In Depth

ESPN's Erin Andrews Reaches for the Stars

She’s achieved notoriety far beyond the sidelines of any sporting event. At press time, ESPN sportscaster Erin Andrews was one of the finalists on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”

After graduating in 2000 from the University of Florida with a degree in telecommunications, Andrews began her career with Fox Sports Florida before moving on to the Sunshine Network, Turner Sports and then ESPN in 2004. There, she started off with NHL coverage, and added college football, basketball and Major League Baseball to her sports coverage repertoire. Her contract expires in July, and she wants to continue as a sideline reporter.

Early this spring, Andrews testified in the case of a man who pleaded guilty to stalking and videotaping her through peepholes in hotel rooms as she traveled across the country for her job. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison.

She recently took time out from rehearsals for “DWTS” to speak about her career with NewsPro correspondent Hillary Atkin.

NewsPro: You’ve covered so much in your sportscasting career. If you break it down, what are some of your favorite elements of covering athletics?

Erin Andrews: I love the overall pageantry of it all. Right before big college football and basketball games, the crowd is going nuts, and the coaches are sweating. I’m right on the field or the court. I see it first before tipoff. I get so excited I could jump through a wall. The energy of covering sports is something I really enjoy. I get the best seat in the house, and get to look players in the eyes. I also cherish relationships with the coaches, which are so important and special to me, especially in the last year with everything going on. So I’m thankful.

NewsPro: Your father is an Emmy award-winning television news reporter. Did he influence your career path?

Andrews: My dad is such a big sports fan that growing up, I would sit on the couch and watch games with him. I grew up a Larry Bird and Celtics fan. I was born in the Northeast, in the era Michael Jordan was becoming a big deal. We would walk around with Celtics books bags and championship shirts from 10 years before. We were also big Red Sox fans and Green Bay Packers fans. My mom was really good and knew my dad has a passion for sports. She watches all my games and hears my stories about coaches. She’ll read the sports page, and is very knowledgeable.

NewsPro: What have been your biggest challenges?

Andrews: I’ve had a lot of people say that I’m in it just because I want to be on TV or that I don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s not so much inside ESPN as those outside who don’t work with me every day — but they’re probably not paying attention. I’ve had to prove them out just because I’m female and I care about hair, clothes and makeup.

NewsPro: You’ve had a rough year.

Andrews: I’ve dealt with difficult times in my life. I’ve had some of the most respected coaches beg me not to quit. That validated me and proved I do a good job and am respected in sports broadcasting. I was shocked at the support I got [after the stalking case.] I would get e-mails and phone calls from coaches. I’d call my parents and tell them how special it was for me to hear from guys I really relied on over the years. I’d always had my go-to coaches, but I got a new group that rallied behind me across college football, basketball and Major League Baseball.

NewsPro: What is your advice to young people aspiring to be sports journalists?

Andrews: The most important thing is to be prepared because a lot of people will question why you’re in the field. It’s important to be well-versed and educated on as many sports as possible.

NewsPro: How has your experience been on ‘Dancing with the Stars?’

Andrews: I’ve had to deal with a lot of media, especially when they’re digging into my private life — but I’m good about changing around the question. Dancing is equivalent to the competitive nature of sports. I’m channeling my inner basketball player when I get ready to take the floor. It’s been exactly what I wanted and hoped for. I wanted to do the show before everything kind of blew up in my life.