project professors and didn’t think twice when I swiped it open. But when the email finally loaded, I saw I was mistaken. It read:

“Sarah,

“On behalf of ESPN West Palm, I would like to officially offer you the opportunity to intern with ESPN West Palm for the Summer of 2016.”

I didn’t finish reading the email. I was already crying in the middle of the Recreation Center, fumbling with my gym locker and trying to call my parents to tell them the good news. When I say crying, I really mean ugly girl crying. The type of crying where you’re hiccupping, trying to catch your breath and have makeup running down your face.

Once I recovered, I decided to pick up my life and move to Florida, all for this internship and the chance to start my career.

I don’t have a magical first-day-at-ESPN story. In fact, I spent that first day doing paperwork and playing catch-up as I had started later than the other interns.

But from that day forward, my shifts were filled with learning how the different branches of the company worked and completing tasks for anyone who needed help.

Looking back on my summer internship with ESPN, two specific days stood out.

The first was a Saturday that I spent shadowing a sports reporter named Max. Max isn’t much older than I am, and he found himself involved in journalism for reasons like mine. I met Max at the WPTV station where he introduced me to Paxton Boyd, the weekend sports anchor, before we grabbed equipment and were out the door. We had a packed schedule ahead of us.

The first stop was at an “Inside the Speaker” series at which Metta World Peace was lecturing. After we collected b-roll of the event, it was time to interview the former MBA star. I watched as Max balanced the station camera on one shoulder and held the microphone with his free hand. Max had a short amount of time get his questions in before the other journalists were fighting to get their turns.

A quick interview was all we needed, though, because we had to get to a second event. We were going to the final Florida Launch game and were interviewing Casey Powell, a professional lacrosse player who was retiring after this game. Again I would find myself next to Max as he balanced the camera, held out the microphone and asked questions while competing with other journalists.

At this point, we had been out reporting for three hours and still had to get b-roll of the lacrosse game. Max took the moments during media breaks to explain what kind of shots the station was looking for. Then he asked, “Wanna give it a go?”

Before I could say yes, Max was placing the camera on my shoulder, and I was shooting the game just as he had before me.

Coming off a high of shooting b-roll for ESPN West Palm, I wanted to see what other hands-on activities I could get involved in. That’s when I teamed up with two other interns, Michelle and Regine, to be live reporters at ESPN’s most important summer event, the Top63 Award Banquet.

The banquet was held at the Kelsey Theater and started with a red carpet event. We were supposed to use Facebook Live to report alongside the station’s veterans, but we faced technical difficulties.
At this point, athletes were infiltrating the theater. We needed to switch our reporting tactics and do it quickly. That’s when I suggested using Snapchat to start the event. I knew that we could use iPads to record videos and post them to Facebook.

Without hesitation, Michelle picked up an iPad to record with that camera and Regine was logging into Snapchat on her phone while pushing me out to the red carpet.

In seconds, I was standing next to 6’1” quarterback Matt Gross from West Boca High School. Regine, who would end up serving as my producer, gave me a quick countdown, and we were off.

Excitement quickly replaced nerves as the next few hours of “live” reporting through Snapchat and Facebook flew by. This was my first experience with live reporting, and I’m glad it was with ESPN West Palm.