Women in Broadcasting: Cassidy Hubbarth

ESPN reporter Cassidy Hubbarth, pictured here as host of the 2018 NBA All-Star Celebrity Game.

For this series, Julia Adams spoke with women in various positions in the league – from play-by-play broadcasters to analysts to producers – to understand how the NBA is helping women step into roles. league-wide.

ESPN’s Cassidy Hubbarth joins the Zoom interview from her kitchen next to her 3-year-old daughter. She just picked it up from school and just returned to New York from Dallas, where she covered the Phoenix Suns vs. Dallas Mavericks series in the Western Conference Semifinals. Hubbarth only has a few days off before hitting the road again for the Eastern Conference Finals in Miami and will also be on the road for the 2022 NBA Finals.

“As you can see, it’s a microcosm of the way I work right now,” Hubbarth laughs after assuring his daughter that it’s almost dinner time. “In two different places.”

Hubbarth is a woman of many hats, and she wears them all well. Besides being a mother, she is an accomplished journalist and host of several of ESPN’s iconic properties, primarily the NBA. She is a full-time reporter for ESPN game shows throughout the regular season and playoffs. She also hosts several ESPN shows, including “Gand Up,” “sports center” and “First take» and contributes to «NBA Today” and “NBA countdown. For the 2022 Finals, she hosts “hoop flow”, ESPN’s NBA digital broadcast.

Despite all her apparent accomplishments, Hubbarth, like many high-achieving women, suffers from impostor syndrome – a term loosely defined as doubting one’s abilities or feeling fraudulent in one’s role. ESPN’s Doris Burke mentioned feeling that feeling in her role. For Hubbarth, feeling like an “impostor” amid her successes is especially heightened as she comes to terms with the balance between motherhood and her high-intensity work.

“Early in my career, when I was just focused on the job, it was easier for me to feel prepared,” Hubbarth said. “Since I have my daughter, it’s been a bit difficult because I don’t focus entirely on work anymore. There’s this perpetual feeling that I haven’t done enough on both sides. That’s what fuels some of this doubt that I belong here.

Although she sometimes doubts herself, Hubbarth says being a working mother is extremely rewarding.

“It’s also a feeling of empowerment, because I always function at a high level in both places. It’s about balancing those emotions and feeling like you’re home enough and at work enough that a lot of people have to deal with,” said said Hubbarth.

Hubbarth’s professional journey to becoming an ESPN sportscaster began with her love of basketball.

She grew up in Chicago during the Michael Jordan era in the 1990s, and many of her primary childhood memories are of watching the Bulls.

“The NBA is just in my blood…to be spoiled to watch six championships, and the greatest player to ever play on my hometown team laid the foundation for my love for the NBA,” Hubbarth said.

Hubbarth interviews Luka Doncic during the 2022 qualifiers.

She also grew up in an athletic family. It was a tradition in his house after church on Sundays to turn on the FOX NFL pregame show. When she saw sports presenter Pam Oliver on TV doing interviews with players, she knew she wanted to be in sports media one day.

“I remember sitting on my couch watching her and being like, this is what I want to do. I want to tell the stories of these athletes,” Hubbarth said. back since.”

Hubbarth decided at that time that she would do whatever it took to achieve this goal. She started covering sports in college and eventually attended Northwestern. There she studied journalism and graduated in 2007.

While at Northwestern, Hubbarth took a course that examined the future of media and how it is evolving to support the digital landscape. Her understanding of how to reach sports fans digitally helped her stand out in her job search.

“Before I graduated, the only place you could go was to a local sports newscast and progress,” Hubbarth said. “By the time I graduated, Twitter was launched and there were websites and even blogs that expanded the coverage space for sports”

Hubbarth’s first job out of college was at Intersport, a sports production company, where she developed on-demand content for Sprint mobile phones. She described her work there as “creating Netflix-style three- to six-minute clips for your flip phone.” His experience working in digital eventually landed him on ESPN’s ground floor in the digital team.

“I rode this digital wave because not only do I have a passion for sports, but also a passion for learning how the media landscape is changing,” Hubbarth said. “That’s how I got noticed.”

Hubbarth has had his share of breaks to match the different stages of his career. She went from associate producer for Comcast SportsNetwork in Chicago (where the Nets’ Sarah Kustok was a reporter) to reading on-air tweets, covering the SEC for FOX Sports South, advancing digital talent at ESPN to accommodation “Sports Center.” However, she says her biggest break was when she was asked to host “NBA Tonight” eight years ago.

“I had the opportunity to not only cover the sport I loved the most, but it was a show I worked on every day,” Hubbarth said. “I had a say in content and production behind the scenes. It was such a great time in my career where things really clicked for me and I felt like I was building something.

One of Hubbarth’s current roles is working on the sidelines of NBA games on ESPN. Many of the women on this show have said the sideline is the toughest role on sports TV. Hubbarth halted his sideline preparation process:

“As a national journalist, it’s a bit difficult because I’m flying around cities and I’m catching up. I have to understand what’s going on with these two teams that I’m not on a daily basis. When I go in a city, I pray that the teams have a shoot, and there is access so that I can put a player aside for an original quote that I can add to my reports, ”she said.

Hubbarth then uses OneNote to write her team and player scripts that she relies on throughout the year. She prepares about 15-20 stories for a game and sends them to her producer ahead of time. Then comes game time, which presents a whole new challenge – balance its relationship with the conversation between play-by-play announcer and analyst.

She compares it to a game of Dutch doubles.

“You wait your turn to come in and start…it’s a tricky dance,” Hubbarth said. “You prepare all these stories to enrich the viewing experience just to be ready for a moment that you sometimes don’t really have control over.”

The highlight of the supporting role is the post-match interview, which Hubbarth says is also tricky.

“If it’s a close game, you prepare to talk to several people. For the Warriors-Grizzlies game, I was preparing questions for Jaren Jackson, Ja [Morant]Stephen [Curry] and Jordan Poole,” Hubbarth said. “Ja and Steph are the stars, but Jaren had a fantastic game and Poole was leading. I was trying to prepare for all possibilities.

Hubbarth reports on Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals in the 2021 NBA Playoffs.

However, Hubbarth would not have gotten to where she holds these coveted positions today without experiencing setbacks. She said learning to overcome setbacks and recover from them was key to advancing in her career.

“[Learning how to] calm my mind where I can see everything like Neo from The Matrix – if you can find a way to focus in those times, that’s when you’ll be at your best,” Hubbarth said. “It took me a long time, and honestly, there are still times when I have to fail and make mistakes. You have to face challenges to gain experience in this profession.

Kustok has worked with and is close friends with Hubbarth. She says Hubbarth is not only amazing at his job, but one of the best humans and hearts you will find.

“Cass is the complete sportscasting package. Brilliant, versatile, fun and with an unparalleled work ethic,” Kustok said. the team. I’m so proud to call her a dear friend, not because of the pro she is, but because of who she is as a person.

In addition to representing mothers and working women in the sports community, Hubbarth is also extremely proud of her ethnicity as a Filipino, German and Irish woman. She grew up in a diverse community, so she was lucky enough to never feel different specifically because of her Filipino identity. Instead, Hubbarth sees it as something that makes her unique.

Hubbarth in Game 3 of the 2022 Western Conference Semifinals.

“Being exposed to Filipino culture [as a kid] and understanding that side of my life of what it was like for my mother growing up in the Philippines and being an immigrant. I agree to be different and make sure there is representation,” Hubbarth said.

Hubbarth believes that representation and visibility are paramount, which is why she talks about her journey. She said in her years covering the league, she knows the NBA shares that belief, but hopes to see more women in decision-making roles.

“The NBA is authentic in the way it values ​​women. I feel like the NBA is setting the standard for being progressive and understanding that they have a platform and a voice that needs to be used,” said Hubbarth.

Her balance between motherhood and work shows that women really can do anything. For those looking to follow in her footsteps, she offers this advice:

“You can’t cheat on work. We are in a microwave society where we think things should happen immediately, but enjoy the journey by failing, learning and growing.

“Also, if you want to be in this business, try to be as versatile as possible. This journey isn’t about chasing after a role, it’s about being as complete as possible so you can be informed as much as possible to really progress in this ever-evolving career.

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