ESPN Studio Host Maria Taylor on Career Highlights and More

March 31, 2021


ESPN studio host and sideline reporter Maria Taylor isn’t just the most stylish personality in sports broadcasting. She’s one of its best prepared and most determined.

 

 

The Basics on Maria Taylor:

  • Age: 33
  • Height: 6’2″
  • Hometown: Atlanta
  • Favorite Southern food: Anything smothered
  • Power fashion: Black leather jacket

Men’s Journal: How did you go from being a basketball and volleyball player at University of Georgia to reporting on the sidelines of a Steelers vs. Giants Monday Night Football game?

Maria Taylor: I told my athletic director I wanted to work in sports broadcasting from day one. I got my first job because he called Learfield/IMG [sports marketing company] and said, “You have to give Maria a job because she’s in my face every day.” When I got to ESPN I went to my bosses and said, “Hey, one day I’d like to host College GameDay. What are the steps to get me there?” Closed mouths don’t get fed.

And by 2017 you were hosting GameDay. Could you always rattle off stats?

At Georgia you’re in SEC country and don’t have a social life if you don’t go to games. That’s when I fell in love with football. But when I started GameDay everyone knew football inside and out, it’s their life’s heartbeat. Luckily my game analyst Matt Millen would take me to practices and we’d watch film. That’s how I really learned the game.

How do you stay in shape when you’re on the road?

You can always do a HIIT workout. Whether that’s doing burpees or mountain climbers, mix that in with 20 minutes of cardio. Everything I do is interval training because I was a volleyball player, and your game is spent in 30-second spurts.

What part of the athletic mindset powers you off the court?

Fail fast.

Please elaborate.

In a game a lot of mistakes are made, but it’s about how you handle it. So if you miss a layup you instantly get back in the layup line or on defense. Expect more in the next play. The mentality has to be: I’m going to improve. I give myself grace and push myself forward.

Best career advice you ever got?

It was from Robin Roberts—make everyone in the room believe that there’s no place you’d rather be from the time you start out making coffee, which I’ve done, to when you get to host the NBA Finals. Your reputation is going to precede you. Make sure it’s a good one.

Sports are rife with alpha personalities. Who’s intimidated you?

The Hall of Fame coaches you run into, the Nick Sabans of the world. There’s just an aura that comes with them. But I’ve learned to shift the intimidation away from me. I just really respect what they do and who they are.

So you weren’t intimidated when you met Barack Obama at the Duke vs. UNC game where Zion Williamson blew out his Nike and injured his knee?

That was my first time being completely starstruck! We had an inkling Obama might show up because Zion was playing and everyone had been coming to see him, like Jay-Z and LeBron. After I found out Obama was coming I decided to say, “Because of you and Michelle I can be who I am now.” Then he came up and said, “Hey, we love watching you on Get Up!” I was shocked to think that he had even heard my voice. And he was in that black bomber jacket—it was cool Barack Obama, cool #44.

What are you most proud of career-wise?

The first time I worked a National Championship football game was in Atlanta, my hometown, and my alma mater was in the game (2018). The whole time I thought, “This is where you belong.” And hosting the NBA Finals for the first time. My dad texted me, “What is my daughter doing on the halftime show of the NBA Finals?” I said, “Yeah, I don’t know, Dad, but we’re here though.”


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