There is no telling when and where you might see Laura Rutledge on television across ESPN’s family of networks. From college football, basketball, and baseball to women’s softball and gymnastics, she covers a multitude of sports as both a sideline reporter and host.
In 2014, she joined the Southeastern Conference as a sideline reporter for SEC Network and is also the host of SEC Nation. More recently, she added co-host of the ESPN morning show “Get Up!” to her resume. You can even find her, on occasion, to host ESPN’s flagship program SportsCenter.
I’ve always wanted to have Laura on the podcast for a couple of reasons. First of all, she has a unique ability to take the complicated and complex and make it very simple. I mean that in a very sincere way, because what she does is extremely difficult. However, Laura does it in a way that looks natural and effortless.
“I knew very quickly that I wanted to be really good at this, and I would not be satisfied with anything less.”
The preparation for a role like hers is endless. You have to study and know all of the stats, the relevant storylines, and the inside information that go into making the broadcast of a sporting event what it is.
Secondly, I wanted to talk with her about the transition from being a competitor to her current role. Laura was an extremely accomplished ballet dancer and had to wrestle with the option of dancing professionally or attending college. How does she draw on her experience as a competitor in the ultra-competitive world of broadcasting?
Laura’s success has skyrocketed over the last few years because of the amount of professionalism she exudes, which has garnered her tremendous respect and trust amongst the sports world. Also, her ability to effectively communicate and perform LIVE in front of millions of people on national television is at an elite level.
3:00 – The aura of the SEC across the collegiate landscape
5:15 – The pressure on coaches to win at an elite level on a yearly basis
8:00 – The time, effort, and energy put into telling every student-athlete’s story
10:15 – How does Laura make it look so easy on TV?
13:00 – The good vs. bad of social media in broadcasting from Laura’s perspective
18:00 – How the SEC Network has made more women’s sports mainstream
20:40 – A day in the life of Laura Rutledge
23:45 – What to do when the teleprompter goes out during your first Monday Night Football broadcast
27:45 – Laura’s background as an accomplished ballet dancer before she got into sports broadcasting
32:00 – Ability to take constructive criticism to improve
34:20 – The importance of mentorship and who are Laura’s mentors?
38:20 – What is it like interviewing a football coach going into halftime?
42:45 – What coach has Laura learned the most from?
46:30 – Who is one person Laura would consider her “dream interview”?
49:50 – How Laura balances her family time with a very hectic work schedule
“You do so much preparation. It’s constant, it’s every day, and it gives you a level of comfort with what you are doing so that when something goes wrong or not according to plan, you don’t panic. You just adjust.”
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