Beat’s Whitehill to work as ESPN commentator
by William Brethertont
wbretherton@mdjonline.com
June 24, 2011 12:34 AM | 4364 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A two-time Women’s World Cup player, Cat Whitehill (4) won’t be on the field with the American team when play begins in Germany. Instead, she’ll be in the press box, serving as a color commentator for ESPN.
<BR>Photo special to the MDJ
A two-time Women’s World Cup player, Cat Whitehill (4) won’t be on the field with the American team when play begins in Germany. Instead, she’ll be in the press box, serving as a color commentator for ESPN.
Photo special to the MDJ
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KENNESAW — Cat Whitehill may not be playing for the U.S. national team, but she’ll still be spending the next few weeks in Germany, working for ESPN as a color commentator for the Women’s World Cup.

The Beat defender will be there with two of her Atlanta teammates, active national team players Carli Lloyd and Heather Mitts.

“It’s a great opportunity to be on a big stage,” Whitehill said. “If I can’t play in the World Cup, then I can at least go and watch some games.”

It will be a change for the 29-year-old, who played in the 2003 and 2007 World Cups, playing every minute of the Americans’ six games in ’07.

But even though Whitehill won’t be on the field, that doesn’t mean she won’t be getting plenty of work in.

“It’s long and tiring,” Whitehill said of her new role as a broadcaster. “People might not think that, but games are an hour-and-a-half long. You have to have a lot of energy and talk a lot.

“You learn when you should not be talking and let the play-by-play person talk. You don’t say, ‘I think,’ because, if I say it, then I think it. I ramble a bit, so I try to keep things more concise. As you go, you learn that kind of stuff. You learn what people like and what people don’t like.”

Whitehill is scheduled to call nine games alongside play-by-play announcer Beth Mowins. A third-year player in Women’s Professional Soccer, Whitehill has played alongside some of the world’s best players including Brazil’s Marta, Canada’s Christine Sinclair and the United States’ Abby Wambach.

“It definitely gives you a fresh perspective,” said Whitehill, who played the entirety of the Beat’s first 11 games before being excused from Wednesday’s game at Sky Blue FC. “I’m going to be the only analyst that’s still playing. It definitely helps that I’ve played against a lot of the women that are in the Women’s World Cup.

“I just defended against Marta and Sinclair, and can tell you their tendencies more than playing against them every day.“

For Whitehill, announcing the Women’s World Cup sets the stage for her future after soccer, which was foreshadowed more by her upbringing than by her current playing experience.

“I’ve wanted to do this since I was in the fifth grade,” she said. “It was when Robin Roberts was coming up. My mom started listing some ideas for me, and she said, ‘Why not become a sports broadcaster?’

“I just put it in everyone’s ear that it’s what I wanted to do. I will turn down the volume listening to games and will kind of practice. I’m a dork like that, but it’s a lot of fun for me. I love watching sports, and I could do it all day. I can’t think of a better job.”

Whitehill’s debut will come with Monday’s Japan-New Zealand game, broadcast live on ESPN at 9 a.m. Eastern. The match features Japanese midfielder Aya Miyama, who spent last season with the Atlanta Beat, and New Zealand defender Ali Riley, who currently stars for Western New York.

Whitehill will announce a group-state match between Canada and Nigeria, featuring Beat teammate Kelly Parker, a midfielder on the Canadian side.

“When I told Kelly, she told me to make sure to give a shout out to the Atlanta Beat,” Whitehill said.

Though Whitehill won’t be covering any of the U.S. matches, nor any games in the knockout stage, the experience may prove vital in her goal to become a television reporter possibly covering her other favorite sport — college football.

“I love college football,” the Birmingham, Ala., native said. “It’s my favorite sport to watch, for sure, being from an SEC family. Mom went to Florida, dad went to Georgia and my sister went to Auburn.

“Erin Andrews and Wendi Nix do such a great job, and now even Michelle Beadle. Those are the people that I would like to be like. To get the feel of the crowd or the studio, getting to watch every single game as your job would be so cool to me.”
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