Game On

Sara Walsh - May 16, 2014

// photo by Agnes Lopez

Sara Walsh has interviewed dozens of professional athletes, coaches and team owners, but it was a March assignment in Jacksonville that has been the SportsCenter anchor’s favorite so far. “Getting to go back to UNF [her alma mater] to cover the Ospreys’ run to March Madness was a surreal experience,” she says. “It was very full-circle and among the tops on my list.” Walsh spoke to Jax Mag about her other career highs and her return to campus.

• After growing up in the Tampa Bay area, Walsh made the move to Jax to attend UNF on a soccer scholarship. She was a four-year starter on the team, and still holds the school record for goals and points in a game (four and nine, respectively). “I got sold on the idea of playing on the first UNF women’s soccer team.”

• In March, Walsh returned to UNF to interview the men’s basketball team prior to their inaugural appearance in the NCAA Basketball Tournament against Robert Morris (which they lost). “When I met with the team, the lazy river [located in an on-campus housing complex] kept coming up. So I decided to conduct the interview in the lazy river, from an inner-tube.”

• Walsh’s first job out of college was covering the Jaguars for the Beaches Leader. “I spent about a year doing that and it was a great experience. Honestly, I could have done that for a long time but my TV path took me to Macon, Nashville and then D.C.”

• Walsh married Matt Buschmann, a minor league baseball pitcher, in 2014. “We met in Nashville when I worked [as a sports reporter] there. Six years later, one of his good friends, [Tigers pitcher] David Price was doing an interview with me on SportsCenter. He brought up Matt, and the rest is history. David played matchmaker.”

• “When people ask me about the most amazing person I’ve met or interviewed, the answer is always Eric LeGrand [a former defensive tackle at Rutgers who became paralyzed from the neck down during an October 2010 game]. Since I first interviewed him for ESPN, we have become good friends. I believe he’s going to walk again some day, so my dream interview would be to interview him after that happens.”

• “My path to ESPN was not a traditional one. I was working in D.C. and I made a tape, edited it and sent it off. I remember thinking, ‘This is crazy, who do I think I am doing this?’ They got the tape and called me in immediately. I didn’t have an agent or anything. It doesn’t usually work that way, though, so I always have to say a disclaimer when I talk to young people looking to get in to the business. But it does go to show you that if you believe strongly enough in something, you don’t necessarily have to take the normal path.”