A Natural In The Booth

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wwc07_usoutlook.jpgFor two-time Olympic gold medalist and 1999 World Cup champion Kate Sobrero Markgraf ('98), the game of soccer always came naturally. But until this past summer, she never knew that her talents also belonged in the broadcast booth.

After retiring from professional soccer in 2008, Markgraf began a new stage of her career in July as a color commentator for ESPN during the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany. With no formal broadcast training, it was a bit of a crash course for Markgraf, who ESPN hired after only a brief, 30-minute audition.

Producers clearly had confidence in her, and during the competition she delivered.

Originally scheduled as an analyst for five World Cup matches, Markgraf ended up doing nine games, including the third-place contest between Sweden and France.

Throughout the event, Markgraf spent hours researching all 16 teams and each of the players competing to familiarize herself with their strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies. The result was a comprehensive knowledge of the field that carried over into her regular broadcasts.

"There are great players that are not the goal scorers, so I would highlight those athletes to show the viewers what they could do and give them the ability to appreciate different players," Markgraf said. "That was my main goal to be well researched and share those kind of details with the fans."

Couple that with her uncanny ability to add humor, personal experiences, and critical analysis to the broadcast, and there's no question that Markgraf was a big hit with producers and fans alike.

All in all, it was an experience she'll never forget.

"It was always changing, it was ever evolving, and it was a constant learning process," Markgraf said. "I ended up falling back in love with the game in a totally different way, and that was phenomenal."

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