Women's Basketball Feature: Suarez and Umeri, the ESPN-2
Feb. 16, 2015
Tiffany Suarez and Sydney Umeri have been playing side-by-side on the court for the past two seasons, with Suarez, a guard, feeding Umeri in the low post. If the two sophomores have their way, they’ll still be working side-by-side years from now, this time with Suarez sitting courtside throwing it back to Umeri in the studio. The ESPN studio, of course.
Both Suarez and Umeri have filled out their pre-declaration papers and hope to learn sometime in May that they have been accepted to the media studies program at Virginia, a means to a common end.
“My dream job is working for ESPN as a broadcaster, specifically a women’s basketball broadcaster,” Suarez said. “When I came into college, I was trying to decide between coaching and broadcasting. I liked both a lot, but now I have really started to feel that my future is in broadcasting.”
Suarez has found herself in front of the camera since she was 13 years old and was selected from more than 218,000 players to be a Jr. WNBA All-Star at the 2007 NBA All-Star game in Las Vegas. After being selected, she took some media training to help her feel comfortable in front of the camera. Since then, she has felt at ease, even relaxed, under the lights.
It was, however, watching a fellow Floridian call a college game that made the Suarez give a broadcasting career some serious thought.
“I was watching a North Carolina game and Erlana Larkins was broadcasting it,” Suarez recalled. “She was a great player in college basketball, which I wanted to be. I thought it was cool that she was able to stay in the sport and talk about the sport that she loves and be in front of the camera. I really liked that. I also thought it was really cool that she was broadcasting for her old school.”
While basketball served up the a-ha moment for Suarez, with Umeri, it was a different sport that caused her revelation.
“I have always been a big college football fan and, growing up, my weekends would be based around College GameDay and all the games that came on, but it was really College GameDay that got me headed in this direction,” Umeri said. “It was so much fun to watch! They were talking about sports and stats and all the things that I love. That was what really got me interested in it, but it wasn’t until last semester that I realized this was the profession that I really wanted. I was originally torn between medical school and this, which are two very, very different things.”
Umeri picked the right time to decide between those two “very, very different things” as the basketball version of ESPN GameDay rolled into Charlottesville and John Paul Jones Arena two weeks ago. Umeri managed to catch the action first hand of what she hopes one day might be her everyday job. “It was such a great atmosphere, I don’t see what’s not to like about that job,” Umeri said. “It was crazy. It was a good event with a lot of energy around grounds. I loved it. Beforehand, I got a chance to meet Rece Davis and Jay Williams, which was a treat for sure. They were great people and really easy to talk to. To see them at work, was just so much fun!”
Most of Umeri’s media experiences thus far have been of the written variety. Last semester, Umeri had an internship with CollegeFashionista where she wrote a blog that posted every Thursday, commenting on someone or something fashionable she would see around grounds. She really loved writing and expressing herself in a blog, but wasn’t a fan of being limited to just the topic of fashion. Last month, she started a new blog called `SydneySundays – Life through the Eyes of a 19-year-old’ in which she tackles a variety of topics including `Goals (not resolutions)’ and `Understanding the word Value(able)’.
With plenty of time still ahead on the court before slipping into the broadcast booth, both Umeri and Suarez have very similar short-term basketball-centric goals.
“For me this year, I have been working on coming in and being ready to contribute, being a spark off the bench,” Umeri said. “I am trying to play relaxed and always be ready to go. You do a lot of training throughout the year and sometimes your confidence wavers but just knowing that you have the ability to do it and just settling down and doing it.”
“I have been working on getting to a place where when I get into a game, I am really able to contribute something,” Suarez said. “My outside game, especially my three-point shot, is the biggest thing that I am concentrating on right now. I come in every other night and I shoot some shots. After practice, I usually get up shots with a coach or one of our practice players.”