In Omaha, NE one of the best times of the summer is when the best of the best college baseball teams are in town for the College World Series. Fans flock from all over the country to TD Ameritrade Park. Heck even the worldwide leader in sports ESPN joins the party. Which is why Christine Boggy is here to give us an insight behind the scenes of the College World Series from a producing perspective. She is part of ESPN’s SEC Network production team who cover the College World Series year in and year out. Today we sat down with her to discuss baseball, her career, amongst other topics as well.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and why you decided to get into sports?
Well, I am originally from Fremont, NE. I grew up going to the College World Series thanks to my dad who loves baseball, and it just turned out to be one of those things that is a tradition for me. I also worked as a ballgirl at Rosenblatt for a number of years. After I decided to retire from being a ballgirl, I went on to become a reporter/anchor for local TV. Next I was able to get onto ESPN as a runner and work my way up. Currently I work in production, I help out with the creative process and get some player stories out there. Right now, at the College World Series I do “features” – basically whatever you see that is not the game is what I work on. For example, the player from Yutan, NE who plays for CSU Fullerton fulfilled his dream of coming back to Omaha. I try to find stories that inspire and looking back over the years it is unique getting to work on this side of things rather than the grounds crew like when I was younger.
Will you tell me what it is like for a day in your shoes at the College World Series? From sunrise to sunset.
To start with, when we first got here we did interviews with players from of each team. Throughout the week we have been putting those into little soundbytes and packages. I have been working with ENG also, which stands for Electronic News Gathering but that’s not important. What is important is that ENG is responsible for shooting the game, fans standing in line, those crazy fans who love a camera in their face basically catching the whole atmosphere. Then, today I will be editing some video. But I really love how everyday it’s something different.
What about for days like earlier this week? These brutal storms we have in Omaha surely have an effect on what happens to your daily assignments?
Pfffft, it has been rough. Unfortunately, it is a lot of sitting around. The weather really determines what we can do and it is a story within itself. We do what we can and make the most of it. For instance, we sometimes look for people who are standing in the rain and figure out why the heck they are standing in the pouring rain [Laughs]. Luckily, all the games are back on track so hopefully no more rain.
I think you’ve been out of Nebraska for too long, it rains all the time here in the summer. Now, what would you say is the hardest part of your job?
Probably coming up with story ideas which, I think is everybody’s problem whether your in production, reporting, producing or anything like that. You always have to be reading, talking to people and a lot a lot of brainstorming and just trying to think out of the box.
In baseball you see a lot of superstitions. For example, TCU players last year were stacking hats in extra innings. The other day Miami had the rally monkey out. Are there any superstitious antics in your field?
Yeah there is but it varies. Especially with baseball there are so many different superstitions, however, you never say anything about rain delays. If you do, everybody on your team will give you stick for the rest of the day. Since we are on the topic of superstitions, did you see Arkansas make a fire pit the other day? Oh my gosh, it was great.
No I didn’t, fire pit?! What was that about?
They were getting people on base, and getting runs in. While that was happening they put together all these bats and gloves, with a bubble gum container on top, they made it look like they were putting together a fire because they were on fire. Unfortunately, they got eliminated so we won’t see the firepit anymore but baseball players just have a knack for coming up with the most creative superstitions, it is awesome! I’m sure there will be a few more we see, after all we still have a lot baseball to play.
To me the biggest storylines heading into the College World Series were the #1 and #2 draft picks possibly matching up and to see how the SEC dominated field would fare. What was the biggest headline in your eyes?
In my opinion, seeing all four semifinalists for the Golden Spikes award (Player of the Year) at the College World Series because it is something that both ordinary fans and die hard baseball fans can both enjoy. Also, to touch on the SEC a bit I thought what is turning into a surprising story is the fact that LSU lost right off the bat and Florida lost to Virginia. A lot of people had them as favorites to win the championship. Now they both face a tough road onto their ultimate goal.
This is the 4th year of TD Ameritrade Park, what are your thoughts of the transition from Rosenblatt so far?
It is important to know I am extremely bias. [Chuckles] To me, the atmosphere is completely different. Yeah, it is still fun, competition is still here, fans are still here but the tailgating and camaraderie you get from Rosenblatt being surrounded by houses with the booth setups, people offering to hangout in their yards it was special. Now it is very corporate, the stadium is surrounded by cement and bars. There is a strip of tailgating which is neat but I still think a majority of people when they hear College World Series, they still think of Rosenblatt. Nevertheless, TD Ameritrade Park is a gorgeous ballpark I am sure the players love it.
Who do you think are loudest or rowdiest fans at the College World Series?
Definitely LSU by FAR!
Why? Give me an example
LSU fans and their southern accents. When you combine that with the passion they have for their team it is just exciting to be around. In fact, the second day I was here as I was walking minding my own business by the ballpark, I see LSU fans on the sidewalk with their ginormous stuffed tiger doing “college-related” activities with it. Police ended up taking it away but that just goes to show that when it comes to LSU fans you never know what will happen. Not to mention, all the food that they have like the jambalaya and étouffée, it is just incredible what LSU brings to the table!
You come to Omaha once a year, what is your favorite part about Omaha outside of baseball and your favorite about the College World Series?
I would say the Old Market area because everyone seems to gather there. There is also a lot going on around the area which leads to an overall awesome environment.
Personally, the family aspect of it. Like I said I have been going my whole life, I get to go with my mom, dad, brother, etc. Mostly my dad, [laughs] which I don’t mind. It is special because the College World Series always falls under Father’s Day and that is just something that means the world to me!
Believe it or not, some people have never been to a College World Series game. To those what would you say to try and convince them to experience a game?
First of all, that is absolutely ludicrous for anyone who lives near Omaha to never have gone to a game. Out of state citizens, I understand and I will give a pass to. However, there are people out there and I’m always trying to convince people to come to games. To those I would say it would be the greatest college baseball atmosphere you will ever experience. You can go to any other college stadium in the country that have great atmospheres such as Ole Miss, Mississippi, Auburn and so on but there is nothing like the College World Series. To add on, every year I adopt a team just so I have someone to cheer on because it’s the competitive nature side of me kicking in. Surprisingly enough it makes you that much more glued into the action. I really do highly recommend finding someone to cheer for, you won’t regret it!
What team was that this year?
Arkansas. [hysterically laughing] I was so bummed when they got eliminated but the reason it was Arkansas was because Dave Van Horn used to coach Nebraska back when the Huskers played in the College World Series. I had to cheer for my Nebraska roots of course. Now I am going to need to find another team!
Who do you predicate winning the College World Series?
Coming into the tournament I said LSU. They had the defense and offense but after watching them play, I am not sure they have the pitching. Not to mention, coming up through the losers bracket is so incredibly tough! I might have to reevaluate. So just a shot in the dark my second pick is TCU.
If a young girl or boy came up to you and was seeking advice into trying to get into the sports industry, what would you say to them?
Don’t do it. [laughing] Just kidding. I would say watch as many games as you possibly can, read about the players, teams and really understand the sport. Don’t just be a fan. For example, the strategies and tactics behind plays. Especially for a girl in this industry, you are always proving yourself. People are constantly setting limits on us so you can’t just go in and say “Oh hey, I want to work in sports.” Then they say, “No you are just a cleat chaser.” Prove them wrong.
Not saying this happens all the time but more often than not, when talking with potential employers they will quiz you on sports. Ultimately, go to as many events as you can and when you’re at those events ask those major networks that are there how you can get involved. Always ask questions and be persistent! In fact, that is how I got my first job. I was turned down five different times by the same guy at ESPN radio in Las Vegas but finally he emailed me to come in and I never looked back. Be persistent, you’re going to get turned down, it is a tough industry but if you love it just keep going and never give up.
Working in the sports industry has its perks, are there any favorite athletes or reporters that you have met up to this point?
Reporter, probably Jane Slater who works at the Longhorn Network she works exceptionally hard and she worked her way up from local TV just like I did so I have tons of respect for her. Kenny Mayne who has been on SportsCenter is someone people might know better, one of the most funniest people I have met. He actually went to UNLV where I attended. Go Rebels.
Athlete wise I would have to say Kurt Warner the former quarterback. He is one of those people who is humble and will talk to anybody. I met him back when I was at the SuperBowl and we were both spectators.
You have done so much already in your career, what is next for Christine Boggy?
I don’t know [Laughs]. I have always inspired to become a sideline reporter. I have got to do little bits here and there but I am still not where I want to be. I am in the right company but not quite there yet. However, now that I am in this position I have been exposed to some things that I have learned to love. I am contemplating going in the producer direction because it gives me a chance to get out there and tell a lot more stories than I could on the sidelines. If I could chose a dream job it would be a team reporter for the Kansas City Royals! Quite frankly, any team reporter but I’ll take any team reporting gig.
Take a look at the latest bracket who do you have winning?