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Student Profiles

Sports Kick Off Journalism Careers


BAILEE TUCKER can recall dozens of those sports moments when your hair stands on end — like when the entire 60,000-person crowd at Mountaineer Field is shouting “Let’s Go ... Mountaineers!” or when the WVU men’s basketball team knocks off top-ranked Baylor and a sea of students and fans rush the court.

A native of Fairmont, West Virginia, Tucker grew up in a Mountaineer sports family. They’ve had season tickets to WVU football and men’s basketball games for as long as she can remember. Now, her dad likes to brag to family and friends that Tucker has the best seat in the house — whether it’s the top floor of the press box at Milan Puskar Stadium or the “crow’s nest” in the WVU Coliseum — as a student worker for WVU Athletics.

“My dad and I are really close, and we have always bonded over WVU sports,” Tucker said. “He went to WVU, so I always kind of knew that’s where I would go, too. And he’s so excited for me — it feels so good to make him proud.”

While WVU was in Tucker’s sights at an early age, the College of Media came into play a little later. Tucker’s original plans involved a major in political science and law school, but a high school journalism class and a visit by then-recruiter Whitney Godwin flipped the switch.

“I really love sports, and I love writing, and I’m good at it. I thought to myself — I want to do something that’s going to make me happy in the future. I want to enjoy my work so that it doesn’t feel like work,” Tucker recalls.

Godwin introduced Tucker to Chris Ostien, big screens assistant director for the WVU Athletics Department, and they met during a WVU soccer game in the fall of her senior year of high school. Ostien told her to keep in touch and there may be a summer job opportunity working for the West Virginia Black Bears, a Major League Baseball Draft League, for which Ostien was the lead producer during the summer season.

“I think Chris was taken aback and kind of impressed that I was assertive and contacted him, so he took a chance on me,” Tucker said. “I worked for the Black Bears and then transitioned right into WVU Athletics, helping to log game day footage. I really had an upper hand on everybody else in my freshman class because I had that experience and wasn’t as green.”


Bailee Tucker was named a lead anchor along side Sean McCallister for the fall 2022 “West Virginia Today” public affairs show. Photo by David Smith.

From there, Tucker was thrown into the fire with a brief lesson on camera operation and a pat on the back. She was nervous — she’d never done anything like that before — and wanted to earn respect, but like any new role where you’re learning on the go, you’re bound to make mistakes.

“I went home in tears after getting yelled at for a stupid mistake on one of my first days with the Black Bears and started doubting myself, but my mom convinced me to stick

it out,” Tucker recalls. “We like to joke that if something crazy is going to happen, it’s bound to happen to me. There have been so many little incidents, but so many great experiences, too.”

Tucker remembers a specific moment during the 2021 home football game versus Virginia Tech when she was in charge of choosing video board graphics to hype the crowd. She queued a clip of the mascot chanting “Let’s Go Mountaineers” that was quickly drowned out by the volume of the fans.

“I really love sports, and I love writing, and I’m good at it. I thought to myself – I want to do something that’s going to make me happy in the future. I want to enjoy my work so that it doesn’t feel like work.” BAILEE TUCKER

“You just stand in the press box and listen to them all — it’s like you’re on the outside looking in, but you’re still there. On top of that, you played a part in it. Our job is to make the fans feel connected to the game, and when we’ve done our job well, it’s just amazing,” said Tucker.

Tucker has spent two years as the in-game host for the West Virginia Black Bears, where she interacts with fans and players throughout the game for live video board content. She is also currently in her fourth year working for WVU Athletics, where she has performed in both the director and producer roles. As director, she controls the video coverage and graphics that viewers see on television or that fans see on the video board. As producer, she writes the script and dictates the run-of-show. She has also worked for ESPN+ through a partnership with the College of Media, where she has gained experience in setting up microphones and mixing audio content.

During the fall 2022 semester, Tucker auditioned for and landed the role of main anchor for “West Virginia Today,” a new student-produced public affairs show in the College of Media that addresses matters of public policy and interest, including education, culture and politics. She is also the play-of-the-week anchor for “Mountaineer Playbook,” the College’s student-produced sports production program.

“Bailee goes after what she wants. She’s confident and smart and does it all with a smile that brings viewers along for the ride,” said Chuck Scatterday, the Shott Teaching Assistant Professor for the College of Media and executive producer of "Mountaineer Playbook." “I love it when a student comes along who just has ‘it’ — that special combination of skills and personality that is a guarantee for success.”

Tucker is set to graduate in May 2023 and is applying for broadcast journalism graduate programs with the ultimate goal of being an in-game host for a professional sports team or being a reporter for a major network. The combination of her real-world experience and the real-world experience that professors like Scatterday bring to the classroom are positioning her to achieve that goal.

“The professors in the Reed College are so great. People like Chuck and Ashton [Marra] have made my time here worthwhile,” Tucker said. “And they have so much experience. When they tell me something is good or bad, I know it’s because they’ve lived it and they know. The connections I’ve made through them and through the College are so important.”

“I love doing interviews. I love learning about people, and I love to write,” Tucker added. “I hope people look at me and say, ‘Wow, this girl has done a lot — not only a lot in front of the camera, but a lot behind the camera, so she has a lot of strong qualities. She’s like the utility on your baseball team — she’ll just get in there and do whatever you need her to do, and she’ll do it well.’”