April 22, 2021

ESPN's Alyssa Lang on authenticity, "imposter syndrome" & donut fraud.

SEC Network's Alyssa Lang joins the show to discuss how a rap she made in college landed her a job at ESPN. She also gives some career advice for young people. Plus, she shares stories about a 16-mile hike gone horribly wrong, mistakes on live television (20:05) and how she built an on-air persona around...donuts?

You can also watch the podcast here.

Alyssa Lang is a 27-year-old TV host on SEC Network's "Thinking Out Loud," "Out of Pocket," and "SEC Now." She also hosts ESPN Radio shows and works the sidelines at SEC football and basketball games. Currently living in Charlotte, NC, she attended the University of South Carolina. In her spare time, you can find her working out, eating and playing with her adorable dog, Marvel.

Check her out on Twitter @alyssalang and on Instagram @alyssaglang. You won't regret it.

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Today's cause: The Humane Society of Charlotte, which believes in working to improve their community by creating new, loving families, and building a world where there are no more homeless and unwanted animals. You can donate here as part of the all-natural initiative.

Memorable quotes:

"You almost start to get bored with being someone else. You want to be creative and the only way you can be uniquely creative is by being yourself." - @alyssaglang on authenticity

"If you try to make everything go perfectly, you're going to neglect something and then it's all going to go haywire. Nothing is ever going to go according to script." @troy_farkas

"If you just keep showing up and being a good person and doing well, they can't really deny you, right?" @troy_farkas on persistence

"I knew that I was going to have to do the same thing at ESPN and earn the respect of my colleagues and the producers and anybody who I came in contact with, especially because I was young." @alyssalang on battling imposter syndrome

"At the end of the day, it's a constant battle and reminding yourself that you are there for a reason." @alyssaglang on battling imposter syndrome

"I know I'm not supposed to let it bother me and I know I'm supposed to ignore it and look at all the nice things, but that's really hard to do." @alyssaglang on dealing with Internet trolls

peace and love.


Super excited to welcome onto the show this week, a young woman who many would call a rising star in the media business. Uh, she is an awesome woman. I got the pleasure of getting to know her over the last few months. Uh, my tenure at ESPN. Unfortunately we didn't cross paths as earlier as, um, you know, as much as I would have liked to, but we worked together.

We never actually met in person, but I could tell. That you are a stud you are a great at what you do. You are an authentic, truly amazing, nice person. You have a great dog, which makes you even cooler. I'm of course, talking about Alyssa Lang my favorite Twitter follow in the entire world of all the people that I follow on Twitter.

She's got the best game at Alyssa Lang also on Instagram. If you've got a good hour to kill. Go through all of her stories that she has saved and see the videos that she has with her dog Marvel. And you will get some great laughs. So Alyssa, there's so much, I want to talk to you about today. Thank you for joining me.

How are you? Thank you for having me. I feel like I don't deserve that introduction at all, but I'll take it and I appreciate it. Um, and yeah, I, I have come to the conclusion that most people, if not all people only follow me now on social media for pictures of my dog, which again, I'm not mad at it. I do like I'm biased.

I know, but I do think he's one of the cutest dogs in the entire world. So I'm not mad about it. I will continue to post pictures and videos of him doing. Absolutely stupid stuff on a daily basis. As long as everyone enjoys it, it's a really good strategy. I'm actually considering getting a dog myself. I never grew up with a dog.

I never grew up with any animals in the household, but I kind of want to get one. Now I'm kind of entering the transition phase of my life, where, you know what I think I need to grow up a little bit and I need to get a dog. So do you have any advice for me in terms of. Getting the search going. And then when I do get a dog, how to exactly figure it out, because I don't have the first clue about how to take care of a dog.

I was gonna say, uh, it will definitely make you grow up very quickly, especially if you go the puppy route. Um, I grew up with dogs, so I sort of had an idea of what it was going to be like now. My childhood dog. I think we got when I was like seven or eight. So it was one of those things where my dad was like, you got to train it and Walker and take care of her.

And I was like, yeah. Okay, daddy. And then Bay ended up doing most of that stuff. Um, so I didn't have any experience actually training and taking care of an, of an infant dog, uh, slash puppy. So I will say. Read everything and watch YouTube videos, but all with the expectation that none of it might work.

When we got Marvel, he was like a little Tasmanian devil at all times, just going crazy around her apartment, chewing, everything barking at everything pooping on the floor. Five minutes after we had taken him out for 45 minutes. So, um, any expectations you have? I would say. Throw them out the window pack your patience.

Um, and everything will be okay within a couple of months because the pesky puppy stuff does start to wear off. Um, but at the end of the day, they're cute. And so you can't stay mad at them for to 100% recommend getting above. Okay. Yeah. The cuteness, my makeup for all the habits that they cause now. And one of your posts on IgG, you had said something like now I love a good one.

Story, especially a good hiking story that it sounds like ended up going wrong. A 16 mile accidental hike that Marvel went on and was very tired from what happened. This is probably one of the craziest things that I think has ever happened to me. Um, so it was probably about a month or two ago now. And I had some family from Florida and Pennsylvania.

My dad is up in Pennsylvania. My, uh, aunts and uncles are down in Florida. And it had obviously been over a year since we had all seen each other because of COVID. Um, so they all got their vaccines. Came up to the mountains in North Carolina for a week. And because I'm only about two hours away, I was like, you know what, between work, I'm going to drive out there, hanging out with you guys for a day or two, then come back to Charlotte.

So the day I drove up there, uh, I met them at a hiking trail at the foot of one of these mountains. It was about noon. Um, my uncle had two dogs and I had Marvel and Marvel and I hike around Charlotte all the time, but this was a little more intense because it was an actual mountain. So like, Very steep, winding trees down, all this stuff.

So we're walking on a pretty laid back trail for about an hour. And then my uncle goes, okay, well, we can do one of the. Legit hiking trails, which is a loop around. It might take a little while, but we can do that. Or we can walk back to the car. So the group of, I guess, was five of us, three dogs. We're like, let's go hike.

I mean, like we're thinking it'll be an hour or two, not too bad. So we're hiking and we're hiking. And now it's about three o'clock and then about four o'clock. And we start saying like, you know what, can't wait to get back to the car. We're going to go to the brewery and get some food. And like a couple of beers.

It is five o'clock and we're like, okay, are we lost? Because we've been walking for five hours and there's no end in sight. Um, there were not a lot of signage or there was not a lot of signage for like, You know, exit this way, it was just kind of more trails and the sign to more trails. Um, so this whole time, keep in mind, we don't have any service, no cell phone service or anything like that because we're in the middle of the mountain.

Um, so it was about five 30 when I started to panic a little bit, like we're truly lost. I've got this 20 pound dog who has hiked probably 12 miles at this point. This is crazy. So then my uncle, my dad kind of get into it because my uncle wants to go to the right. My dad wants to go to the left and my uncle is like, this is the right way.

My dad's like the map says we have to go this way. And so I'm standing in the middle, like we're lost, we're going to die out here. Um, at one point, pretty sure we heard a bear. Um, so then we keep walking, we go with my dad's version. We keep walking. Um, this is going to be a long story. I should have know. I love this.

Didn't know I had something very similar happened to me. So I'm all here for it. So we keep walking. And at this point, like I was just wearing tennis shoes and it had been raining for the week before. So I'm covered in mud blisters, fully forming at this point and out of food because I packed like one granola bar thinking this is going to be two hour hike, hour hike.

So, I guess somewhere along this trail, my dad's girlfriend gets some cell phone reception, unbeknownst to the rest of us calls nine one one. So nine one one pings her location and they're like, okay, you're going to keep walking on the trail that you're on. If you do not stop, you will make it before nightfall, because this was before spring forward daylight savings.

So it was getting dark around like six, six 30. They were like, do not stop it's another six and a half miles. And we were like, you, what? Like we've already been hiking for almost two hours at this point. So we're all like full meltdown mode. We take off like power walking basically, but knowing that you have to power walk and other six.

Miles is, um, it's, it's not like doesn't give you a lot of confidence. So, uh, we ended up making it really like right as it was getting dark. Uh, my dad who's in his fifties was not in great shape. He ended the hike by the end of it that well he's in physically probably better shape now. Definitely gotta work out.

Uh, the craziest part though, were the three dogs who never stopped the entire time. We're full of energy. I mean, we got back to the car and Marvel pretty much just collapsed in the back of my car. Um, but I was so mad at him because by the time we got back, To the Airbnb. I was staying in, gave him a, a bath full bath time zoomies afterwards at 10 o'clock after hiking, what our iPhone told us was 16 miles.

And then he was up at six 45 the next morning, ready to play. And I was like, okay. So when I say dogs are a lot of work, That's 16 miles up and down a mountain didn't even tire this kid out. So that's incredible. That's a, that's a great resilience story right there. I take inspiration from Marvel. We were in pain.

I don't think Marvel was now when I got home, I think he slept for the next like two and a half days straight or to do anything. So he must've just been on like a hikers hires. He never got that beer that night. No. Um, I don't think my feet hit the floor, uh, where I was staying until like eight 30, nine o'clock because by the time we got back to the car, it was probably around seven.

Um, so our two hour hike turned into a six to seven hour hike and 16 miles. And I haven't hiked since then. Yeah. I don't blame you. I similarly duped a friend into thinking that we were just going to do like a. 90 minute hike. It also became very similar story where the police were called. It became a seven hour hike and ended up in a different state than where I started.

So I totally like police dispatchers. Do you think I just go home and they're like, I had another 12 hikers call me today. Loss. Like they must just so annoyed with just idiots, like us who get lost on a hiking trail. Oh yeah, for sure. Uh, well, that's a great story. Thank you for sharing. Uh, this is. The, uh, the treasures of exploring.

I love exploring, uh, but Alyssa, so on this show, we'd like to talk to people about people in their twenties, people who are going through the grind, navigating the highs and lows of early adulthood. You're 27. And so when I look at you and what you do on TV, on radio, on social media, just in general life, you seem to be killing it.

And what I love most about you is that you fully lean into being you and what I think. And I find that rare among people in our demographic, because when you're coming up, you're kind of told to, to follow the rules, to bend to what everyone wants you to be and et cetera, et cetera. There's really not much room for leaning into your own personality and being who you are, kind of like similar, um, early on in a relationship you don't want to show all your true colors.

You don't want to scare off the other person. That stuff comes over time, but you conversely very early on decided I'm going to be Alyssa Lang. I'm going to talk about my dog. I'm going to have a show where I talk about donuts and all of these things. These are the things you love. Where does that ability to be authentically you come from.

You know, that's, uh, an easy, but yeah, tough question at the same time. It certainly wasn't always like that. Uh, when I started in TV, I did exactly what you just said. And I looked at the people who I thought were really good at this job, and I just tried to imitate them because I was like, well, I'm not going to make it.

If I don't talk like Maria Taylor, if I don't, you know, host a show like Reese Davis. And then I think just the more comfortable I got. Being in the environment of TV being in front of a camera, the more you almost. Start to get like bored with being someone else and you want to be creative. And the only way that you can be uniquely creative is by being yourself.

Um, so to take some risks, what I would have considered risks maybe early in my career and writing a sports cast that didn't sound like a normal back-to-back-to-back highlights sports cast, and you start to get feedback from people who really connect with you. And I think that's. The name of the game when it comes to not just TV, but sports broadcasting, and in any kind of entertainment, you know, you're sitting at home and, and you know, this was during my local news career.

You've got four minutes to connect with an audience sometimes less than that. Uh, and I always really wanted to let our viewers feel like they knew me, or we were just at a bar at a restaurant talking about sports and. I guess I've always just dialed back into my sports fandom because at the end of the day, that's why we do this.

You love sports, you enjoy the game, you grew up a sports fan, no matter what that was. And I always just felt like that was important for that to come out. And I think then naturally, Your own sports fandom, and what makes you a sports fan just sort of naturally begins to develop. So I think it takes time.

And to your point, a lot of people are told, like, you know, you need to do this or you need to do that. And I think it's definitely a comfortability thing. Uh, at the same time, once I. Realized when push comes to shove, what's going to come out is your pure, authentic self. Uh, that was really important. And I had someone early in my career tell me, you know, when something goes wrong in TV, uh, it's going to go really.

And if you are so wrapped up in trying to pretend or be Erin Andrews and the teleprompter dies, or your live shot goes out or the wrong highlight comes up. Your brain is going to be too worried about keeping up that. Persona. That's not you to react to what it is that's going wrong. When things hit the fan, your pure, authentic self is going to come out, whether that's good or bad, or whether or not you're comfortable with it.

So that really spoke to me and I wanted to make sure that. At all times, I never had to worry about not being genuine, um, which isn't easy because then you have to accept that if someone doesn't like you on TV, then they probably won't like you in real life either. Um, but that sort of just is what it is.

I, I love to hear that that comes across though, because I do try to do every show. Like I would, if I were sitting at home on my couch watching that game or watching that event, asking those same questions or having those same conversations. Um, so I really appreciate that, that you say that that comes out.

Um, I would always give that advice to anybody who's doing. This is to just try to. Put the walls down and be you. I know it's hard, but it's, it's worth it. Yeah. It certainly comes across that way. And I think, you know, especially in our generation right now, we are so concerned about what other people think of us.

We are so concerned about how we look, what we say, do we sound intelligent? You know, obviously we curate our social media feeds in a certain way. So because we want people to view us in a certain light previous generations didn't really have to deal with that. We're kind of on all the time. And so there's, there's a pressure that comes with that.

Now I'm curious, um, in the media industry, I just want to go down this rabbit hole really quickly. Things hit the fan. Uh, it's happened to me in radio and in podcasts. I've certainly been the cause of some of those problems before. What are some things that have happened to you? Live on air. Totally unexpected that derailed the show.

Oh man. Um, more things than I can count. Even my last show on Saturday, uh, we were doing th this was. Might've been one of the craziest shows I've been a part of, um, usually during whatever season it is, you know, you have a host and then you have an analyst who either played the game or coach the game or whatever it is.

Um, and in this year of doing zoom TV, whether you have the analyst in person, typically they're on zoom or, or something to help you with the show, this was a weird Saturday where it was just me. And that was just so low for our 30 minute show. This, this was just a few days ago and we had 30 events. Games things to pack into a 30 minute show.

So about 23 to 24 minutes of TV. Uh, so we actually put an event counter on the screen to say, all right, we've done six baseball games, seven softball games. You've got to talk about the golf match up, whatever. So I went into it and I was like, man, I'm a little nervous. Like if I, you know, get tongue tied or forget where we are, I don't have an analyst to bail me out.

Like it's just me on this Island. And, uh, at the beginning of the show, I got my wires crossed and I'm thinking, all right, spring football, we're going to Arkansas first. So I like fully introduced the segment spring balls back. Nobody's more excited than this linebacker out in Arkansas thinking, all right, we're going to roll the soundbite.

And then their producers in my ear. Like, no we're doing Alabama first and so immediately. And I'm sure awkwardly. I was like, just kidding, got a little too excited. We're actually going to Tuscaloosa first. So that was kind of one of those things where like, it's not the end of the world. Certainly. I hate to make that mistake.

And I wish I didn't. Um, but if, again, I had been like too locked into doing something. There was certainly a time in my career where just doing that would have thrown me right. Fully off. Um, but you know, we keep it rolling and it is what it is and he can't let it. Affect you because you've still got another 25 minutes of TV to do.

So that one was just a few days ago. I remember early in my local TV career. Gosh, things used to happen under resourced, understaffed. Like it's often a chicken wire production. Doesn't it usually doesn't seem that way, but it is. Yeah. Well, and that's why I'm always, like, I always still try to defend local Newsies on, on social media when people are just like getting out, like that show was I'm like, you probably have no clue what was going on in the background of that show.

So I've had the teleprompter cut out halfway through my beat, me reading it. I have had. A highlight. I've been halfway through a highlight and all of a sudden the highlight light goes to black and it's gone and I'm on camera. And I'm like, Oh, I guess we'll be right back. You know, like, I don't know what's going on.

Um, I've had, uh, man situations happen in live shots where people have yelled things in the background that probably. We wish didn't make air. So it's, it's very much about rolling with the punches. I think in this business. And one thing that I still have to remind myself to this day is that you rarely have a perfect show.

Like you want it to be perfect obviously, and you work all day for it to be perfect, but it's not the end of the world. Maybe you slip up over your words or something like that, like information we want to get. Correct. Um, but you know, I spent 20 minutes kicking myself after that show on Saturday with the spring game thing.

And then it was like, okay, Move on. Got to move on. You're only as good as so, so, um, yeah. And anything can go wrong back in my back of my basketball playing days. My coach used to always tell this us on defense. You said, if you try to stop everything, you'll stop nothing. And I kind of apply that to all, all things in life.

If you try to make everything go perfectly, you're going to neglect something and then it's all going to go haywire. Nothing is ever going to go according to the script. So you just gotta do what you do, except it roll with the punches. And be you. So I love that, that you are fully conscious of that. So rare for someone so young to have that.

Um, now going back to your earlier career days, this is the traditional path for, you know, a reporter who wants to get into TV. You graduate college, you go to a small market. This is generally how it works. You go to a small market in Mississippi, in Montana and North Dakota, whatever you kind of do that circuit for a few years, you're in market one 75, then market one 10, and then 50.

And then you just keep going up and up and up. Now, what did you think when you got out of college, what did you think your path was going to look like? So I, I honestly wasn't. Entirely sure. In college, I was very focused on the next day. What am I doing tomorrow? What am I doing to put myself in the best position to have a job when I graduate college?

Because that was something that early on was made very clear to me. I didn't know anyone in the business, none of my family had done anything like this. So, um, you know, when I was talking to professors at various. Schools. I went to a journalism camp actually, when I was in high school. Um, it was crazy. Uh, but at something that everyone kept telling me was just how competitive it was and how will you have to make sure that you love it because you're going to be broke for the first couple of years and you're going to work long hours.

And I'm a very competitive person, I think, by nature. So when I started to hear that, it was like, okay, well, I'm going to make sure that. I'm at the top of everybody's list and I'm the first one in the door. So when I got to South Carolina, um, I was very focused on like, what job can I possibly do outside of class?

That's going to help me in the business. Um, and so it was sort of just a snowball effect for me. Honestly, I did a couple of internships and then my sophomore year. I started, uh, after an internship, I started working part-time at the station that I had interned at shooting high school football, and then truly like that turned into shooting more stuff for them on Sundays.

And then that turned into them calling me in sometimes on weeknights, when I was done with class. And then that turned into, Hey, can you work the assignment desk this weekend? And then that turned into like, Punching the audio board and scrolling the teleprompter. And then before I knew it, I was spending like all of my spare time, uh, at this local news station.

And then two years goes by. And at this point I had made good enough friends with some of my coworkers that they let me do like big sports casts and run through things on the desk. Um, so enough time went by. And before I knew it, the weekend sports anchor there, his deal was up. And I had been there for a while and I was a year from graduating and I tell every young person this, I literally went to my boss and asked for the job.

I was like, I'm here. I'll do it. I'll schedule my classes to be done. It. 2:00 PM. So I can come in and work evenings. Cause that's for anyone who doesn't know typically how sports works in local news, unless there's something going on in the morning, which they're often. Yeah. Um, your normal quote unquote day would be like two 30 to 1130 is the technical shift.

Um, so by some stroke of. Miracle. She said, yes. Uh, we'll give you this job. Uh, so I started, I signed a contract to do that right before I started my senior year. And then that was the hardest year of my entire life doing two full semesters of classes and working full time at the station as well. So, uh, long story long, I wouldn't say that I always envisioned working in local news, or I thought that that's where I was going to end up.

I knew that that was always. A path that was highly encouraged by people to go down because of just how beneficial it is to your career longterm. Um, but for me, it just kind of happened because I just kept showing up and asking for jobs to do so. Uh, I am very thankful. That that is the path that I went down because I truly don't think I would have been ready to do the job that I have now had I not gone through to local news markets.

Yeah. I think that that's an awesome story, by the way. Thank you for sharing. I think there's a couple of lessons to be taken from that. Is just being persistent and keep showing up is so important. I mean, people might, might think you're annoying. People might be like, cut. Alyssa's here again. What is she doing here?

Doesn't she have class, shouldn't she be out partying, whatever, like leave me alone. Uh, but it is a Testament to, if you just keep showing up and, you know, you keeping a good person and doing well, well, they can't really deny you. Right. And also. Whatever job it is. You want obviously do whatever your assigned job is, but whatever it is that you actually want to be doing, just keep like, keep watering it, keep watering it like a plant every day.

Whether, you know, it's a famous story. And in this business where, you know, you're working in HR or you're working behind the scenes, but you want to be on air and then you go, you know, for an hour, once a week, The producer takes you to the old studio in the back and you record something for your reel or whatever, and then it just snowballs effect.

So similar story there for you. So that's awesome. Now going forward a little bit. So, like you bounced around in South Carolina, then you into Jacksonville and then somehow then you get to ESPN, like a massive jump. How did that happen? So this is going to kind of go back to your first topic and just sort of being you.

And in this case, it means me being stupid. I was in college. And my party trick, if you will was, and I'm being 100% serious. When I say this, my party trick was a, a rap about the Gamecocks and I had this rap like a two or three minute rap song. That was pretty good if I may say so myself, uh, memorized and my friends all like thought it was this really cool thing.

And so, you know, we'd be out and enjoying ourselves having a good time and they'd be like, do the rap because at the time to South Carolina was pretty good at football. Um, so we were always on our high horses about South Carolina being like on top of the world. So I would do this rap and then one day.

I'm sitting in the journalism school, working on an assignment and I pull up the webcam. We have these new Mac computers at the time, and I just recorded the rat, me doing the rat and I put it on YouTube. Um, and so this was, I think my freshman year, couple of weeks later, I happened to check the link and there's like 2000 views on this rap.

And I'm like, well, the world is so weird. And then I wake up to an email from a producer at ESPN, you and he produced a show called college football daily at the time his name was barren Miller. And he was like, Hey, I found your rap on YouTube. Can we use it on the show? So I'm sitting here like, okay, this is so stupid that they're asking me this.

At the same time we talked about making sure you're in the room and asking for things. So I emailed him back and I'm like, yeah, you can absolutely use it. But by the way, I'm only like 80 minutes down the road in Columbia. If you want me to come up to the Charlotte studios where you're at, like, anytime you need anything, like if you ever need help with anything, if I can get coffee, like let me know.

In the meantime, you know, anything from Columbia, you need just, don't hesitate to reach out. So barren emails back immediately. And he's like, yeah, why don't you just come on the show? And so I'm 19 years old. I'm like, okay. So I drive up to Charlotte and they had me read Twitter questions to Jason Seehorn and Matt Schick.

And I think, see horn was like, this shows going to the dogs. We've got this girl on here, rapping, and this video is ridiculous. Um, so. That was awesome. And I went back to South Carolina, graduated, went the local news route, but that producer Baron and I kept up through the years, added him on Facebook. I would send him my local TV reels probably once a year.

And so I'm sitting in my house in Jacksonville, getting ready to go to work one day, I guess it would have been spring 2018, um, January, February, 2018. And he. Texts me. I hadn't heard from him in probably a year. And he was like, Hey, are you interested in getting out of Jacksonville and coming to the sec network?

And I was like, uh, yeah. Yes, that's a dream job. Absolutely. Would, what do you need from me? Um, so I came up for an audition. Did the interview a couple months later, got an offer to come to Charlotte at sec network and the rest is kind of history. So, uh, again, a really out of the box story, I met the guy who helped me get to ESPN because of a rap.

Wow. That's a, that's not where I expected that story to land. Uh, that's amazing. Okay. Wow. That's stupid. It's so stupid. That's incredible. Wow, good for you. Okay. So, I mean, you got to use speed on that. At what age? Like 24, 24, 22. I was, I think I had just turned 26. I had just turned 26 because I came up in the summer.

Um, and I, I think I have my timeline, right. Because I always was doing Jags, uh, training camp during my birthday. Cause I'm an end of July birthday. And so I would just be sweating my butt off at camp, like on my birthday. And I think. I did that and then came up to Charlotte. So I think I was, I was 26. So I think a lot of us, you know, when we're young and as we progress, we wonder if we belong.

Right. You know, we we've gone through all the training, but we don't have that many years of experience where. Likely in a room with people who have been at it for decades, who are older than us, who are wiser than us, who make more money than us, all of these things. So you then immediately go onto a national network at a very young age.

What was going through your mind at that particular time? Man. I mean, it was overwhelming. And now that I think about it, I think you're right. I was 25 at the time. My math is wrong, bad at math. That's why I'm in journalism. It was wildly overwhelming. Um, I still, to this day, struggle with imposter syndrome, the phrases.

Um, it's really easy to do that. I think in, in any industry that you're in, everyone has those moments of self doubt. I was really lucky to have experienced a lot in my time in local TV that at the time felt like the end of the world and the worst thing ever. And I actually, a month before Baron called me about the ESPN opportunity, I was on like the second or third interview, trying to get a job out of TV, like a marketing job.

And I, I mean, I was this close. And I'm so thankful I didn't get that job because I think I might've taken it. And I can't imagine what my life would look like now. I mean, I'm sure it would have been fine and I would hope everything would have worked out, but. I'm just so happy with where I'm at now. I'm like, Oh my gosh, could you imagine if I had actually taken that, that, that gig?

Um, but when I got to ESPN, it was all of a sudden like, Oh my gosh, like, right.

And that's, that's how it felt. You know, I, I knew that I had worked really hard to get to where I was and I knew I had put the time in and I knew that. I was going to have to do the same thing at ESPN and earn the respect of my colleagues and the producers and anybody who I came in contact with, especially because I was young.

Um, I had experienced. At times in my career, walking into a locker room or a press room and getting eyes from people who were three times my age, like, what are you doing here? Get out of here, you know, high schooler, I mean called intern to my base, which like, that's fine, whatever, I don't care. Um, but it it's a lot and I was very.

Very thankful. And I'm still very thankful to this day that when I started, I started on the show that I did, and that was with, uh, Greg McElroy and Marcus Spears on thinking out loud. And they immediately became like my big brothers. I mean, they had every reason to just ignore me until we had to go on camera and, you know, throw me to the wolves or whatever it was, not that they would ever do that.

Knowing them now. But I didn't know what I was walking into. And. The warm reception that they gave me and the, what do you need? What can we do come to dinner with us after the show? Uh, and still to this day, every time like Marcus sees me doing something, he texts me and hypes me up. So I was very thankful to have those two guys.

And that helps a lot. When your coworkers obviously, Think you're good at what you do and are excited to be there. But at the end of the day, it's a constant, I think, battle and reminding yourself that you are there for a reason. And the only person who can really prove otherwise is is you. Um, so when I'm getting ready for shows and things like that, that's what really motivates me when I'm preparing for.

A new softball season or next seasons, you know, football match ups. And the questions that we've got to address across the sec is I want to make sure that I can put my best foot forward, always. And that to me starts with preparation. So that's always what I go back to is not to necessarily prove anybody else wrong, but to make sure that I go to work everyday, knowing that I know what I'm talking about and I'm supposed to be here.

On a similar note, you of course, want to want to prove yourself, right? The producers, the people you're working with, but you're also got an audience, a much bigger audience than you had ever had before. And so obviously people are people and, you know, people can be keyboard warriors these days. So for whatever reason, You know, you're the nicest person in the world.

You're great at what you do, but I imagine you receive some clap back from people that you've never met on social media and on other platforms. So when you see those kinds of comments, messages come through. How do you react and try not to let it get the best of you? Yeah. I mean, I'm not going to lie.

It's something I'm not good at when I get tweets or messages saying that I'm terrible at my job. Or like disgusting to look at things like that. I mean, it, it bothers me. Um, I know I'm not supposed to let it bother me and I know I'm supposed to ignore it and look at all the nice things, but that's really hard to do.

Um, I've gotten better at it, certainly at the beginning. That was always something that, I mean, I'd think about it for days. Someone would send me a tweet about like, I can't believe you said that about Alabama's office. Like you idiot and I'd I'd stew over it. Like, man, it was that like, was I wrong? Like did I say something that was out of line?

Um, I think it's just purely boils down to a mindset and, and self-talk, uh, that's something that I've really learned over the last year or so is I can wake up every morning and tell myself, you know, you've done the work, you have this opinion, whatever it is. Nobody can tell you otherwise. And while that's true, I think it's also important to remember that like it's okay.

That when people say mean things, it bothers you like they're mean things, but I really focus on for every one mean thing. There are 10 people who have gone out of their way to say something nice to me or. Former coworkers who have sent a message and said like, Oh, I saw you on TV tonight. Like you were crushing it or a college student or a young girl who says like, I want to do what you do when I grew up.

And like, that's what you have to really remind yourself. Is there are more good people in the world than there are those bad people. And in the moment, it can be really hard to remember that. Um, but when I go to sleep at night, I have to make sure I really tell myself. And, and again, like, Good. Self-talk as far as I know my heart and I'm not perfect.

And I'm sure there are times that I'm going to say something that is wrong or crazy or whatever it is. Um, but it's also not always about being right all the time, just because you cover something doesn't mean, you know, everything about it. Um, I think if you're not learning anymore, then what's the point of doing this.

So. The internet trolls, they stink, but the warriors that are at your back, I think there there's just so many more. And that's what I try to focus on. Amen. Amen. On the show last week, we had someone who's big on IgE and on Tik TOK and deals with a lot of similar comments that are just totally unnecessary.

People are just terrible. Um, I don't know why there's something genetically within us that makes us want to keep looking. We know if we open that notification that it's going to be bad. I don't know why we do it, but we do. And you know, on a lower level, like when I was at ESPN and working on high-profile podcasts and radio shows, I would get comments too about, Oh, you, you don't know what you're talking about.

Emma mags. I was very new to sport. I didn't know what I was talking about, but I let it, I let people get to me and it's hard and it's hard to shut it off. You can consciously. Keep that self, that positive self-talk coming, but it's still hard to overcome. I remember early on in my first. Local station one of the lead anchor saying to me, don't ever read the comments, post that story on Facebook, and you're going to want to go through the comments to read them just don't.

And I have made the mistake of doing that a few times. I actually caught myself a few weeks ago. I was, I was. Searching for things trying to put together some clips from the last couple of years, just cause I like to hang on to things. And I had slacked off a little bit on saving stuff. So I'm looking at, what's been posted on Twitter and I ended up on ESPN Facebook page and looking at this video and then there's this comment.

And I wasn't like. Seeking it out, but I just kind of happened to see it. And of course it was like, I think the comment was like, I'm sure you're a nice person, but you are atrocious at this job. Like, okay, well this is the worst one that I've gotten in my life, but I still was just like, dang, I always having a good day.

And I saw that. So, um, you know, it's, it's tough when we live in this age of like, you. You don't have to do anything like anybody can just seek you out and send their thoughts to you. Um, but I also do remind myself and will tell other people that don't, don't go looking for it. Don't go try, don't search your name and Twitter.

I will say I've never done that. Um, and I never, I hope I never will. But there are ways to avoid. Yeah. Yeah. Uh, I always just say loving kindness, just be the bigger person, no matter what, when, whenever people would comment on me, I would literally comment back to whatever means thing. They said peace and love, and that was the end of conversation.

That's the way to shut them up. Uh, so I've got one more question on your career and then we'll talk about the, the real hard hitting stuff here. Um, so you're 27 and you were already kind of. At the pinnacle in terms of the company in your field, obviously there's, there's much more left for you to do. I'm curious, what, what is it that you're exactly striving for?

What, what do you envision for your future? You know, it's a good question. I think if you had asked me before I got to ESPN, like what the end goal was, I probably would have told you like, Oh, I want to be a sports center anchor, or, you know, one of like the daily NFL shows or something like that. And now having been here for almost, I guess, three years now, which is crazy to say.

I've gotten to do things that I'd never been able to do before in local sports, like field anchoring. Um, when we go to basketball or baseball or softball tournaments, and you've got the desk in the outfield with the game behind you or court side, whatever it is, that to me is so fun. Uh, those are my favorite environments to be in.

It's just literally in the thick of it. I'm doing a show doing TV all day long. I think it's awesome. It's exhausting, but it's awesome. So whenever I get asked that question now, it's it's. Tough because I'm in a situation where I do get to be in the building and on the desk in the studio doing shows, but then, you know, in a non COVID year, I also get to do sideline reporting and the field anchoring and hosting and.

I love being able to do all of that. Uh, so if you told me that there was a position for me to be able to do more of those things, uh, throughout the company, you know, whether it is an NFL level or the NBA level or sports center or whatever that is, uh, I'd be ecstatic. If you told me that I got to do all of those things.

So I've gotten in this. In this position where like, I don't want to put myself in a box of like, I want to be a studio host forever love being a studio host, but also love doing sat and reporting and things like that. So, um, I hope to be in that sort of hybrid position for as long as possible, whatever they tell me to do, I will do it.

Um, I truly enjoy both, but hopefully that's sort of my path, you know, I always watched. Recent company on college game day and was like, that would be amazing like that, that is the pinnacle of. Of, to me, you know, sports broadcasting is what being on one of those flagship shows. So, uh, they're obviously not going anywhere for a long, long time.

So I'm perfectly content watching, but something along those lines I think would be, would be really cool if I got to do that one day. Well, I think, uh, You might need to take a page out of your, your former books here and either write a rap song or just barge into someone's office and just say, Hey, can I, can I have this job?

Exactly. Uh, all right. So we talked a bit about social media. Your IgE bio says you miss. This is very profound. You miss 100% of the donuts you don't eat. Uh, why is that your, your IgG bio? So everybody, uh, everybody kind of, I think associates me with the doughnut thing, cause that's sort of the brand that I have created, but that's pretty recent brand to build around, you know, I it's, it worked.

Um, and it's, it's an interesting story. Again, this is one that I share with college students and up-and-comers as well. Um, I started at the sec network in 2018, and I knew that it was such a. Almost like fraternity when it comes to this conference, the coaches know each other, they're in group chats, the players, the coordinators, they know the people at the sec network.

And I was like, well, man, I'm new. I got to make sure that like, I can start having a good relationship with some of these coaches so that when I go to these games, they'll know who I am and we can have those good conversations. So my first game was an Ole miss game and I remember getting an. And I didn't know the play by play guy or the color commentator.

And I was driving to the stadium and of course I left for Friday meetings, like 30 minutes early. Cause I didn't want to be late. And I passed this. Mom and pop donut shop in Oxford. And at the time, like I loved donuts. I love anything sweet. Um, so I walk in and they said, when did you, what do you want? And I was like, you know what, just give me a dozen of your best ones.

I'm just going to bring them with me as like a, you know, here you go. I'm Alyssa, here's some donuts. Um, and there's really no better way to win people over then with food. So when I showed up with these 12 beautiful donuts, not only all of the sudden did my new ESPN crew, like me a little bit more, but the players who came in and the coaches who came in when I just put them on the table, uh, in our pre-game meetings were like, Oh, okay, cool.

Like donuts. So then it became a thing with my ESPN crews. You know, the play by play guy told the play by play guy. I worked with the next week, like, yeah, she brought donuts last week. So then it became an expectation that I would bring donuts. So that turned into what I called, uh, that the college football doughnut tour and every city that I traveled to, I would go to a different local doughnut place.

Get donuts for the crew. If we were going to Friday meetings, bring donuts there. Uh, so that's how that all kind of started. And then, because social media is a terrible, but also beautiful tool to meet people. I had fans from other. City saying like, Oh, when you come to Knoxville, like you gotta check out this donut place or like, we've got a great one in Tuscaloosa.

So, um, not only can you bond with coworkers over food, but, but people on the internet as well. So that's how that, Oh man, I absolutely love that. Okay. So I was earning the impression that you were a donut and a fistula natto that you were eating all these donuts now. Okay. So I was thinking that. You know, you're eating all these donuts by yourself that you're sharing it with, you know, a dozen donuts, but that you and maybe like two other people are scarfing these down.

So I was thinking, man, Alyssa, she seems pretty fit. She seems like a pretty health conscious person, but here she is just scarfing down donuts. Now this is something that I struggle with. I struggle enjoying really good food. Like a donut donuts are great, but I struggle enjoying it, knowing that. You know, it's probably not great for you and all that, all that good stuff.

I drive myself crazy over. How do you try to find the balance between enjoying and not enjoying too much? So this might, this might in some eyes make me a fraud to some people. I don't care because this is my strategy. So when I have gone to doughnut places, there's one, for example, in Fayetteville, Arkansas, I can't remember what it's called.

Um, but it was fantastic. And I'll walk into these donut shops sometimes and just see so many that I want. And I have a big sweet tooth, like crazy sweet tooth. Love dessert. So I will get them and, you know, like typically I'll get a box for the crew and then I'll pick like the three or four that I think look good so that I'm not showing up with a box of donuts that are half gone.

Um, and I'll just, I'll just cut them in like quarters. And so that I can kind of, it's like donut sharkutery like I kind of sample each doughnut. So then I'm not eating. Four huge donuts, the size of my face, but rather I'm getting a little bit of each one. So that's sort of my go-to, um, sampling method.

When I do this. Now, if I go to Krispy Kreme right now, I'll eat three donuts immediately, but I also am a big gym person and I probably would consider myself a gym rat. So I do a lot of cardio to make up for what I do. Absolutely house. Yes. I, uh, just this past weekend I was enjoying a great cinnamon roll, but there's just something in me that, you know, third bite on that sin roll.

I'm like, all right, I already know I'm going to have to run three miles tomorrow. It's absolute craziness. Like I wish I wish I didn't view it that way, but young people metabolism normally, you know, it actually doesn't. I ended up harming me as, and that's another reason why I'm kind of like, you know what, there will be one day that maybe I can't act this way, but as of right now, like I can go do my couple miles on the treadmill and my cardio the next day.

And as of right now, I'm okay. So maybe one day I'll have to stop. Absolutely love it. All right, Alyssa, thank you for your time. We'll get you out of here on this last question. Every week on the Thursday podcast. Uh, our guests comes on as part of the all natural initiative as we call it comes on and talks about a charity and organization a cause that's meaningful to them that it's either impacted you directly or someone you love, whatever it is.

So, Alyssa, what is your cause and why have you chosen it? Yeah. So I'm a big animal person. We talked about dogs at the beginning of the show and every city I've lived, I've lived in, I've either tried to volunteer or go out to events at the local humane society or whatever their shelter is for dogs and cats or whatever animals.

So here in Charlotte, it's the Charlotte humane society. And that's where I. Try to donate as much as I can. I had a rescue puppy growing up and she was just the best dog ever. Um, we just randomly walked into a PetSmart one day and they had them outside and I think they were, uh, a batch of puppies that were not going to fare very well if they weren't adopted.

So we scooped up the cutest one and she gave me. The best 15 years of my life. So I'm always very partial to rescue animals and, and trying to help them. So, uh, Charlotte, Charlotte humane society holds up a close place in my heart. Thank you for sharing that. We will put, um, some information about the Charlotte humane society in the episode notes of this podcast.

Uh, I don't think those those 15 years would be the best of your life. I think you've got many great years ahead of you. Again, you're 27. You're killing it. You are a rising star. You were just on the cusp of even better things. Alyssa, thank you for joining me today. It's been a pleasure to reconnect with you and I'm traveling a bunch of this year.

So if I, if I make it to Charlotte, I will certainly stop by. We can get some donuts and coffee. Absolutely. Thank you for having me, Troy.