If you’re an avid ESPN consumer, you’ve no doubt seen Antonietta Collins on your television, computer or phone screen. An employee at the Worldwide Leader since 2013, ‘Toni’ is a SportsCenter fixture who has also branched out as a features reporter for the network.
A native of Mexico, Collins is the daughter of a legendary television reporter and a former college athlete. If you follow her on social media, you know she is also a dedicated runner who is devoted to her dogs.
We caught up with Collins recently for our “21 Questions” series and asked her about a ton of different subjects: some serious, others less so. Get ready to know more about her than you ever thought you would.
Below you can find out Antonietta’s dream ESPN dinner table, her journalistic influences, what she listens to when she runs and much, much more.
Here we go…
1. Would you rather live in a world where it’s always 90°F or it’s always 50°F?
AC: Growing up in Texas and Florida, I’m used to sweating profusely. So give me the heat. I don’t mind it!
2. What three ESPN people (plus you) would make for the most-entertaining dinner table?
AC: John Fox, Jon Sciambi and Dan Le Batard. Fox is an NFL analyst now at ESPN but words can’t describe how awesome of a coach he is. Sciambi does MLB play-by-play and is a sweet little Koala bear but can knock you out like Canelo when needed. And Le Batard? The man is a genius. I grew up in Miami where he is king. He’s goals.
3. You have five SONGS (not albums or artists) to bring with you on a deserted island. What would they be?
AC: Marc Anthony: Vivir Mi Vida
Bad Bunny: Mia
Don Omar: Danza Kudoro
Luke Bryan: I Don’t Want This Night to End
Carlos Vives: Cuando Nos Volvamos a Encontrar
4. You travel extensively for work and for pleasure. What country that you haven’t visited yet would you most like to go to?
AC: I’ve been to other European countries, but I’ve never been to Italy. I love history, architecture, museums and great food, so I’d love to visit Rome, Florence, Venice, Sicily & Cinque Terre. But I’m kind of afraid I would never come back.
5. Other than your mother, who is a journalist, who has been/is a major influence for you in your career?
AC: Beside my mother, I’d say Claudia Trejos has been a major influence in my life and career. She is a trailblazer for Latina sports journalists. She epitomizes hard work, dedication, sacrifice and success. I met Claudia when I worked at Univision and she took me under her wing. In a highly competitive environment and even a few years ago, it was tougher being a woman trying to break into TV sports journalism, she guided and supported me through the good and the bad. And now that we get to work together again at ESPN covering boxing — she is the queen of boxing — has been a blessing in disguise. She is truly the best.
6. Backstreet Boys or N’Sync?
AC: Backstreet Boys. When they were huge, I swore I would marry Brian Littrell. First heartbreak ever. It’s been downhill ever since.
7. The US/Mexico border and immigration, illegal and legal, gets so much news attention these days. Can you describe what it was like for you covering that area on the front lines early in your career?
AC: Not even trying to be funny, but it felt like a Wild West movie. The stories we would cover day in and day out would leave your mouth wide open. It ranged from homicides, drug trafficking, shootings, kidnappings, people risking their lives to cross the Rio Grande. Having lived in Florida and Ohio before McAllen, Texas, I just could not believe more of these stories wouldn’t reach a bigger audience back then. (And many still don’t!)
That said, covering the US-Mexico border was the best thing that could have happened to me because it taught me to be a reporter first. And, perhaps most importantly, it taught me the responsibility and privilege it is to have a broad platform to share people’s stories.
8. What’s the scariest movie you’ve ever seen?
AC: “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.” Hands down, this movie messed me up. LAST TIME I EVER SAW A SCARY MOVIE. Heck no…never ever ever again have I watched a scary movie.
9. Who is your favorite all-time non-Messi Barcelona player and why?
AC: Oooh…that’s a hard one. I have a list that goes on and on, but if I had to pick it would be Andres Iniesta. He is a true magician with the ball. He made his debut in 2002 and every year he upped the bar and managed to awe us with his talent on the field. But what is even more amazing is the respect he gets not only from his teammates but his opponents.
When I played soccer, I also played midfield so he was my favorite player. I would watch how he would distribute, create plays and control plays — the ball, the momentum. The way he touched the ball it felt like it was glued to his feet…just like Messi. You knew I had to get Messi in there!
10. Following you on social media, you are very involved in different philanthropic efforts. Can you share some of those with us?
AC: Definitely! Since I was a child, I’ve loved animals and all my pets have been rescues, so when I came across the organization Running4Rescues, I knew I had to help them. It’s a small foundation in Connecticut with no overhead or paid employees. They maximize the amount of money that goes directly to animals in need by giving it to small, grassroots organizations that save animals from shelters before they are put to sleep. They are my heroes.
Another organization I’m passionate about is Striking out Poverty, which is part of the organization Food for the Hungry. It connects MLB players and fans to help people rise out of poverty. I did a story three years ago and saw firsthand how that group is helping change the world. Right now, I’m sponsoring two kids through their program: one in the Dominican Republic and another in Rwanda. The sponsorship helps the children’s community by sourcing food, better education, clean water and medical treatment.
11. Eliminate one: Pizza, tacos, burgers, wings.
AC: Easy — wings. I wouldn’t miss the heartburn.
12. Since you arrived at ESPN, what is the one sport you think you’ve learned the most about or picked up the most new interest in?
AC: Archery! Just kidding, although I did cover it during the Pan American games in Lima last month and absolutely LOVED it.
But with something more mainstream? It’d have to be college football. Growing up my family loved futbol, baseball and boxing and my first years covering sports was mostly Mexican professional soccer (Liga MX). All that changed here at ESPN, where one of our top sports is college football, so I had to pick it up fast.
13. If you had the opportunity to profile any given subject or topic in sports, what would it be?
AC: I would do anything to profile Roberto Clemente. He’s my favorite ball player all time.
14. What was your go-to ice cream truck order as a kid?
AC: OMG…the Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Bar! So good!
15. What is the best sporting event you’ve attended as a fan or not in a work capacity?
AC: I don’t really have a good answer for that one, because I covered the Mavericks’ 2011 championship over the Heat (my home team.)
16. What is one thing that goes into the production and execution of an edition of SportsCenter that the average person wouldn’t understand or know about?
AC: The time producers get in for the 7 a.m. SportsCenter shows. Anchors get to show up at 3:45 a.m. Producers get in even earlier and they stay hours after the show is over. It’s truly admirable the time and work they put in to the shows and my respect goes to the morning anchors. I get to fill in when they are sick or in vacation. Every time I do the shows, I can’t help but admire the professionalism.
17. You’re an avid runner. What’s on your running playlist?
AC: Haha. So, my playlist is so random, but: Maluma, David Bisbal, Lizzo, Jason DeRulo, Carlos Vives, Dua Lipa, Luke Bryan, Gente De Zona, Hanson, Kes, Luis Fonsi, Nicky Jam, Bad Bunny, One Direction, Ryan Cabrera, Sam Hunt, Pink, WestLife, Buckcherry, Fat Joe, Taylor Swift.
18. Which TV show are you binging currently?
AC: This is kinda embarrassing. So I don’t watch much TV, but right now obsessed with Gilmore Girls…lol yes. Also watching The Office and the documentary Manchester City: All or Nothing.
I am a vieja — an old lady. I go to bed super early so I never manage to finish them! (Also, I like them so much I don’t want them to end, so I take my time. haha)
19. If you could give your high school self one piece of advice, what would it be?
AC: To believe in myself and that I have the ability to do anything I want to achieve no matter the circumstance.
20. You have reported on and immersed yourself in some very emotional stories (Yordano Ventura’s death, poverty in the DR, border issues prior to ESPN). How do you balance out doing your job and conveying the story with being a human and reacting to what you see?
AC: I’ve never been one to be able to truly block out all of my emotions. Remembering that I’m human and being real has helped me tell people’s stories. They may be strangers but I try to put myself in their shoes and realize that what I can do is help them with how we tell their stories and convey their emotions. To truly care is a must for me. It can be tough, but I’d rather be myself and be completely invested in a story rather than seem like a robot and have no passion or feeling for the people I cover.
21. Many ESPN employees and personalities own dogs and are dog-lovers. You are one of them. I think ESPN should create an area on campus in Bristol for all the pups to hang out and play in while their owners work. What do you think about that?
AC: Can we please schedule you a meeting with Jimmy Pitaro…TODAY?!? That is genius. That is up there with creating a taco truck that goes around neighborhoods!
You don’t understand how much that would help many of us dog lovers. I would probably even work knowing that my doggies are having a blast while mama earns the dinero to buy them toys.
You can read more of our interviews with sports media stars here.