School of Communication Alumni Working for ESPN’s SportsCenter
Experience gained both in and outside of the classroom has helped two recent graduates of UHart’s School of Communication land production assistant positions at ESPN’s SportsCenter program. Ryan Kelsey ’21 joined the sports broadcasting giant in fall 2021, and Derek Bennett ’22 was hired in August shortly after graduation.
In 2021, Kelsey started his career at FOX61 in Hartford as a photographer and editor before he was recruited by ESPN to work as a recurring production assistant, a seasonal position with a nine-month contract. A digital media and journalism major with concentrations in sports journalism and digital media production, Kelsey was soon promoted to a full-time production assistant for SportsCenter with the specialty content group RISE.
“RISE produces video elements that are player and team driven with the goal of telling a captivating story to viewers at home,” says Kelsey. “This includes the SportsCenter introduction at the start of each show, longer elements that help transition into a specific show segment, and shorter pieces that give viewers an idea of what is to come later in the show.”
Kelsey is also part of the ESPN Next Program that gives production assistants a chance to learn about the organization by placing them in different areas of the company on a rotating basis. He says the program allows him to network with various employees across the organization which will help prepare him for the next chapter of his ESPN career.
Bennett says the School of Communication prepared him for his production assistant role at SportsCenter by teaching him about all the positions in a television studio, as well as editing and production. Today, the digital media and journalism major is editing highlights and creating prompts for the show, as well as working with ABC affiliates. Bennett says he gained valuable experience as the sports director of the student-run television network STN2 during his last two years at UHart. He also ran the social media accounts for the Hartford Lions Soccer Academy as part of an internship in his senior year.
“The two professors that really had a huge impact on me are Susan Cardillo and Abe Hefter,” says Bennett. “They always drove me to submit my best work and then I would want to top it for the next assignment.”
Kelsey says one of the many ways that UHart faculty helped prepare him for his career was by teaching him about the different forms of media and encouraging him to become a well-rounded student. “The School of Communication helped me learn not only about television and live production, but also taught me about radio and podcasting, digital and online media, and the fundamentals and ethics of journalism.”
Ryan Kelsey ’21, School of Communication
The School of Communication helped me learn not only about television and live production, but also taught me about radio and podcasting, digital and online media, and the fundamentals and ethics of journalism.