“Every day is different. You never know if there will be a bad game that blows up for some reason and becomes a highlight that wasn’t originally planned that gets moved to the top of the show,” said Alexandra Furlo ‘17. Before she began her successful video editing career with ESPN, she was a UMass Journalism student working closely with the UMass Athletics Department to make it all possible.
Her love for sports is almost intrinsic to her character. Furlo began competitive swimming and field hockey when she was only seven years old, tacking on lacrosse as well only five years later. While she had not chosen to pursue an athletic career in college, she knew the importance of playing a sport and wanted to integrate that in some way into her studies. That is when she decided to go into Broadcast Journalism.
Furlo was shown the ropes by collaborating with Sports Journalism Professor Steve Fox and recently retired Professor BJ Roche. Because of mentors like Fox and Roche and the extensive work with UMass Athletics, Furlo learned how to cover professional sports and grew to love the work she continues to do after college.
Like UMass Amherst, the ESPN campus spans more than 100 acres and possesses many qualities she expected to leave behind after graduating. “My first few days were overwhelming. It’s a huge campus and feels like a college in a sense,” said Furlo about her arrival to ESPN in Bristol, Conn. “It was pretty stressful, but just like UMass, there are a lot of people who are there to help you grow.”
As the famous saying goes, the third time was a charm. Furlo applied three times before she got hired by ESPN. Her stint with the sports broadcast giant began when she interned in Boston the winter of her senior year. It was during this time when she realized she wanted to continue her career with ESPN. However, without the push from her journalism professors and peers, it may have never been possible.
Before she was hired full-time as a video editor in September of 2019, she worked as an associate operator, spending most of her time in the control room playing clips out live to air. In essence, Furlo was doing the behind-the-scenes of the same play-by-play commentating she did for UMass Field Hockey while an undergrad.
Now she is occupied with all sorts of work, most of which she says goes toward the sports-news phenomenon Sports Center. “Based on the number of shows we have for the night, I could have anything coming in my room from the Dodgers highlights to Lakers highlights to just about everything,” she said. As Furlo mentioned before, the job is stressful, but like UMass, the ESPN campus is large and pervasive with people who are more than willing to help her out.
From one professional to another, Furlo has a few words of advice for UMass Journalism students pursuing a similar path, "ask a lot and ask often. If you want to work in sports, then go shadow someone who works in sports and take the time to set up a Zoom call and talk to them about their experiences,” Furlo said.
If she had not taken the same advice that she is passing on now, her career beyond UMass Amherst could have looked a whole lot different.This profile was written as a part of the 2021 Alumni Spotlight Series by students in the Writing for Public Relations course.