Cassidy Hubbarth has always worn many hats at ESPN, currently serving as studio host for college football broadcasts on ABC, digital host of Hoop Streams on Twitter and the ESPN App, and sideline reporter for the NBA on ESPN, among others.
Splitting time between two very different sports with very different fanbases seems, on the surface, to be a strange mix, but for Hubbarth it’s the combination of the sport she’s loved since a kid and the one she learned to love chasing the professional dream.
After graduating from Northwestern her pursuit of a job in the broadcasting industry took her to SEC country with Fox Sports South, a trial by fire of sorts for someone that never identified as a college football fan prior. That immersion in the most college football crazed area of the country caused her to fall in love with the sport. As such, she’s done something with college football ever since 2007, even as her profile within the NBA world has grown.
Hubbarth calls college football her “first love” as a professional, but the NBA has always been her “heart and soul” as a sports fan.
Growing up in Evanston, just outside of Chicago, during the Michael Jordan era naturally drew Hubbarth into the NBA. It’s the sport she’s connected with since childhood, but until 2013 it was separate from her professional life. That’s when she was tabbed as host for NBA Tonight and NBA Coast to Coast by Bruce Bernstein at ESPN, which she looks back on as the defining moment of her career.
“His belief in me, in allowing me to host that show,” Hubbarth says, “I think really changed my career and allowed me to be my authentic self. For the longest time early on, I was just trying to fit in, like I said, have people trust me and so I wasn’t ever myself I don’t think, until I was trusted to host NBA Tonight. And because the NBA is my favorite sport, I just kind of was just allowed the opportunity to make it my own, and then in that process I think I found my voice, and found my comfort level on air.”
Hubbarth still has moments where she can’t quite believe what she does for a living, like in a Charlotte hotel lobby at All-Star when Bulls legend and current ESPN colleague Scottie Pippen stops her to chat.
“I saw Scottie in the lobby last night like after we saw the screening [of ‘The Last Dance’], and he goes, ‘Hey Cassidy,’ I go, ‘Cassidy who? Who you talking to? You ain’t talking to me. Which Cassidy are you talking to, Pippen?’,” she says with a laugh. “I don’t get starstruck but it’s still like with those guys like, I don’t get starstruck with any of the current players, but like those dudes, that’s my childhood.”