ESPN’s First Female Steadicam Operator

Brie Michaels at ESPN

Alum Brie Michaels serves as an inspiration to her colleagues.

In honor of Women’s History Month, ESPN’s internal communications department asked the sports broadcasting company’s employees to nominate colleagues who inspired them. Hundreds were nominated. But, ultimately, only seven women were selected to share their stories in a series entitled “In Her Shoes.” Brockport alum Brie Michaels ’08 was one of them.

She was shocked to be nominated.

“(I) felt so supported; there was an outpouring of love and support,” Michaels said.

Being chosen made her feel like she was doing exactly what she should be — empowering women.

Three Pieces of Advice:

In an interview with The Port, Michaels offered the following advice to women:

You can grow into your role: “In terms of applying for jobs, women have a tendency to wait to apply for a job until they feel like they’re overqualified — just go for it.”

Get out there: “If you have a question, ask the question. You’re curious, find out what fuels your curiosity and go for it. Don’t hesitate and allow yourself to be what holds you back.”

Don’t use that word: “When you’re writing an email to somebody, don’t use ‘just.’ That is a very passive term. ‘I just wanted to bring this to your attention.’ Women have a tendency to do that, and you’re immediately dismissing your point by saying ‘just.’ It’s the simplest thing, but if you use it, you’re devaluing what you’re saying.”

Her Journey to ESPN

“My mother is such a crazy inspiration for me,” she said. After graduating from Greece Athena High School in 2004, Michaels said she had no idea what she wanted to do. But her mom knew a major that would be perfect for her.

While filling out her college application, Michael’s mom told her to select communications as her major. But Michaels didn’t even know what the major entailed.

“She said, ‘don’t worry, you’ll be fine.’ And that was it,” Michaels recalled.

In January of 2008, she picked up an internship with ESPN, and by June, she was full time with the company. Michaels was the first woman at ESPN to operate the Steadicam, a stabilizer mount that allows movement to be absorbed as she runs down the football field. The Steadicam can weigh about 60 lbs.

Michaels made sure she wasn’t the last either — she has trained five ESPN women to be Steadicam operators.

She attributes her personal and professional success to being open-minded, willing to learn, and working at a place that has something different happening every day. She says she doesn’t have time to be jaded or bored.

“I just love to experience life. I don’t like to sit still,” Michaels said.

On her personal bucket list, she only has to visit six more states until she’s been to all 50. She wants to build a house in Nicaragua and visit the Redwood Forest. Professionally, she lives by the seat of her pants, booking and packing for work trips on short notice.

“It’s kind of a really fun way to live my life,” she said.

Michaels says that work-life balance can be challenging in the industry. On top of that, she’s in a male-dominated field. ESPN has employee resource groups that allow the staff to mix, network, and foster company culture — she loves that about the company.

Michaels says that every woman at ESPN inspires her: the women who travel every weekend, those who have to be away from their families, and the women in the trenches with her.

“I want to support them just as much as they’re supporting me” Michaels said. “I think in this day and age, there is no choice but to empower women.”

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Author: Anna Loria

Posted: March 29, 2019