Sage Steele lands major ESPN gig

Indiana University grad and popular sports broadcaster Sage Steele just won a major promotion at her network, ESPN. Here's how a once shy 12-year-old girl overcame her fears to succeed on one of the world's biggest stages. (Dwight Adams/IndyStar) Wochit

Sage Steele, who as a shy 12-year-old stunned her parents at the dinner table when she announced she would one day be on ESPN, just took that young girl's dream to a new level.

After establishing herself as a popular personality on "NBA Countdown," Steele has been promoted to lead host of “SportsCenter on the Road,” which brings ESPN’s program out of the studio and on site at sporting events

For Steele, a Carmel High School grad and Indiana University grad, that means a much larger -- and more prominent -- on-air role at the network.

She will debut her new position next month during the MLB postseason and at the World Series. She also will go on the road to anchor programs at sports' biggest events, including the Super Bowl, NBA Finals, NFL Draft, NCAA Men’s Final Four, College Football Playoff National Championship game, the Masters and more.

The new job is part of a multi-year contract extension for Steele that ESPN announced Thursday, though financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

“ESPN has been my home for nearly a decade, and to have the chance to ensure that it remains my home for the long-term future absolutely means the world to me,” Steele said in a statement.

In an interview with IndyStar last August, Steele said people often ask how she has stayed so humble as she has moved up the ladder in the national sports media landscape.

“That’s how I was raised,” said Steele, a 43-year-old mother of three with husband Jonathan Bailey. “And if I did change and if my head did get big, I would have the longest line of people waiting to kick my ass.”

She told the story of how she was so shy as a child that her parents took her to doctors to make sure nothing serious was wrong with her. So when Steele later declared to them that she would one day be a sportscaster, they couldn't believe it.

Steele wasn’t particularly athletic. She ran track in junior high and high school and she competed in equestrian. But she loved sports and she knew sports.

“It’s ironic how it all turned out. I can’t believe that little old me, who was too shy growing up, somehow I overcame it," Steele told IndyStar last year. "Yes, by my own strength and hard work. But I’ve had a ton of people caring for me. I’m overwhelmed sometimes.”

With the new role, Steele will continue to serve as the host of the weekend editions of NBA Countdown, as well as other NBA-focused shows.

But to have Steele expanding into a broader sports role with a more visible post is a perfect spot for her, said Rob King, ESPN senior vice president of SportsCenter and News.

“She’s someone fans really relate to,” King said in a statement, "and is a tremendous ambassador for sports and ESPN.”


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