Tonight CBS Sports will be courtside in Minneapolis to cover 2019 NCAA Division I Men’s National Championship Game between Texas Tech and Virginia. It marks the end of March Madness and it also is the last major event for a while for in-game reporter Tracy Wolfson.
This will be the fifth year that she will join Jim Nantz, Grant Hill and Bill Raftery for the network’s coverage of one of the sports world’s biggest and most loved events.
For Wolfson it has already been a big year starting with a full season of NFL football, the AFC Playoffs, Super Bowl XXXVI, and now she will be courtside at U.S. Bank Stadium. The best in game reporter in the business is excited about her role in the biggest weekend of March Madness.
But in our fast five round of questions we find out that she is far more than a talented broadcaster, she is a mother and a teacher as well.
Williams: I don’t think that viewers really understand how tough it is to be a sideline and in-game reporter. Tell us about your role in the broadcasts?
Wolfson: “We’re there to support the broadcast. It’s not about us. It’s about the game. I think Mike Krzyzewski’s interview after Duke beat UCF was a perfect example. I knew we had to go to ’60 Minutes’ and we probably only had one or two questions — well, let him talk. It’s not about coming up with the most interesting question or showing your knowledge. It’s you do that’s going to tee him up? It’s Coach K. He has so much emotion. There were so many story lines. So you just say, ‘Can you even describe that?’ He got into everything from his respect and love for his former Johnny Dawkins, his son Aubrey plus he added they [Duke] were lucky to win – but that he would take it. Plus, he left enough time for me to get out on time.
I love those in the moment interviews, you need to be ready for anything. Players and coaches have just been involved in a great win or a devastating loss and I have to be ready to ask questions that get right to the point without seeming insensitive to what they might be feeling at that point in time. As for during the game I send most of my time gathering the most accurate and important information to lend to the telecast in 30 second reports our producers weave into the broadcasts.”
Williams: You have been working on the NFL and March Madness now for five years with Jim Nantz. So, tell us what it is like to work with him?
Wilson: “Since day one Jim has been such a treat to work with and he truly is as nice off camera as his on. A couple of things people don’t realize him is how quickly he picks things up that go on inside the game and passes that information on to the viewers. The other thig is Jim’s sharp wit, he is quite funny and I know people see how smooth he is on air and that is true, but rest assured he is a funny man. Last but far from least is his dedication to his family. He and his family are now close friends with mine. We enjoy those conversations about our families that helps being on the road a bit easier. But truth be told our entire CBS Sports family loves talking about ours kids.”
Williams: You have been a role model for many young women. Who has been the women who have the biggest influences on your career?
Wolfson: “No doubt it has to be my CBS pal Lesley Visser, she has been so supportive while at the same time being a mentor. She is a wonderful example of paying it forward. From the day I joined the CBS sports team, Lesley has been there for me every step of the way. It could be a phone call or a text but she is always there for me. A couple of other women that have been supportive and great teammates are the amazing Andrea Kremer and director Suzanne Smith. Andrea has really helped me on covering the Super Bowl and all things NFL. Meanwhile, Suzanne, the first woman to direct an NFL game, is yet another member of the CBS team who is a talented woman and a friend.”
Williams: You do the NFL and college basketball as your main roles for CBS and for TNT you were part of their NBA coverage. But you gave the NBA coverage up, why?
Wolfson: “The simple answer is that I wanted more family time with great a supportive husband and my three growing boys. I met my husband when we were at the University of Michigan and there is no question that I could not have done everything I have been able to do at CBS and long before I got there. We have three great boys and husband works at Barclays Capital he gets up at 5 am and is off to with the kids by 6 am to work and school. On the weekend he is Mr. Mom he is coach to our kids and make sure everyone gets where they need to go. For me it all about balance when I am home it is hard but now I get some more time with my great family and I really love every minute of it.
Williams: I know you love mentoring other young women and men who want to get into broadcasting. Tell me about?
Wolfson: I do love it so much. I have been able to work with the University of Michigan on mentoring students and it is such fun for and hopefully the kids. I sometimes have a chance to bring them along to see how it works behind the scenes and I also love reviewing their demo videos and if I can give them career advice. I even get to do some Skype classes from my home and in the future I really want to do more.
It is great to see Wolfson following the lead of other super women broadcasters paying it forward. Be sure to watch her and the entire blended CBS/TNT crew this weekend starting Saturday at 6 pm with the Final Four and then Monday at 8 pm with the National Championship Game.
Jim Williams is s seven time Emmy Award winning producer, director, writer and broadcast executive. You can listen to his weekly media and entertainment podcast. Stream On with Jim Williams can be found free at Apple Podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, TuneIn, iHeart Radio YouTube and wherever you get your podcasts.