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Versatility Really Does Pay Off: A Tribute to Holly Rowe


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Known for her versatility, Holly Rowe is a household name when talking about college football, men's and women's basketball, softball, the NBA, and the WNBA. Her lengthy experience as a reporter for ESPN has provided viewers at home with quality coverage and broadcasting for almost thirty years.


Rowe started her career at Brigham Young University, spending two years there before transferring to the University of Utah, where she graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism. While at the University of Utah, she worked as a news anchor for the campus news station and as a sportswriter for the Davis County Clipper and the Daily Utah Chronicle. Rowe participated in an internship with CBS Sports, landing her first job after graduation as an affiliate news coordinator for the Blue and White Sports Network. Before starting her full-time job with ESPN, she appeared in telecasts with ABC Sports from 1995-96 and ESPN in 1997. ESPN recognized her immense talent and hired her as a reporter in August 1998.


A lifelong college football fan, Rowe is one of ESPN's most versatile reporters. She provides commentary on NCAA football, men's and women's basketball, softball, volleyball, gymnastics, soccer, swimming, track and field, the NBA and WNBA, and the Little League World Series. 


After being named a sideline reporter for ABC Saturday Night Football with Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit, she said, "When they told me, I just started crying because I've been obsessed with college football my entire life. It's a dream come true and I'm thankful to my bosses for this opportunity. I'm starting my 26th season covering games on ABC and ESPN, and it's been long years filled with hard work. I'm excited to join what's been established as the best team in college football with Chris and Kirk, and I hope to be the world's best teammate to them."



Courtesy of Yahoo! News


In May 2015, Rowe received life-changing news. She was diagnosed with desmoplastic melanoma, a rare and aggressive form of skin cancer. After the removal of a tumor in her chest, she went into remission. Unfortunately, her cancer returned, and in February 2016, she underwent another surgery to remove a tumor under her arm, plus twenty-nine lymph nodes. Remaining humble, she said in a feature by Celeste McCauley, "For 20 years, I've been covering college sports from the sidelines, interviewing people, but I'd never been the subject of the story; it's the athletes and coaches who are. They're the stars."


In that same feature, she details her publicized journey with cancer and her courage and strength throughout it, even continuing to interview and report amid treatment. Rowe was diagnosed a third time while in the doctor's office for a routine scan; this time, the cancer reappeared as a tumor in her lung. She received news that the tumor was inoperable. Rowe is currently taking an immunotherapy pill and keeping tabs on her cancer with consistent scans. 


"My ESPN crew, they've been so great to me. Brent Musburger and all those guys have just been loving and supportive and sweet and they take good care of me. The Big 12, I can't even tell you how gentle and kind and loving they've been," Rowe said about her team at ESPN. "They've put chairs for me at the benches so I don't have to walk too far and I took a nap on the couch they had put for me in my room Thursday in between sessions. Just lots of love. It's really touching."


As for her success in the field, in 2022, Rowe won a Sports Emmy for Outstanding Personality/Reporter and won the Mel Greenberg National Media Award for the Women's Basketball Coaches Association in the same year. In 2023, she was named the Curt Gowdy Electronic Media Award Winner for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.


She was one of four play-by-play announcers on ESPN's coverage of the 1998 Women's World Cup and hosted ESPN's coverage of the Running of the Bulls. Rowe also made history as the first female color commentator for the Utah Starzz until the franchise moved to San Antonio. 


Showing her tireless commitment to college and professional sports while being an outspoken advocate for cancer research and prevention, Holly Rowe is truly someone to look up to. She encourages young people interested in going into sports coverage to join internships and get their foot in the door because "you never know what's going to happen." As Rowe continues her coverage of all sports, not just football, we all wish the future Hall-of-Famer well and admire her strength and greatness.



Courtesy of USA Today Sports



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