Q&A: Northwestern volleyball alum Emily Ehman talks sports broadcasting career


Photo courtesy of Emily Ehman

Emily Ehman (Medill ’20) interviews an athlete. The Northwestern volleyball alum has covered events ranging from NCAA championships to the NBA Summer League for the Big Ten Network.

Charlotte Varnes, Managing Editor

Balancing academics and volleyball, Emily Ehman (Medill ’20) wasn’t able to throw herself into student broadcasting until her senior year at Northwestern. 

Her journalism career hasn’t slowed down since then. A broadcaster at the Big Ten Network, Ehman has already covered events like the NBA Summer League, the Orange Bowl and the Women’s College World Series just two years into her career. The Daily spoke with Ehman to learn about her journey post-NU and her experiences in the sports media world. 

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

The Daily: What was it like making the transition from playing volleyball to covering the sport on the professional level?

Emily Ehman: (After graduation), I realized I had been applying to jobs I didn’t really want. I decided one day I was going to stop doing that and just focus on broadcasting. I wanted to edit (videos) better and become a better interviewer and get some reps for my reel. I looked at what I knew best; that was Big Ten volleyball. I started a web show in May 2020 called “Big Ten Volleytalk,” and I would interview Big Ten players, alumni and coaches about their experiences. I pitched it to volleyballmag.com and they picked it up as a social digital series, which was super exciting for me to get some platform to put my work out and establish myself as one of the only people who were covering volleyball at the time. 

I had a few connections at the Big Ten Network because I interned there in college and I kept reaching out to them saying, “Hey, put me on a game.” They ended up putting me on a game in February 2021. It was Nebraska-Maryland, and it was the first game I ever called and I had no idea what I was doing. They took a chance on me, and it ended up going really well. 

The Daily: What is your day-to-day like at BTN?

Emily Ehman: It very much depends on the time of year. I have two main jobs. I am a digital host, where I cover football, men’s basketball and volleyball. During the season last year, I would turn out typically two to three pieces of content per week — volleyball-focused. In the fall, I also hosted a digital show called “The Replies,” and we would break down some fun things, whether it was someone’s crazy uniform or a play. The fall is more day-to-day content, and the winter, spring and summer is mostly events and covering stuff on a bigger scale.

The other side of my job is broadcasting. I’m a color commentator for volleyball, which, in the fall, is an absolutely crazy time doing about two games per week. It’s not too much travel because we call most of the games from our Chicago studios. 

The Daily: Do you have any favorite moment so far at BTN?

Emily Ehman: I covered the NCAA volleyball championship last fall, and Wisconsin and Nebraska were playing so it worked out perfectly for me to go. (It was) two of these perennial powerhouse teams I had been covering all season long. It was one of the best matches in NCAA history — it was so fun. To have two of those teams I had become so close with and covered during the season and watch it all come to a head was so fun. I remember crying after because it was so exciting to see these players do so well, these coaches I adore and seeing how much volleyball has grown. 

The Daily: At BTN, you’ve created a series called “She’s Shining,” where you highlight women student athletes. What was the inspiration behind that?

Emily Ehman: As a digital host, a lot of content we do is very collaborative. You can kind of pitch anything you want and they’re like, “Absolutely. Go for it.” This was one area I really wanted to highlight. I’m passionate about pushing women’s sports forward and giving these female athletes and coaches the coverage they deserve. I came up with the idea of a minute segment each week to pick my top performer of the week, whether it was a team that won a championship or an athlete that crushed it. It’s very cool, and I’m grateful for the position I have to cover our female athletes and try to do a bit more for them.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @charvarnes11

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