Last week, ESPN announced a new multi-year contract for longtime SportsCenter anchor Nicole Briscoe. Briscoe has been with the network since 2008, first serving as a NASCAR pre-race host before transitioning to SportsCenter in 2015.
A native of Wisconsin who grew up in Roscoe, Ill., Briscoe has a unique back story. A former Miss Illinois Teen USA, she has extensive experience covering auto racing and is married to former IndyCar driver Ryan Briscoe.
These days, you can find Briscoe bright and early co-anchoring SportsCenter: AM with Randy Scott. The show gets underway at 7 a.m ET, and Briscoe is in the studio much earlier than that.
We caught up with Briscoe for our “21 Questions” feature to discuss her new contract, who she admires at ESPN, her future marathon plans, how she and her husband handle Christmas shopping and much more. Get ready to learn about Briscoe than you ever expected.
Let’s get started.
1. Congratulations on your new extension. What are your thoughts as you sign another multi-year deal at ESPN?
NB: I’m thrilled. ESPN was always the dream, and even now? After 12 years, I still have to pinch myself. No one should ever take living their dream for granted. I certainly don’t.
2. What is something you want to accomplish in the next five years at ESPN that you haven’t done already?
NB: I don’t think you can ever settle. Randy Scott and I (along with our producers) have worked incredibly hard over the last year or so to turn SportsCenter:AM into what it is today. We want to keep having fun, but continue to make it even better. I’d like to be more involved with our Formula 1 coverage…..maybe pick up the NYC Marathon too. The business is constantly changing. ESPN is still growing and as a company we are always evolving. Who knows what projects could present as opportunities?! I learned a long time ago to never say never. I think that same theory applies to what I want to do next.
3. You have worked on pretty much every SportsCenter time slot. Now you’re on the early one. How has that been going for you? What are the positives and negatives?
NB: Well, the 3 a.m. alarm is definitely the negative. But a positive is that I’m home every day before lunch, and I get the rest of my day with my family. That said I turn into a pumpkin as soon as my kids are in bed, and they may tell you that mommy’s patience isn’t exactly stellar come 7 p.m.. I’ve been really fortunate to work with a lot of great people, but the group I’m with now is incredible. We have fun. We challenge each other, and in a lot of ways? We’ve become a family. I honestly would not change a thing.
4. New Year’s Eve: Overrated, underrated, properly rated?
NB: As a party night, NYE is totally overrated. However, I expect big things this year. My husband and I will be in Sydney. With all due respect to NYC, there is NOTHING like being in Sydney when the clock strikes midnight. Sydney totally does it right.
5. How often have you traveled or do you travel to your husband’s native Australia? What are some of your favorite places/experiences there?
NB: I’ve been fortunate to go to Australia a fair bit over the last 14 years. My in-laws are in Sydney, and it may be my favorite city. Our kids have been a handful of times too. (If you ever want to talk traveling with little kids, I’m your girl.)
Fave places in Sydney? The fish markets because the fresh fish is just so good. Bondi Beach is always fun. I love going for a run through the botanical gardens and then spending time near the Opera House and the Rocks.
Ryan and I engaged on Lizard Island up in the Great Barrier Reef. What an incredible trip and experience. Visiting family withstanding, I never want to re-visit vacation spots until I hit up all the places on my list. But I’d go to the reef in a heartbeat!
6. If you could pick one athlete, dead or alive, to star in a “This is SportsCenter” commercial with, who would you pick?
NB: Brett Favre. 1. My brother has a massive man crush on Favre. 2. My brother has a massive man crush on Favre. 3. My brother has a massive man crush on Favre. I’d win every holiday conversation forever.
7. Is Die Hard a Christmas movie or not?
NB: I’ve never seen Die Hard!
8. Name a person(s) you admire at ESPN and why.
NB: Just one person? That’s impossible. There are too many. John Anderson, Kenny Mayne, and Bucci [John Buccigross] are SC legends. They’ve helped mold, build, and keep the show what it is today. I’ve learned so much from watching and sharing the desk with them.
Randy Scott is the best work husband I could possibly ask for, and he’s a fantastic father. The effort and lack of sleep that goes into balancing his life is tremendous. He’s as good as they come.
Laura Rutledge is an absolute star and she’s a gem of a human. I love swapping mommy stories with her. She helps makes me feel a little more sane.
9. You went to high school with Danica Patrick. Are you two still friends now?
NB: She’s younger than me. Our paths crossed in high school, but I would not have called us friends then.
10. Rank these modes of transportation from best to worst: Planes, trains, automobiles.
NB: Best: Planes
Worst: Trains (Unless you’re in Europe)
11. The Cubs are likely to trade away one or more members of their “core” this offseason. Your ESPN colleague Jeff Passan mentioned Willson Contreras, Albert Almora, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and even Anthony Rizzo as possibilities. My fiance is a Cubs fan and is devastated that Bryant and/or Schwarber could be dealt. How do you feel about the “breaking up” of a group that has been part of the most successful run in franchise history?
NB: I’ll always have fabulous memories from 2016, but I’m selfish. I want to see the Cubs win again. I’d be pretty bummed if Bryzzo was broken up. My favorite player is also probably Javy Baez. So keep Baez and Willson Contreras. Everyone else? What can “we” get for them?
12. What is something about covering auto racing or the sport of auto racing itself that outsiders wouldn’t know or understand?
NB: I hate it when people say drivers aren’t athletes. It’s soooooooooo obnoxious and close minded. Driving is physically demanding and mentally taxing. The whole idea that it’s “just driving in circles” is BS.
13. You were planning to run the Chicago Marathon but could not due to a stress fracture. What is the latest with your plans for running races?
NB: I consider Chicago my unfinished business, but I’m going to try to run NYC in 2020. It’s the 50th anniversary of the race, and I so humbled watching from the finish line this year. Ryan absolutely crushed the race too. I was so proud of him! I ’m still struggling a little bit with my leg. It’s been really frustrating! Hopefully I’m healthy enough to run the NYC 1/2 Marathon in March. That’s my first big goal of 2020.
14. Keeping with that topic, what was it like for you to watch your husband complete the New York Marathon?
NB: I cried watching him make his way to the finish line. He’d worked so hard for 20 weeks, and he crushed his goal by about 12 minutes. I also hate him 🙂 He’s such a good runner. He makes it looks soooooo easy.
15. Your main role now is as an anchor but what are some of the most memorable events you’ve covered in the field?
NB: 1. Doing a show from the White House in 2009 and interviewing President Obama.
2. Hosting the Indianapolis 500.
3. “Sideline” reporting for the Home Run Derby in Cincy.
16. What is the best sporting event you’ve attended as a fan?
NB: I was at the Super Bowl in Dallas the year Green Bay beat the Steelers. That was awesome. Countless Cubs games with the family….and my kiddos. I took Finley to her first game at Wrigley when I was VERY pregnant with Blake back in June of 2016. This last summer Blake went to her first game with me and Finely and a bunch of my Wisconsin family. Those are the best.
17. As the parents of two young daughters, how hard is it for you and your husband to balance working this time of year with making sure “Santa” leaves them a lot of gifts on Christmas?
NB: My to do list at times is pretty long. But, the benefit of getting up at 3 a.m. is that I have very long days. My workouts have been a little sparse the last week or so as I’ve made room for other stuff including Finley’s 6th birthday and her 1st kid party. If my kids are happy? Then I’m happy. I hope to make their Christmases as magical as mine where growing up. It’s a really special and fun time of year with little ones.
18. During your first few years out of college, you held broadcasting jobs in Rockford (Ill.), Fort Wayne (Ind.) and Indianapolis? What lessons did you learn during those years that you’ve carried with you until now?
NB: When I was in Rockford, I had someone tell me to pretend like I’m always just talking to my mom. It was an effort to do that in the beginning, but I still think about that when I’m writing my stuff now. I hope when people watch the show they feel like they’re at a table with friends. I never want to be talking AT you…to you and with you.
Work hard…and then keep working. I still have a really hard time saying NO. I’m so incredibly grateful for my time at all 3 of those stops. The lessons learned there are invaluable.
19. You were born in Wisconsin and grew up in Illinois. So. important question: If given the choice, brats and cheese or deep dish pizza?
NB: You realize there’s cheese on pizza, right? There is nothing in my life that can’t be fixed with cheese. Cheese and wine.
20. Your life suddenly depends on having to sing all the lyrics of one song correctly. Which one are you picking?
NB: “Let it Go” from Frozen. You do realize I have a 6 year old and a 3 year old, right?
21. As a Packers fan, do you want to see a Rodgers/Brady Super Bowl matchup before one of them retires?
NB: I want to see a Rodgers Super Bowl. I don’t care who the guy is on the other side of the field as long as Green Bay wins.