The 2020 WNBA season has been one of the most miraculous events to occur during a time of incredible uncertainty. Amidst the challenging circumstances, one constant voice continues to tell the stories of the amazing women who make up the WNBA.
ESPN’s Holly Rowe will be a part of the broadcast crew during Tuesday’s 10 p.m. game featuring the Fever and the Las Vegas Aces to begin the final week of the 2020 regular season. The games played have been only a small part of Rowe’s duties in Bradenton, which began more than two months ago.
Rowe arrived in Bradenton, Florida toward the middle of July to provide a powerful platform for players and staff to tell their stories. Once the season was delayed and momentum began to build toward the WNBA season heading to IMG Academy, Rowe began preparations for a season unlike any other.
“I had some friends take me on their boat to Bradenton so I could scout the location and I remember thinking this is going to be nice for the players,” Rowe said.
Once the players arrived, Rowe received a confirmation from ESPN she would be going to the Wubble as well. After a strenuous, seven-day quarantining period, Rowe was able to begin her new lifestyle.
“I stayed in my room for four straight days and even though you think that sounds like it would be easy, those four days lasted forever,” Rowe added. “Day three I started thinking I’m going crazy, but then I was finally free in the bubble and it was just incredible to see everybody.”
Two weeks ago, regular season games on August 26 and 27 were postponed as WNBA players continued discussions and reflection on recent events. Rowe was in attendance for games on the first day of postponements and remembers the conversations held during pregame warmups.
“I think that will go down as one of the most intriguing things I ever covered in my career and something I am extremely proud of because there were heated discussions and there were a lot of different viewpoints and passions. Once the decision was made by one team, everyone supported them.”
After late-night deliberation with ESPN executives, Rowe relayed messages from the players, who were wanting to still be able to voice their concerns on a national platform, even though games were not going to be played.
The next day, Rowe was joined on the same court by members of the WNBPA Executive Committee, which featured Fever forward Natalie Achonwa. Rowe led a conversation with the committee to further explain the reasoning behind the brief stop in games.
“I’m so proud of how ESPN supported these women in this moment to make sure that their voices were heard, and their side was documented. (Natalie) was so powerful and so touching in that moment. These were young women in the spotlight that day and the way they handled it with such grace, maturity, dignity and power was wonderful to see.”
When Fever fans turn on ESPN 2 on Tuesday night, they will listen for insight and analysis from Rowe’s courtside position. Her somewhat sequestered seat is behind the basket closest to the visiting team bench, but the throne has remained empty the past few days as she recovered from a biking accident.
In a time as uncertain as ever, her return will only bring a smile to players when they walk on and off the court on Tuesday night. Whether behind the mic, in front of the camera and then prominently displayed on televisions across the world, Fever fans will be able to count on the Rowe’s ebullience to display when discussing the Indiana Fever on Tuesday night.