What’s it like to work at ESPN? Baylor alum shares ‘dream job’ as ESPN content creator
Like many sports fans, Deonte Epps (BA ’13) grew up watching SportsCenter, dreaming of someday being a part of the network. Unlike many sports fans, Epps has actually made it happen.
Last year, Epps was accepted into the ESPN Next program for a competitive and coveted post as an ESPN production assistant. Aspiring producers from around the country apply for the posts, which get their foot in the door at “the worldwide leader in sports.” When Epps was accepted, he and his wife, Carina (Yebra) Epps (BBA ’15), suddenly found themselves making seismic changes, rapidly moving from Texas to Connecticut to take advantage of a dream opportunity.
The road to ESPN for Epps was paved with effort and experiences that made him a more well-rounded candidate. After graduating from Baylor, he worked his way up from production assistant to photographer to reporter at KXXV, Waco’s ABC affiliate. Along the way, he found himself wanting to pursue a career that would allow him to give back to community — so he went into coaching and teaching in his native Killeen, and then in Waco.
But even as Epps enjoyed working with young people, he couldn’t shake the sports broadcasting bug. Along with a longtime friend, he launched The Duo: Sports and Stuff Podcast, which eventually boasted appearances from high-profile guests such as college basketball analyst Jay Bilas and former ESPN personality Trey Wingo (BA ’85), another Baylor alum who blazed a trail to ESPN.
The numerous strands of Epps’ career stood out among other applicants when he applied for the ESPN Next program, providing a well-rounded array of experiences that now shape his work there. Upon arrival at ESPN’s headquarters, Epps was immersed into the Emmy-winning Outside the Lines program, now a regular SportsCenter segment and digital series. In production meetings, he was expected to generate content ideas and pitch them to veteran producers and reporters. Epps quickly learned to overcome nerves and speak up on the topics or ideas he’d researched prior to the pitch.
Among his early success stories was the moving “Battlefields to Ballfields” piece on Outside the Lines, about a program connecting returning veterans to their community by officiating sporting events. The show aired on Veterans Day, and Epps was allowed to produce the segment — a rare honor for a production assistant only a few months into his/her tenure. Since then, his pitches have led to stories on an increase in great individual scoring performances in the NBA, buyout money paid to fired head coaches in college football, and more. In addition to Outside the Lines, he also works with podcasts like ESPN Daily and other productions.
What started off as surreal is now part of the daily job for Epps. He hopes to eventually earn a spot as a content associate when his fellowship is through, and to become a full-time content creator.
“It’s exciting to share my story, because sometimes people feel like they don’t have a path to their dreams, or they look at where they are and think they can’t get to where they want to be,” says Epps. “I’m here with some people straight out of college, and I’ve been out in the working world, but having those multiple careers all played a role in landing my dream job, and I’m blessed to have the support of my wife and family who encouraged me to pursue it.”
Sic ’em, Deonte Epps!