Tiffany Greene joins HBCU broadcast team as play-by-play announcer for ESPN
The FAMU grad says she finds joy, and balance, in juggling motherhood and work
Tiffany Greene gets paid to ask the tough questions. It’s what she does — and has dreamed of doing ever since kindergarten.
But 10 months ago, with a 6-month-old at home, Greene realized that the roles had been switched, at least temporarily. She found herself questioning herself.
“Certainly, there are times when you question yourself as a new mom: ‘Can I do this?’ ‘Is he going to be OK?’ ‘Can I be away from him?’ ”
Her new son, Bryson, was in good hands at home — with husband, Aaron — but Greene struggled with juggling her day job, one that had her traveling most weekends in the fall, with the one that brought her the most fulfillment and joy.
A play-by-play commentator for ESPN covering a variety of collegiate sports, including basketball, football, softball and volleyball, Greene has added a complete slate of historically black college and university (HBCU) games to her schedule on Thursday nights, calling games alongside veteran Jay Walker.
“There are just a lot of things that you miss out on, even early on, and you find yourself going into this extra mode when you get back home, where I feel like you have to be supermom and superwife because you’re trying to make up for lost time.”
Greene has come a long way since then, and she credits her husband and family support with allowing her to pull through. “I go back to support,” said Greene, who said nursing while on the road was the most challenging part of early motherhood. “If I didn’t have my husband and both sets of grandparents here, I don’t know if I would be able to do this. I know a lot of people do it in different situations when they don’t have family close, but just the load of pressure you feel, especially as a new mom, that meant the world to me.”
In a way, she’s been prepping for this new opportunity at ESPN her whole life.
“This is something that I grew up living,” explained Greene, who earned her bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from Florida A&M University. “I’m a fourth-generation Rattler, so I know HBCU life in its totality, so to be able to call my first full set of [HBCU] games in the conferences I already know is great.”
Greene will be paired with Walker, the former Howard University Bison who joined ESPN in 2005 as a college football analyst and who has called ESPNU Thursday night games for the past four years. It isn’t lost on Greene that having a Bison and a Rattler in the same booth will be interesting.
“Being paired with Jay is a great match,” explained Greene, a native of Tampa, Florida. “There’s already great chemistry there. It’s going to be great to be in the booth, two HBCU grads. You’ll probably hear a lot of banter back and forth about who’s the better HBCU, which is clearly FAMU. I know the Bison are particularly excited after last year’s turnaround season [7-4, second in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, under first-year head coach Mike London], but don’t worry, FAMU is on the way.”
For Greene, the journey to get here, even with the questions, has all been worth it; she is, after all, living out her dream.
“I wrote in my kindergarten yearbook — and I still have it at my parents’ house — that I wanted to be a sportscaster, and that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do,” said Greene, who is the first African-American woman to serve as a play-by-play commentator for a nationally televised college football game on ESPN.
“Anybody who knows me knows that this has been a dream of mine, and not everybody gets the opportunity to say that they’re living their dream.”
Greene, who began working with ESPN as a college football sideline reporter in 2012 and has worked on the Celebration Bowl and a handful of bowl games, doesn’t question herself too much anymore.
“During those tough times, I actually drew strength from my husband and my son. It was amazing, and they gave me the push that I needed to say, ‘You can do this, and we’re behind you 100 percent.’ ”
Longtime SportsCenter anchor Jay Harris is hardly surprised at Greene’s success. “From the first time she asked me to look at her tape, I knew there was something there,” said Harris, one of Greene’s mentors. “Her success is not surprising. I am beyond proud.”
Added Walker: “Tiff is great. We worked together last year, and it was the first time that an African-American woman had ever called a game for ESPN. She’s a rising star, and professional … despite her being a FAMU Rattler.”