How She Got There: Amanda Scarborough, Lead Softball Analyst at ESPN & The Packaged Deal Co-Founder

Name: Amanda Scarborough
Job Title and Description: lead softball analyst for ESPN and co-founder of The Packaged Deal
College Name/Major: Texas A&M University
Website: The Packaged Deal 
Twitter Handle: @ascarborough
Instagram Handle: @amandascarborough

Whether you're constantly plugged into the latest sports news or you occasionally watch your favorite team when you're (somehow) tired of rewatching To All the Boys I've Loved Before on Netflix, we love sports because they combine action, tension and, often, empowering role models. It's undeniable that sports are a packaged deal for our pop culture fascination, which is why we like to get our sports news and rundowns from an expert analyst who amplifies our athletic-related fandoms. 

Amanda Scarborough is a lead softball analyst for ESPN, calling roughly 75 games a season across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and SEC Network. When Amanda isn’t breaking down the game, its players and key storylines for viewers, she is shaping the lives of young women through softball and the company she co-founded with three other former Division 1 softball players, The Packaged Deal. The Packaged Deal reinvented the clinic scene. They hold 50 clinics a year around the country, teaching young women how to better their games and, more importantly, themselves, on and off the field. A former Division I collegiate softball player, Amanda has made a career from the sport she loves—going pro in an atypical way.

Amanda was a two time All-American pitcher at Texas A&M University and was the first student-athlete in Big 12 history to receive the Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year award in the same season (2005). During her tenure, the Aggies made two Women’s College World Series appearances and in 2007 Amanda was named the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year and a finalist for National Player of the Year. She was also a finalist for National Player of the Year in 2005. In 2014, she was inducted into the Texas A&M Athletic Hall of Fame.

Her Campus: What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?

Amanda Scarborough: My role as an analyst for ESPN gives me the opportunity to travel all over the country and call collegiate and Little League softball games that air across ESPN’s family of networks. As part of game prep, I interview coaches and players either in person or over the phone before arriving on site to call the game live. It’s my job to not only document the game itself but to tell the inside stories of the teams and individual players. 

In my work with The Packaged Deal, I travel the country coaching softball clinics for girls ages 8-18. During these clinics, we not only teach the girls the skills of the game but life skills as well, mixing in life lessons and working to grow their self-confidence. The goal is to leave them with tools they can use on and off the field, in sports and in life. As coaches, we work hard, individually and collectively, to have a presence on social and other digital platforms allowing us to connect with players and their families all over the world, sharing resources, skills, insights and all of the fun in between.

As far as what a typical day looks like, with The Packaged Deal there really is no such thing as a typical day when it comes to the clinics and the prep leading into them. As coaches, we work hard, individually and collectively, to have a presence on social and other digital platforms allowing us to share our knowledge with players and their families even when we are not at clinic locations. I personally maintain a blog and post videos to various platforms including Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

With ESPN, a typical game day starts with a production meeting about six hours before first pitch. After the production meeting, my booth partner and I will arrive at the field about two hours before game time to get settled in the press box and spend some time with the teams on the field gathering any last-minute information that could be relevant to the telecast.

HC: What is the best part of your job?

AS: The best part of my job at ESPN is that it allows me to stay entrenched in a sport that I love dearly. The wild ride of college softball season never gets old. Every year is just as exciting as when I played the game myself. The best part of The Packaged Deal is to see the impact we have on the girls who attend our clinics or follow us on social media. We love seeing the increase in their confidence when they leave the clinics, as they learn new skills and grow a deeper love and appreciation for the game. 

HC: What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?

AS: I look at my time as a player at Texas A&M as essentially being my first entry-level job in the field. ESPN would televise our games, and I was one of the players they would interview while on site. I didn’t realize at the time that those interviews were doubling as a job interview. My boss Meg Aronowitz, who is ESPN’s coordinating producer for softball, was present for those interviews and noticed how I articulated my knowledge of the game and the ins and outs of our team.  I called my first game in 2009 on ESPNU. Meg called me about a month prior to see if I would be interested in serving as an analyst. I took her up on it and have loved calling games ever since. I want to call as many games as I can, whether it’s the Women’s College World Series or a Little League Softball game. I just love it. 

My first job related to clinics was giving softball lessons on my own. After college, I formed my own business centered on giving private lessons. I was focused on capitalizing right away on the success I had playing at Texas A&M. I wanted to be my own 'boss' and I knew I had a passion for coaching. I went from giving about 40 private lessons a week to putting on my own pitching clinics. That led to joining a group of amazing softball players who combined make up The Packed Deal. The goal was to make softball clinics bigger and better, and I believe we are doing that each and every time we get out on the road.

HC: What words of wisdom (well-known quotes, an anecdote from your boss) do you find most valuable?

AS: For calling games, it is simply that less is more. Let the game speak for itself. I want my words and insights to add to the game, not take away from it. With that being said, the advice has been to pick the moments in the game where I can make the most impact. If I am talking throughout the entire game, those words become less impactful.

HC: What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?

AS: When I first started calling games, I lacked a proper system for organizing the notes I gathered during my pre-game prep. Because of that lack of organization, I found it difficult to refer back to those interesting nuggets of information during the game. After some trial and error, I learned how to take all of the information I was gathering and compile it in a way that was manageable and fit in with my in-game thought process.

HC: What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?

AS: The most surreal moment of my career is calling the Women’s College World Series. I called my first WCWS back in 2015. It was such a full-circle moment to go from being there as a player while at Texas A&M to being up in the booth calling the games. I still get goosebumps every single time. The most surreal moment in my work with The Packaged Deal was being sponsored by Nike—an iconic brand that I have loved for as long as I can remember.

HC: What do you look for when considering hiring someone?

AS: When hiring someone for The Packaged Deal, we look for someone who is selfless, forward thinking and an all-around great teammate. We like people who are always one step ahead, proactive instead of reactive. Even in times of uncertainty or stress, they always bring a positive energy to the group. With that positive energy, they not only attract other great people, but great things tend to come their way. We love that the players coming in contact with them at our clinics will instantly have a role model to look up to.

HC: What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?

AS: My advice to someone looking to pursue a career in broadcasting is to have a 'say yes' mentality. Say yes to everything, no matter how small it may seem at the time. By saying yes, you are not only taking an opportunity to do the job but to also network with others in the field as well. No matter where you are or what you are doing, you will be amazed at the connections you can create. With that being said, make sure you show up and make a positive impression that people will remember. That includes being a great teammate—show up, be prepared, work hard and be a positive addition to the group.