The dream is now a reality for ESPN2’s Cari Champion.
After two and half years as co-host of the network’s First Take, Champion has graduated to ESPN’s SportsCenter as its newest anchor. Champion is expected to work on morning segments of the broadcast starting in mid-July. Among the segments are a series of upcoming “interactions” about sports and entertainment with members of ABC’s Good Morning America.
“I grew up watching ‘SportsCenter’ — it is the flagship show so I am living the dream,” Champion told TheWrap.com, which noted that her last day at First Take was on Friday (June 19). “When I first started working here, I would casually petition for it — but there’s always a long line.”
Champion’s arrival at SportsCenter puts her in good company as she joins Hannah Storm, Linda Cohn, Sage Steele, Lindsay Czarniak, Jaymee Sire, Sara Walsh, Jade McCarthy and Nicole Briscoe as the sports news show’s newest female anchor. Before coming to ESPN in October 2012, Champion served as an anchor and court-side reporter at the Tennis Channel as well as an entertainment/lifestyle reporter for The Insider, Hollywood 411 and Starz Entertainment.
During her time at First Take, Champion found herself in the middle of heated debates between outspoken co-hosts Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless while serving as moderator between the pair.
“I realized that it was going to be a tough gig as I had the biggest, strongest personalities in the building,” she said.
Although she will miss the camaraderie (and conflict), Champion admitted that she is looking forward to “getting her feet wet over the summer” on SportsCenter.
The excitement over Champion’s transition was also voiced by Rob King, senior vice president of SportsCenter and news, who acknowledged Champion’s positive impact.
“On the handful of previous occasions that Cari joined SportsCenter shows, her wit and enthusiasm lit up the set,” King told TheWrap. “Having her presence on a regular basis is a win not only for audiences watching SportsCenter, but also for all of us who work on the show.”
(Photo: Cari Champion Instagram)