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Chris Lees '98 - ESPN/NBC Sports
Several Curry graduates have been making names for themselves at major national sports networks and Chris Lees '98 is continuing that tradition, with stops at ESPN, and currently NBC Sports.
His story is unique in that his role at "The Worldwide Leader in Sports" (based in Bristol, Connecticut) sort of "fell into his lap." He was referred by fellow Curry College classmate, Matt Chant '99. But to his credit, Chris took the opportunity and ran with it, and has became one of ESPN's leading NASCAR experts.
Ironically, when Chris began his career at ESPN, becoming the in-house NASCAR guru was far from what he envisioned, especially after he was awarded back-to-back Emmy Awards in 2003/2004 for his work on ESPN's iconic, 'SportsCenter.'
"I used to help out with the motor sports segments when I was working on our flagship program, 'SportsCenter', and the more I did it, the more I liked it, and eventually I became the go to guy on the subject," he recalled.
"It was only logical that in 2007, when ESPN got the contract to cover NASCAR, that I became a big part of that team."
Since then he has traveled the country covering the sport and in the process has become a huge racing fan. He also got to work out of ESPN's Los Angeles studios on occasion. As the Production Researcher for NASCAR programming, Chris described himself as a second producer.
"My job was to analyze racing statistics and turn them into storylines to present on the air," he explained. "Those stories were not only shown on television, but they were also repurposed for ESPN.com, broadcast on ESPN radio and published in ESPN the Magazine."
Chris then parlayed that success to solidify his curent position as a Motorsports Researcher at NBC Sports.
A local kid from nearby West Roxbury, Massachusetts, Chris and his older brother would often listen to the student-produced rock and hip-hop shows on Curry College's award-winning flagship station, WMLN 91.5 FM back in the early 90s. It was only fitting that Chris would eventually choose the school for its Communication program.
"I looked at other schools with Communication programs like Syracuse and Notre Dame, but after I visited Curry on Accepted Student Day, saw the radio station and met the folks who worked there, it was a no-brainer."
Before coming to Curry, Chris always considered himself a shy kid, but felt comfortable in the intimate Curry setting, which eventually would help him thrive.
"My favorite part of college was covering athletics for the radio station," he remembers. "It really helped me with my confidence and I was able to fine tune my on-air skills."
And off campus he secured a prime internship at WEEI's 'The Big Show with Glen Ordway,' formerly the #1 drive-time sports radio show in the country.
Chris still keeps in touch with many of his fellow Curry alumni and pretty much every year, takes time out of his busy schedule to come back to the Curry campus and speak with students about his experiences at ESPN and NBC Sports.
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