ESPN is bringing some young, fresh faces to its “SportsCenter” team.
Will Reeve, son of late “Superman” star Christopher Reeve, comedian Reese Waters and social media correspondent Sarina Morales are joining the network’s team in Bristol, Connecticut, and intend to tap into the digital landscape to reach the millennial generation.
The trio will be doing special reports for the franchise show — such as going on the road with a college football team or reporting from the 16th hole at this weekend’s Phoenix Open — and it will be easy to spot their segments amid the sea of veteran talent.
“I’ll be different from a traditional ‘SportsCenter’ reporter because I won’t be behind a desk in a suit,” Reeve, 22, who shares the square jaw and broad shoulders of his father, told TheWrap. “These stories are not going to appear on air and then fade off — they are going to get an extended life digitally and on social media.”
“We are looking for new voices who can tell stories through their eyes and not in the ways we typically do,” said Glenn Jacobs, Senior Coordinating Producer for SportsCenter Digital, Now and Next-Generation Content. “It is really about making ‘SportsCenter’ an active part of sports fans’ lives, not just a passive one.”
As for Reeve, “he is just impressive, the way he thinks about things and sees the world. He has a really good sense of the stories he wants to tell that both interest him and ‘SportsCenter’ fans,” said Jacobs.
His father Christopher Reeve, who died in 2004 after being paralyzed from a riding accident nine years earlier when Will was just 11 years old, and mother Dana, who died from lung cancer in 2006, would have been equally impressed.
“Hopefully they would get a kick out it,” said Will. “The things I am interested in and passionate about are similar to what they were. My parents definitely define who I am.
“My dad and I had a huge bond and shared a love of sports. I hope they would be proud and say, ‘Great job,’ no matter what. Then my dad would probably tell me to straighten my tie!” he laughed.
Meet “SportsCenter’s” new reporters below:
How he got to ESPN: After dreams of becoming a professional athlete sank at age 12 and small parts from his dad failed to yield a passion for acting, Reeve “discovered broadcasting and got bitten by the bug,” he said. Internships at ABC and “Good Morning America” got him spotted by ESPN and assigned writing and reporting gigs after graduating from Vermont’s Middlebury College. “ESPN was like a member of the family because it was always on,” he told TheWrap. “It is not only a dream job, it is my dream job … I just hope I don’t screw it up! I don’t want my dream to be taken away from me.”
How he’ll be different: “What drives me to a story is not who won or lost — it is about the people who play them. I believe sports is a metaphor for life and society,” said Reeve, who also plans to escape the albeit spacious confines of the studio. “If we want to do a story in a far-flung location, then we can.”
Favorite “SportsCenter” anchor: “Stuart Scott was the anchor I grew up watching. He was young, cool and funny. He made sports less serious, but still gave you the news that you needed to know,” said Reeve of the iconic host who died earlier this month following a battle with cancer.
Hometown: Washington, DC
How he got to ESPN: Waters first blended his stand-up comedy skills with a love of sports as co-host of “The Daily Line” on the Versus network, then was tapped by ESPNU to host late-night college sports wrap show “Unite.” Five years later, his latest career path “was a no-brainer … when ‘SportsCenter’ calls, you have to answer.”
How he’ll be different: Used to “having license to say what he wants” on stage, Waters, 34, will push the boundaries without upsetting too many fanatics. “One of the most entertaining things to me is how invested the fans are. I’ve learned that there is a way to say everything,” he told TheWrap. In addition to his segments sounding brassier, “there’s no sports expertise! I do want you to think, but it is about entertainment.”
Favorite “SportsCenter” anchor: Kenny Mayne is hilarious. If you think of him like a boxer, there are these guys that throw punches from all angles. With Kenny, I never know where he’s going to come from.”
Hometown: New York City
How she got to ESPN: “I have the weirdest background!” admits Morales, who’s taken a “Wild” road to ESPN by way of National Geographic, where she boosted its Facebook following from 350,000 to six million and hopes to build a similar strategy at ESPN. “I am brand new so we are testing things out. The fact that they’ve created this position for me shows people are taking notice.”
How she’ll be different: Morales, 28, plans to “bridge the gap between what ‘SportsCenter’ traditionally does, bringing out the personality of the anchors and highlighting what is going on in social media,” she said. “There is a stigma about social media and some people still think that Snapchat is for kids,” she explained, “but it is an awesome tool and conversation place, so we’ll be going beyond what is trending and find out what people are saying about it.”
Favorite “SportsCenter” anchor: Hannah Storm