Heidi Watney: Who of These 27 Possible Red Sox Reporters Could Take Her Place?

Frank LennonCorrespondent IDecember 30, 2011

Heidi Watney: Who of These 27 Possible Red Sox Reporters Could Take Her Place?

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    Theo Epstein, Tito Francona, Jonathan Papelbon, Jed Lowrie, Kyle Weiland, Josh Reddick. None of these names will be with the Red Sox on Opening Day 2012.

    That list will undoubtedly grow over the coming weeks, but one name stands out as perhaps the most difficult to replace of all.

    Heidi Watney.

    As NESN's on-field reporter for all Red Sox TV broadcasts, the lovely and sexy Ms. Watney was bright enough and capable enough to overcome the initial "eye candy only" snickers. Yes, she is stunning to look at, but she was also a National Merit Scholar and went to the University of San Diego on an academic scholarship, graduating with honors in 2003.

    While there, she became Miss San Diego, and was the first runner-up in the 2002 Miss California pageant. 

    Prior to joining NESN, Watney was a weekend sports anchor for KMPH in Fresno. She was also a sports talk radio host for 1430 ESPN Radio KFIG Fresno.

    At NESN, she hosted The Ultimate Red Sox Show and The Red Sox Report, and also became the on-field reporter for TV broadcasts.

    The sad news of her departure was reported in mid-November by CSN New England's Sean McAdam, who announced that Watney was heading back to California to cover the sidelines for the Los Angeles Lakers.

    Media and fan reaction was immediate, and certainly stronger than the mere ripples created by the departure of Lowrie or Reddick.

    "Say it ain't so!" wrote one Yahoo! Sports blogger. "The post-collapse exodus from the Boston Red Sox has officially gone one person too far."

    "Heidi is the latest departure from NESN’s pulchritudinous lineup of jock talkers," bemoaned the Boston Herald.

    Tina Cervasio, Hazel Mae, Kathryn Tappen and Jade McDonald were capable reporters who also added significantly to the sports scenery.

    The silver lining is that NESN will undoubtedly want to maintain its reputation for developing fantastic sports babes. I am sure the powers-that-be at the network are hard at work over the holidays, seeking the most dynamic and bodacious talent available.

    To help you armchair recruiters out, I've assembled 27 prospects for your New Year's weekend review. I've left out the most obvious superstars (e.g. Erin Andrews), for whom a gig with NESN would represent a step backwards. I've also left out a few other pretenders who have nothing going for them but looks. After all, this is a savvy sports town, and while we enjoy the eye candy, nothing is sexier than a good-looking woman who also knows sports and can talk about them effectively.

    Let me know whom you would most like to see at Fenway Park this summer!

Leeann Tweeden

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    OK, so I don't really think it's realistic that supermodel (see pictures) and sportscaster Leeann Tweeden would want to come to Boston at this stage in her career—although she is now doing pre-game and post-game coverage for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Fox Sports Net West, so you never know.

    I put her in here for several reasons:

    1. To get you all to continue to read this feature; 

    2. At 38, this international smorgasbord of sexiness (she has Norwegian, Spanish and Filipino blood) is featured in the current (December 2011) issue of Playboy;

    3. She used to date Josh Beckett, and perhaps she can wheedle the truth out of him about "chickenandbeergate".

    Tweeden, long associated with action sports and extreme sports, earned some cred as a mainstream sports broadcaster during her regular appearances on Fox Sports Net's "The Best Damn Sports Show Period".

    While appearing on this show, Leeann flew with the Navy's Blue Angels and skydived with the Army's Golden Knights. 

    This just reinforced her appreciation for the military. Her father served in the Air Force as a B-57 mechanic in Vietnam, and her new husband is an Air Force pilot serving in the California Air National Guard who has been deployed seven times to Iraq or Afghanistan. Leeann herself has been on 16 USO Tours, 14 of those to Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11.

    With a financial partner, she has launched a non-profit, Heroes and Patriots, whose mission is to give financial support to military members and their families who are in a time of need. According to its website, Leeann always takes time out to visit our wounded men and women at Walter Reed or Bethesda Naval Hospital when she is in the Washington, DC area. She understands the sacrifices our military members and their families make, and she hopes to make a difference in the lives of those who serve selflessly every day.

    Even if she doesn't come to Boston, she deserves a lot of credit for her support of our troops.

Carrie Milbank

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    Carrie, a former Houston Texans cheerleader, is probably best known to Boston fans as the host of The Hockey Show on the NHL network. She received a lot of air time in New England during last year's Stanley Cup Finals.

    I think she would fit right in with hard-core Beantown sports junkies. In addition to being smart and beautiful, she has an aggressive streak. She told Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! Sports that she was first drawn to hockey by the fighting. "With all the aggression and intensity demanded of pro athletes from every sport," she told him, "It's no surprise that the guys need to open up a can of whoop ass every now and then…but hockey players are the only ones who get away with it, usually with just a slap on the wrist...those lucky sons of guns."

    In addition to being extremely good-looking (check out some additional photos here) she has the broadcasting chops to succeed in a tough market. She has even appeared as a a guest contributor on FOX Business Network’s “America’s Nightly Scoreboard.”

    Carrie was also the host of TennisWeek.com before that site (and the magazine) shut down.

    She appeared so successful, in fact, that I was not going to include her on this list until I noticed that she posted her online resumé this summer, including the key words, "This video was produced by Carrie Milbank for the purpose of providing infotainment for viewers as well as gaining employment…"

    Let's at least call her in for an interview! 

Lindsay Joy

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    Little-known Wyoming reporter Lindsay Joy grew up in Rancho Santa Margarita, California. According to her station's website, she graduated from Gonzaga University in 2010 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. She gained experience as a sideline reporter covering the Spokane Shock Arena Football league franchise.

    Her previous experience includes sideline reporting for the Gonzaga Women's Basketball team, and play-by-play announcing for the 2009 Big Sky Volleyball Tournament. She was also a color commentator for Community College of Spokane Women's Basketball. 

    Her TV bio concludes, "Lindsay initially got into broadcasting because of her love for sports, but has developed a strong passion for news along the way. She enjoys all aspects of reporting, from finding stories to shooting and editing video."

    She's a real sleeper in this competition, but NESN has been known to dig deep to find and develop hot talent.

Kayte Christensen

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    Quick, what would you rather be if you are an attractive, intelligent reporter looking to make your bones in TV sports work: the Red Sox sideline reporter on NESN, or a "social media sideline reporter" (whatever that is) for the NBA Phoenix Suns?

    Kayte is another prospect whom I almost dropped from this piece when I saw last week that she had been hired by the Suns to "share comments from fan discussions taking place on Twitter, Facebook and Google+". (Phoenix Suns website). 

    After reading her job description, however, I would think she might reconsider if NESN came calling.

     

     

     

    Basketball junkies will recall her name; she played for seven seasons with the WNBA Phoenix MercuryHouston Comets and Chicago Sky.

    Kayte got into broadcasting as a courtside reporter for the NBA Sacramento Kings. Her first two years there she did a live show as well as the the pre, half and postgame show. In a December 21 interview published on the Suns website, she said, "The last year they had budget cuts and they cut our pre, half and postgame show, and moved me over to their sideline position." 

    In May 2010, she was replaced by Jim Gray, of all people! Yes, the same Jim Gray who earned everlasting broadcast fame (or infamy) for his controversial interview with Pete Rose.

    C'mon, now! As a fan, who would you rather see courtside?

    Anyway, she moved to New York when her job ended with the Kings, and worked as a color commentator for ESPNU until her return to Phoenix last week.

    Yes, it's a long shot, especially since she just took this job, but who knows what will happen when basketball season ends? 

Erin Sharoni

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    Erin Sharoni, co-host of CNBC Sports Biz: Game On, is a perfect example to me of the type of fresh new talent that NESN likes to develop. (Check out some additional photos here.)

    According to her own website, Erin made her debut in sports broadcasting in 2010 as a sideline reporter for the St. John's basketball games airing on RedStormSports.com, the school's sports website. She also hosted the weekly "We Are St. John's: All Access" on Red Storm Report.

    She has since been featured as a guest host on NBC Sports Talk, which airs weekdays on Versus.

    Born and raised in New York City, Erin is passionate about sports. She is a former U.S. Junior Olympic-certified swim coach, personal trainer, dancer and fitness competitor, and surfs and snowboards in her free time. Last year, she was featured in a national advertising campaign for FILA athletic apparel.

    A trained visual artist, Erin holds a B.A. in Studio Art from Wesleyan University. Strangely enough, she worked in the finance world for six years before making the transition to a full-time career in sports broadcasting, acting and modeling.

    She lives in New York City and proudly cheers on the New York Knicks, Jets, Mets and Rangers.

    I don't see the Yankees on this list. Wouldn't she be perfect for Fenway?

Amanda Joseph

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    Amanda Joseph, 25, a sports broadcaster for the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM), was Miss Louisiana 2007.

    The former LSU Golden Girl received her bachelor's degree in public relations from LSU in 2009. In addition to her work duties, she is currently pursuing her MBA at ULM.

    While at LSU, she was in charge of the Tigers' new media operations for its official website and hosted a weekly video segment, GameDay Xtra, and hosted a monthly internet sports show, Tiger Talk.  She also interned in LSU's sports information department. 

    The Pineville, LA native is currently working as a graduate assistant in the ULM athletics department.

    According to her bio on the ULM website, Joseph produces, edits and appears on camera for ULM's video efforts on You Tube and ulmwarhawks.com. Her primary duties include providing video content for the website as well as assisting in building relationships with ULM's sponsors.  Joseph is also a member of the Warhawk Radio Network broadcast team. She serves as the football sideline reporter and hosts ULM's weekly Hawk Talk radio show.

    While she seems a little green for an MLB sideline reporter job, perhaps NESN could fit in her to other network projects and groom her for bigger and better things.

Amanda Pflugrad

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    Former Oregon Ducks Cheerleader Amanda Pflugrad is best known for the sexy pictures of her in a bikini that went viral on the internet in 2009. Combined with her designation as a 2008 Sports Illustrated Cheerleader of the Week, the 5’4'' blonde with the energetic smile became one of the most downloaded cheerleaders on the web. 

    Today Amanda is an entertainment/lifestyle reporter for FOX Sports Arizona, working hard to balance her eye candy image with journalistic success.

    Sam Finley of the Eugene Daily News interviewed Pflugrad in October. “I would go into the J-school a lot, particularly during my senior year when I was part of the ‘Oregon News’ show,” she said.  ”I’d be at cheer practice until about seven in the evening and would have to get interviews for my video packages during the day.  But sometimes I’d arrive at the J-school at seven at night and wouldn’t leave until three in the morning.”

    Finley wrote that at least one of her instructors agreed that Amanda was, and still is, more than just a pretty face. “Amanda has a remarkably strong work ethic,” said Rebecca Force, an adjunct professor at the University of Oregon School of Journalism. “She identified her goals early and diligently worked to acquire the education and experience needed to get her where she wanted to go.  As student, she worked hard, gracefully accepted feedback, and simply kept getting better and better.”

    She graduated from the University of Oregon in 2010, and completed a sports internship at KVAL-TV in Eugene. After sending out numerous demo reels to small broadcasting markets, Pflugrad got a job reporting for Fox Sports Arizona, and relocated to Phoenix.

    “I’ve had to work very hard just to get in the door,” Amanda explained. “I’ve been a production assistant for ESPN 3D. I’m always making sure that I’m writing and I can edit video.  So, I’m not just doing the reporting side of things. I’m able to do it all, and I’ve also been able to show that I can do it all. It’s not just about looks, and I hope that comes out in my work.”

    So what would Pflugrad like to achieve in the near future?

    “I’d love to be a sideline reporter,” she said. 

    Hey, I know where there's an opening.

Kristina Akra

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    This former Miami Heat dancer is a graduate of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications who got her media start on GatorZone, a show featuring Florida Gator athletics on Sun Sports. Kristina has a background in news as a reporter, anchor, and weather anchor for WUFT News 5, Gainesville’s PBS affiliate.

    She is now the co-host and social media reporter for FoxSports South’s college football preview show, “SEC Gridiron Live.”

    In addition to her good looks and broadcasting chops, Kristina has strong connections to the Boston area. As described on her own website, she worked as a sideline reporter in 2010-11 for CoxSports and the Big East Network’s coverage of Providence College home games. She also hosted “Friars All Access,” with Providence Head Coach Keno Davis, giving fans an inside look at the PC Basketball Program.

    Kristina also worked for Kraft Sports Productions, the in-house production company for the New England Patriots. She covered the Patriots year round as the host and co-producer of Patriots Today, a daily webshow on Patriots.com. Kristina also contributed as a reporter for Patriots All Access, a weekly news magazine show airing on Boston’s CBS affiliate WBZ TV.

    During her time in New England, Kristina also worked as the sideline reporter for the area's soccer team, the New England Revolution. 

    What's wrong with bringing her back?

Meredith Marakovits

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    Although Meredith Marakovits is currently the sideline reporter for the Philadelphia 76ers on Comcast Sportsnet Philly, she has a lot of baseball experience.

    She served as a reporter for 1050 ESPN Radio in New York, covering the (gasp!) Yankees. According to her website, Meredith was the Phillies beat reporter for 97.5 The Fanatic/950 ESPN before her move to New York.

    She covered two World Series appearances by the Phillies, and contributed to ESPN, Comcast Sportsnet, CBS3's Sports Zone, Fox 29, and Sportsnet NY.

    She also appeared in MLB's first reality series, "The Pen", which took a look at the Phillies relievers' lives following the team's 2008 World Series win and the pressures of keeping their roster spot for the 2009 team. The program, a co-production between MLB Network, marked the first use of a camera and microphones in a Major League bullpen to film in-game and practice footage.

    Marakovits also served as the pre- and post-game host and sideline reporter for the Emmy Award-winning Ironpigs (The Phillies' AAA Affiliate) Television Network in Allentown, PA. She was also a sideline reporter for college football, arena football, and college basketball. Marakovits graduated with a BA in communications and marketing from La Salle University in Philadelphia, where she also played Division I volleyball.

Niki Noto

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    When you're drop-dead gorgeous and your name is Niki Noto, you really have to do something interesting and exciting with your life. Maybe a spy, or a contract killer. At the very least, become a sports reporter.

    She did.

    She's now part of the Atlanta Falcons coverage team, and she also does “Road Trip” for ESPNU.

    Niki received a BA in telecommunications from the University of Alabama, where she also worked with the sports information department.  After graduating, she moved to Nashville and did some work with the media relations and marketing department for the Tennessee Titans. She also began traveling as a production assistant with the ESPNU “Roadtrip” crew.

    In 2010, Noto moved to Atlanta and got a job with Falcons as their Inside Reporter.  During the 2010-2011 season, took over the role of the on-field game host at the Georgia Dome for various commercial and fan related features.

    In the spring of 2011,  Noto joined CSS as a free-lance reporter. She also hosts the series, “ATL Sports Experience” for Comcast. Noto covered the hottest college football matchups this past season with “ESPNU Road Trip.” 

    Check out some of her additional photos here.

    I think it's time we introduce her to baseball.

Rebecca Haarlow

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    Former Portland Trailblazers sideline reporter and Civil War buff Rebecca Haarlow was lured to Los Angeles by Fox Sports Network to take over the Los Angeles Lakers sideline gig, among other things. 

    But now Time Warner Cable has lured the Lakers away from Fox Sports West and KCAL-TV, and hired NESN's Heidi Watney for the sideline job starting next season.

    This makes for a potentially interesting scenario; perhaps Boston could get the current Lakers hottie to come east?

    Ivy League-educated Rebecca graduated from Princeton University with a degree in American History, so she's certainly comfortable on the east coast. On the other hand, her assignments with Fox and the Big Ten Network also include covering the Los Angeles Clippers, Big Ten and PAC-12 Football, Basketball, and Track & Field.  

    According to her own website, Haarlow began her professional media career working for ABC in San Francisco. She also covered the Sacramento Kings for Foothill 7 television. She then became one of the youngest broadcasters in the NBA, handling the sideline reporter work for three seasons before moving on to LA.

    Haarlow grew up in Chicago and was quite the athlete herself, competing in soccer, gymnastics, diving and track and field. At Princeton, she won the Ivy League Heptathlon championship as a freshman, and was later elected captain of the track & field squad.

Larra Beth Overton

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    Big Ten Network Sideline Reporter Overton is also an Indiana Pacers host/emcee and National Sports Journalism Center editor.

    Her reporting credits also include the Final Four and the Kentucky Derby.

    She has covered Purdue and Indiana University football games for WTWO-TV/WFXW-TV in Terre Haute, and was an INSports Reporter/Weekend Sports Anchor.

    According to her own resumé, she has done it all broadcast-wise: Reporting, anchoring, producing, shooting, editing, and writing for NBC and Fox newscasts. She has covered professional, collegiate and high school athletics: Indianapolis Colts, Indiana State University and high school teams in both Indiana and Illinois.

    The lovely and intelligent Larra Beth earned her degree in Broadcast Journalism from Indiana University in 2005, and went on to get her Master's in Sports Communication. While in college, she competed in four NCAA championships as a member of the IU track & field and cross country teams, earning Academic All-American honors.

    She launched her professional sports career as an ESPN summer intern, then went on to work for FOX 41 WDRB-TV  in Louisville, KY as an associate sports producer, covering college and high school athletics in Indiana and Kentucky.

    Another sleeper, I imagine we will be hearing more about Larra Beth on the national scene in the near future.

Lyndsay Petruny

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    This stunning brunette graduated from Kent State University with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. She is already in the Boston market, working for Kraft Sports Productions, the in-house production company for the New England Patriots. She is a reporter and a producer of Patriots Today which can be seen on Patriots.com.  She is also a contributor to “Patriots All Access” on WBZ- TV.

    According to Russell Goldman of PatsFan.com, Lindsay came to the Patriots in 2010 after covering Penn State games for the Big Ten Network in 2009. She also co-hosted Steelers Saturday Night, a weekly sports talk show on Pittsburgh’s CW Network. Lyndsay was also involved in production work for the Subway Nightly Sports Call on KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh.

    Her own website, lyndsaypetruny.com, describes her earlier career, including a stint at Fox Sports Network in Los Angeles in 2008. Prior to FSN, Lyndsay spent three years at KSU TV-2 in Ohio, where she did sideline reporting, co-hosted a live weekly sports show, and produced web content. She also completed more than 40 packages in which she had to "produce, write scripts, conduct interviews, shoot video, create graphics, track and edit entirely." 

    The move from Gillette to Fenway could be the easiest one she has ever made!

Samantha Steele

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    Sam Steele is one of the more visible and better-known names on this list, thanks to her  Fox Sports Net and Fox College Sports work as a sideline reporter for Pac-10 and Big 12 college basketball and football games.

    In July of 2011 she was hired by  ESPN's Longhorn Network  as a sideline reporter, and she has since relocated to Austin, TX.

    I almost did not include her for that reason, but then again, college football ends well before the baseball season starts…

    The other reason I could not leave her off this list is because she describes herself as a "Current sports broadcaster, future Walmart greeter" on her Twitter account. She adds the following philosophical subhead: "God first, people second, cake third."

    How could I ignore that?

    Anyway, Steele graduated from Liberty University in Virginia where she was a sideline reporter and host for all of the football and men’s and women’s basketball games. As an intern at ABC Sports Television and ABC Sports Radio in New York City, Samantha assisted with the College Football Studio show.

    According to her own website, she led the pregame, halftime, and postgame studio shows for various Fox events, including the PAC-10 Basketball Tournament and “Paradise Jam,” a preseason tournament in the U.S. Virgin Islands featuring teams from the ACC, Big East, and other various conferences.

    She is also a frequent radio guest around the country during the college football and basketball seasons, discussing the latest news in college sports.

    I wonder what her transition to baseball might be like?

Erin Nicole

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    Erin Nicole  is in her sixth year as in-arena hostess for all Detroit Pistons home games. Her job is to keep those fans alive during timeouts and breaks in the action. (I can see her being successful at that!)

    “Honestly, I love the atmosphere,” said Erin Nicole. “The people that I work with, the people that I’m around, I look forward to coming to all of the games.”

    She appears onPistonsWeekly shows, and provides traffic reports for commuters—an interesting combination of broadcast skills!

    According to the Pistons website, she was raised in the Detroit area, and "grew up performing on stage in musical theater, so being in front of 22,076 cheering fans almost comes naturally to her."

    Her bio on WXYZ-TV says that she went to New York after high school to study singing and acting.

    She broke into the business in 2002 as a reporter for UPN and CBS Detroit. She was also a Detroit soccer reporter for Comcast.

    Sounds as if this aspiring broadcaster needs to get out of Detroit!

Trenni Kusnierek

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    I almost left Trenni off this list because it seemed as if she had outgrown local team reporting as a result of her excellent work on the MLB Network.

    However, she apparently left the national stage early in 2011 to take a sabbatical in India for personal reasons. When she returned, she took a hometown radio job in Milwaukee with  WTMJ_(AM).

    Kusnierek graduated from Marquette University, and worked at Fox Sports in Pittsburgh for five years before becoming the Brewers sideline reporter for FSN Wisconsin in 2008. She also reported for the Big Ten Network before moving on to MLB.TV.

    According to the WTMJ press release earlier this year, Trenni said, "After moving around and covering sports on both the regional and national level, I can't imagine a more perfect scenario than talking and debating sports in my hometown."

    OK, after another year in Milwaukee, don't you think she might be tempted by the NESN/Red Sox job?

Amy Fadool

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    Amy Fadool now works for Comcast SportsNet in Philadelphia, where she reports on all Philadelphia sports teams for SportsNite. She also occasionally anchors the newscast, and contributes to the network's newly redesigned website, csnphilly.com.

    According to that website, Fadool received a degree in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Kentucky in 2004.  She interned at WKYT in Lexington, KY and worked her way up to full-time anchor/reporter after graduation.  She also anchored the sports desk at Fox56's news while at WKYT.  She spent two years at WZTV in Nashville, TN before being hired by WBFF in Baltimore. 

    At WBFF she covered the Ravens and Orioles. She was also the sideline reporter for national Fox Sports broadcasts of Ravens games. 

    Perhaps its time for Amy to come back to baseball?

Amber Theoharis

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    Amber Theoharis is a seasoned baseball reporter who has covered the Baltimore Orioles for the past six seasons for the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN).

    She's one of the longest of long shots on this list, because her on-field work was just about eliminated when she had a premature baby in 2010. She's also loyal to MASN, who created an in-studio job for her that enabled her to continue her career. According to the Baltimore Sun, this past season she focused on "interviews and features for the network's 'Mid-Atlantic Sports Report,' blogging regularly and filling in for Jim Hunter alongside Rick Dempsey on the 'O's Extra' pre- and post-game shows when Hunter shifts into the booth for play-by-play."

    Amber was named Maryland Sportscaster of the Year by The National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, and earned an Emmy in 2006 for her series on youth hockey. She has received two AP awards for sports journalism, and has been recognized in Forbes Magazine and Baltimore Magazine.

    The normally critical Ken Fang has high praise for Amber. In his Fang's Bites blog he wrote: "Whether she’s on the sidelines for Orioles games or does work for MASN’s Ravens postgame broadcasts, Amber is a very solid broadcaster. I saw her for the first time in 2007 and I was going to lobby my friends at the then-790 The Score to bring her to Providence to work, but alas, the Score fell by the wayside. She can talk sports with the best of them…"

    According to her MASN bio, Maryland native Theoharis earned a BA in Journalism from the University of Maryland, and began her career behind the scenes down the road from Baltimore at WJLA-TV in Washington. She has also worked at TV stations in New York City, Long Island and Columbus OH.

    The only thing that might cause her to move is her goal of eventually hosting her own show, but I would imagine that MASN would step up to match such an offer.

Ashleigh Ignelzi

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    Ashleigh hails from Columbus, Ohio and works for the statewide cable Ohio News Network (ONN.) A graduate of Otterbein College, she jumped right into sports broadcasting as a host and reporter on the Average Joe Sports Show.  Ash, as she is often referred to on the set, holds her own despite being the only female—and the youngest member—on the team.

    She works as a remote reporter for ESPN the Magazine, she covers professional sports in Ohio , including the Cleveland Cavaliers, the NFL, MLB.  In addition to her work with ESPN the Magazine, Ashleigh serves as an online video reporter with ColumbusWired.net, where she provides coverage of the Columbus Blue Jackets, professional golf, and Ohio State football.

    On "sidelinehotties.com", an appropriately-named blog which follows female sideline reporters, one fan wrote, "She loves sports, and has said on the show she probably watches more ESPN than most men. …She is super hot and stacked but always professional and wants to be a sideline reporter."

    She recently achieved that goal (sort of) with the Columbus Crew of MLS.

    Just in case she has bigger goals in mind, we know of a good baseball sideline job that's open.

Kate Witham

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    According to a Cleveland Indians blog (appropriately named WFNY-"Waiting for Next Year"), Witham has juggled four freelance jobs: Ohio State correspondent for the Big Ten Network; the SEC soccer color commentator for Fox Sports South; sideline reporter for the Columbus Crew; and covering Indians games for Sports Time Ohio.

    Katie comes from Alliance, Ohio. She is a communications major who graduated from Capital University, where she played soccer and was team captain and First Team All-League in 2005.

    "Nominated for an Emmy Award in 2008 and winning a Telly Award in 2009, it is increasingly evident that Witham’s passion for soccer coupled with sports-related background has provided a solid foundation for her work as an in-game reporter," continues the Indians blog.

    Juggles four freelance jobs--maybe it's time for a permanent gig?

Kristen Berset

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    One of the most stunning and capable candidates to replace Heidi Watney, Kristen Berset is also a borderline option simply because she just took a new job in Washington, DC in August.

    After working in Baltimore, where she was the Weekend Sports Anchor for WBFF and part of the team that won the Chesapeake Bay Region AP award for Best Year Round Sports Coverage, Berset is now the weekend sports anchor/reporter for WUSA 9 and also hosts Sunday Sports Plus

    Kristen is a graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in Telecommunications. She is also a former Miss USA; check out the swimsuit photos here.

    According to her WUSA bio, she launched her media career as an anchor and evening producer at WJHG-TV in Panama City, Florida. In 2008, Kristen also had become the Shore Reporter for the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series TV Show (PTTS) on Sun Sports. In 2009 she took a sports anchor position at Fox 45 in Baltimore.

    While there, Kristen covered the Ravens, Orioles, Maryland Terrapins and the NCAA National Lacrosse Championship. She also hosted a weekly radio show on FOX 1370 called the Saturday Morning Football Show.

    Her tarpon fishing knowledge may not help her land a NESN gig, but other elements in her background might.

Britton Lynn

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    Britton Lynn now works as a Field Reporter for Foxsports.com/Scout.com, reporting on major football prospects. She has the brains to go along with the beauty, having graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Alabama in Broadcast Journalism with a concentration in sports. While a student, Britton worked as the senior sports writer for the Crimson White, the school paper, as well as freelancing for 'Bama Magazine, the Tuscaloosa News, and Sports Spectrum magazine.

    She also interned with Fox Sports and Fox Sports Interactive in LA.

    According to her own website, Lynn worked as the SEC Correspondent for ESPNU for three years. She did sideline reporting, conducted exclusive player and coach interviews, covered press conferences, and reported for the network's "SEC Weekly" Show. "Britton has covered everything from the BCS National Championship in football, the ESPY Awards in LA, Basketball, NCAA Baseball Super Regionals, Softball, Golf, Gymnastics, and Cheerleading Championships, Big 12 & SEC Media Days, ESPN's 30for30", she writes in the third person.

    In addition to her work for ESPNU, Britton reported for Alabama's TideTV/Crimson Tide Sports Network as a reporter. She was also the "jumbotron talent" (I wonder what THAT means!) during baseball and basketball games. She has also worked in the NFL for both the Dallas Cowboys Television and the Atlanta Falcons. 

    Here's another example of a young, bright and talented reporter, just ready to be taken to the next level by NESN.

Jaymee Sire

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    In addition to being an attractive woman with excellent reporter creds, Jaymee Sire has a sandwich named after her. She should get along great with Bobby Valentine, who invented the wrap (and maybe helped Al Gore start the internet…but I digress).

    Jaymee has worked for Comcast SportsNet in the Bay Area since 2008. She covers the San Francisco Giants, Oakland A’s, Golden State Warriors and San Jose Sharks telecasts and pre and post game shows. She also hosts Giants Magazine.

     According to her Facebook page, Jaymee is one of the anchors for the network's flagship show SportsNet Central.  She joined the network from KFMB-TV in San Diego, CA, where she worked as a sports reporter from 2003-2008. 

    For two seasons (2005-2006), she was a sideline reporter for KFMB’s San Diego Chargers preseason broadcasts. At KFMB she earned a number of broadcasting awards, such as a Pacific Southwest Emmy Award for Best Sports Story in 2007. Prior to joining KFMB, Sire was a news and sports anchor/reporter at KRTV, in her hometown of Great Falls, MT.

    Jaymee went to Washington State University where she was a reporter and news anchor for WSU Cable 8. A graduate of the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication at Washington State University in 2002, Sire received the prestigious Judith Waller Award for Outstanding Senior Woman in Broadcasting in 2002.

Nicole Zaloumis

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    San Francisco native Nicole is another hot prospect who is already working in New England. She is a sports anchor at NESN's main competitor, Comcast SportsNet New England (CSNNE).

    According to a CSNNE press release, Zaloumis comes to CSNNE from the Big Ten Network, and prior to that, Fox Sports Northwest, where she anchored coverage of the Mariners and Seahawks. She’s also worked for Comcast SportsNet California.

    Apparently, she was very popular in the Northwest, where fans were wondering what happened to her.

    According to her Facebook page, she graduated from the University of San Francisco in 2003 with a BA in Media Studies. In 2004 she landed a job with KOBI5/KOTI2 in Medford, OR. From 2006-2008 she returned home to work for Comcast SportNet Bay Area in California as well as ABC-15 in Phoenix.

    Given her looks and broadcasting chops. I'm amazed that Nicole Zaloumis has managed to fly below the radar when it comes to ranking hot baseball reporters.

    I think NESN might do well by raiding its competitor.

Erin Hawksworth

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    The final three slides will cover the prospects most mentioned in rumors about coming to Boston for the NESN/Red Sox gig.

    First up is Canadian-born Erin Hawksworth. Her younger brother Blake is a pitcher in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. Her grandfather, Jack Poole, was the Chairman of the Vancouver Organizing Committee Board of Directors for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

    Erin is now a sports reporter for KCPQ, the Fox affiliate in Seattle.  Before that she worked for WFXTin Boston, WFAA in Dallas and KJCT in Grand Junction, Colorado. Hawksworth also covered the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens for NBC.

    She graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, and earned a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication. While at college she interned in the sports department at KPNX in Phoenix.

    The sports blog BustedCoverage has been promoting Hawksworth's candidacy. One recent post is entitled, "91% Sure Erin Hawksworth Will Be NESN’s Red Sox Sideline Reporter".

    Using the very creative lure of a feature called 36 Hot Chicks & Their Favorite Thanksgiving Dishes, BustedCoverage entered into a Twitter dialogue with Hawksworth. Acoording to the blog, here's the exchange that ensued:

    BC: So, what’s up with you and the NESN sideline reporting gig opportunity?

    Hawks: Can’t say much ;-)

    BC: Just remember us little guys when your are jetsetting across the country with Papi & the boys

    Hawks: Haha anything u can do to help me campaign would be much appreciated

    So, she seems to be actively campaigning for the job. She has also worked previously in the Boston market. Those are two points in her favor.

    Then, of course, there's the widely reported incident in which she dropped a big f-bomb on her Sunday morning audience before a Seahawks game in October. The station cut to Hawksworth, who was talking with fans in a chat room. When asked by the anchor what the fans were saying, Hawksworth quoted one word-for-word. Unfortunately, as BustedCoverage also reported, "the fan she quoted was letting the expletives fly and Erin read the entire comment on air with a big smile on her face.

    "She’s hot, but we’re not sure how bright she is," continued the blog. "We’re still not sure if she realized what she was doing at any point in this clip."

    The clip itself went viral on the internet, but has since been removed from most sites by the TV station, which entered a copyright claim to protect its image.

    If you're quick, you may still be able to find the video on YouTube.

Molly Sullivan

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    There are mixed reports on the candidacy of Las Vegas-based reporter Molly Sullivan. Right after Heidi Watney's departure was announced, Chad Finn of the Boston Globe tweeted, " Molly Sullivan (a Las Vegas native, North Carolina graduate, and self-proclaimed Red Sox fan) is perceived to be the front runner at the moment.

    A few days later, however, he tweeted again that "Molly Sullivan, once perceived as favorite, is out. Higher-up thought she was too young."

    I for one certainly hope she has not been ruled out. 

    In addition to being a capable reporter, Molly made the top five in the 2009 Playboy Sexiest Sportscaster competition. One website, www.yardbarker.com, called her "the Erin Andrews of the Mountain Sports Network."  

    A graduate of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Molly is a former nationally ranked distance swimmer, ACC Champion and four time NCAA qualifier in the mile for the Tar Heels. She also competed at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials. In one interview, she described herself as follows: "Rather than cheering from the sidelines, I was always in the game playing with the boys.  I’m just a girl who loves sports."

    Her two decades of competitive swimming landed her the job as color analyst for the Big Ten Network's swimming coverage.

    According to her bio on the Mountain West Network site, Molly's first on-air job after college was as a Las Vegas-based entertainment reporter and producer for KTLA in Los Angeles, KENS in San Antonio, and KFVE in Honolulu  A year later, Molly landed her own half-hour lifestyle television show on Las Vegas’ ABC affiliate. 

    Molly eagerly returned to her athletic roots in the Fall of 2007. She can be found on the sidelines during Mountain West football games during the fall, and court side at many MWC basketball games during the winter. Last March, Molly co-hosted "ESPN Road Trip to the Big Dance" for a special three-part series on the NCAA basketball championships.

    Too young? You've got to be kidding me.

    As one website concluded, "So, for those of you keeping score at home, we have a TV personality, a published author, a fantastic athlete, a huge sports fan and drop dead gorgeous looks all rolled into one…"

    I agree.

Jennifer Royle

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    Another reputed front-runner is Jen Royle, lately of CBS Radio’s 105.7 "The Fan" in Baltimore, an Emmy-winning sports reporter who has covered the Yankees and Orioles, as well as the Baltimore Ravens.

    Last August, well before Heidi Watney's departure was announced, Chad Finn of the Boston Globe described Royle as "a serious candidate for one of the vacancies at NESN. A Boston native, Royle has also covered the Yankees for the YES Network and the Orioles for MASN. Bringing her back to her hometown would be a savvy move for NESN, which bade farewell to Kathryn Tappen and will do the same to Jade McCarthy."

    Royle, a graduate of Salve Regina University in Rhode Island, has taken a major step to prove her seriousness about wanting to return to Boston. Earlier in December she announced that she was leaving her current job to return to Boston—even without first securing employment in Beantown.

    A few days ago she told David Zurawik of The Baltimore Sun, "I can't confirm that I'm making a career move," Royle said. "But I've been away from home for 15 years, and in my heart, I want to replant my roots in Boston."

    Royle added that she and station management agreed that she would stay on the Baltimore Ravens beat until the team ended its Super Bowl run in 2012.

    A full bio with a detailed description of her sports background can be found on her newly created (December 24!) website, http://www.jenniferroyle.com.

    To summarize, she headed to New York after college in 2000 for a gig in the fashion business. Royle's first sports media job was with New York's YES Network (mainly Yankees games) in 2003, but after the network sold its Web site to MLB and Advanced Media in 2007 she went along with the transfer. She continued to cover the Yankees (and added the New York Mets) for Sirius-XM’s Baseball Channel in 2008 and 2009. Her coverage included the '08 World Champion Phillies and the American League Champion Rays.

    Jen came to Baltimore in April of 2010 to report on the visiting clubhouse at both Camden Yards and Nats Park for MASN TV (Mid-Atlantic Sports Network) and to cover both the Orioles and Ravens for "The Fan." 

    It's my guess that she will be hired as the next NESN/Red Sox sideline reporter.