If you follow any college or professional sports, it’s a good bet that ESPN is part of your daily life – checking real-time scoring and stats, and getting alerts about breaking news on your favorite teams and athletes. All of that in-the-moment information comes right to your favorite screen thanks in large part to Lauren Reynolds Nelson ’02.

Reynolds is vice president, executive editor of ESPN Digital where she’s responsible for setting editorial direction across digital platforms and co-manages SportsCenter’s Universal Coverage Group. She oversees reporters, analysts, editors, and bureau producers charged with daily content creation, newsgathering, and analysis for all professional leagues, college sports, combat sports, and premium content. 

Lauren Reynolds Nelson ’02 vice president, executive editor of ESPN Digital Lauren Reynolds Nelson ’02
Reynolds visited campus recently to interview tennis legend Venus Williams during Hamilton’s latest Great Names Series event. We found time to ask Reynolds about her own career trajectory, starting as a two-sport athlete at Hamilton (lacrosse and basketball) and sports editor of The Spectator.
When did you decide you’d combine your passion for sports and journalism?

I realized in high school, working for our student paper, that I loved the immediacy of journalism. It was so cool to work on something and see it in print the next day. It’s the first draft of history (and fittingly, I went on to be a history major at Hamilton). The thing I’ve always loved about sports journalism is that we can tell any story through the prism of sports — political, social, human — and reach the broadest audience.

What was your path to VP of Content at ESPN?

I was lucky enough to meet Steve Wulf ’72, then the executive editor of ESPN the Magazine, through the Hamilton Career Center. Steve gave me the best advice: Go down south, to any newspaper that would hire me, and in two to three years, ESPN or Sports Illustrated would come calling. And he nailed it! I spent two-and-a-half years at a small paper in North Carolina before being hired as a copy editor for ESPN.com.

Since starting at ESPN in 2005, I’ve had a multitude of jobs, largely covering college sports, and now get to lead all of our sport-specific editors and reporters, as well as a team for SportsCenter charged with bringing in all content from the field.

Was it tough breaking into the field at ESPN as a woman?

I think being a woman actually helped open doors — especially at the time, there weren’t many of us. What was, and sometimes still is, hard is being the only woman in the room. For the majority of my career, I was on teams where there were more men named Dave than women! I’m thrilled that it’s changed. On my team, our executive editor is a woman. The leads of our NFL, MLB, and NHL/Olympics teams are women. It’s one of my proudest accomplishments — having helped hold the door open for other women.

How did you move up the ranks at ESPN?

I always focused on taking jobs that would teach me the most, which led to a really diverse skill set and network. I wasn’t afraid of taking a higher role in a lower-profile sport, so I was able to get valuable experience managing teams and setting strategies at earlier points in my career.

What does a typical day look like for you?

It’s different every day, and that’s what I love … At the heart of every day, it’s about trying to find the right stories to tell, the right people to tell them, and then making sure we’re coordinating across ESPN — all of our platforms (linear, digital, social, radio, podcasts) — so that the story can find as big of an audience as possible.

Meet people taking Hamilton’s motto to heart as they discover and explore their passions in an effort to make valuable contributions on College Hill and beyond.

More Know Thyself Stories

What’s your favorite sport?

My answer, prior to having kids, was to watch: football; to play: lacrosse. Now that I am the proud mom of two soccer players and ski racers, it’s definitely watching them compete.

What do you think the meteoric rise in popularity of women’s basketball and Caitlin Clark mean for women’s sports in general?

It’s been incredible to watch. I graduated from high school the same year that the WNBA launched. I was at the Liberty’s first game. The first major event I worked at for ESPN was the women’s basketball tournament. Women’s basketball is the classic “overnight sensation, 30 years in the making.” It’s been incredible to see the way that Caitlin Clark has captured the nation’s attention, but perhaps, more importantly, it’s not just Caitlin. Finally, incredible women are getting their due. With an Olympics this year, I think the story of the year will be the growth of women’s sports.

Venus Williams and Lauren Reynolds ’02

Venus Williams Dazzles Hamilton Class and Field House Audience

The tennis superstar, entrepreneur, advocate, and New York Times bestselling author met for a candid discussion with student-athletes and students in the class Global Race and Sport before addressing a crowd in the Bundy Scott Field House.

In a lively discussion with Lauren Reynolds ’02, VP, executive editor of ESPN Digital, Williams weighed in on topics ranging from the serious (trusting oneself) to the lighthearted (what not to sing at karaoke night).

Great Names

The Sacerdote Series is named in recognition of a significant gift from the family of Alex Sacerdote, a 1994 Hamilton graduate. Other speakers in the series have included Tina Fey, Aretha Franklin, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Derek Jeter, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Jon Stewart, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Lady Margaret Thatcher, Susan Rice, F.W. deKlerk, and David Cameron.

Venus Williams

Legendary tennis champion


Tina Fey

Emmy award-winning writer, actress, and producer


Condoleezza Rice and Susan Rice

Former national security advisors


Neil deGrasse Tyson

American astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium


David Cameron

Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (2010-16)


Derek Jeter

Former New York Yankees captain and five-time World Series champion


Hillary Rodham Clinton

Former Secretary of State


Condoleezza Rice

Former Secretary of State


Jon Stewart

Emmy and Peabody Award-winning Comedy Central comedian


Aretha Franklin

Recording Artist and Multiple Grammy Award Winner


Al Gore

45th Vice President of the United States


Tom Brokaw

Broadcast Journalist, Anchor and Managing Editor of NBC Nightly News


Bill Clinton

42nd President of the United States


Madeleine Albright

Secretary of State


Jimmy Carter

39th President of the United States


Desmond Tutu

Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa


Margaret Thatcher

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom


B.B. King

Blues Guitarist, Singer and Songwriter


F.W. de Klerk

President of South Africa


Elie Wiesel

Holocaust Survivor, Author and Peace Advocate


James Carville & Mary Matalin

Senior Political Advisor to President Bill Clinton; Deputy Campaign Manager for President George Bush


Colin Powell

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and 65th Secretary of State of the United States


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The planned Great Names series appearance of actor and philanthropist Matthew McConaughey at Hamilton College originally scheduled for Thursday, April 18, has been postponed due to a conflict with filming for a new McConaughey movie. Organizers are working to reschedule his visit for a date in the fall. A new Great Names guest for April 18 will be announced soon.

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Tina Fey Charms Classes and Sold-Out Field House

As part of the Sacerdote Great Names series at Hamilton College, students had the opportunity to have a small group question-and-answer with Tina Fey. Fey, the executive producer, head writer, and star of NBC’s Emmy Award-winning comedy “30 Rock,” visited Hamilton on Oct. 22 as the latest guest in the Sacerdote series.

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