Coachman takes unique journey to Sportscenter


 Jonathan Coachman's journey to the ESPN SportsCenter anchor desk would be considered unique compared to that of his colleagues.
High school  athlete, college athlete and sports anchor for two local news stations are typical resume builders for someone in Coachman's position.
 It is the nearly 10 years that Coachman spent as an announcer and performer in the world of professional wrestling that puts the unique twist on his journey.
“It was certainly something they (ESPN) had never done before, bringing somebody from wrestling,” Coachman said, “The first two years, there were a couple of people who didn't want me there. They didn't think I had the qualifications. They didn't think I had done the right things to get there.”
Coachman has incorporated what he learned during his career with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE) into his current position with ESPN.
“It teaches you not to be glued to the teleprompter, to ad lib. Doing SportsCenter is entertainment,” Coachman said.
 Along with anchoring SportsCenter, Coachman also hosts “Football Sundays,”  a television and radio simulcast during the NFL season. He also hosts ESPN/s extensive television coverage of college basketball three days a week.
 Coachman, a longtime friend of Concordia Junior-Senior High School athletic director Brandon Rice, was in Concordia on Wednesday to talk to the students at the school.
 Rice and Coachman, who is from McPherson, were teammates on the McPherson College basketball team for two years.
“Over the years we have maintained our friendship and stayed in contact,” Coachman said.
 Coachman talked to the students about being excited about what they are doing.
“Three things I live by when I am doing sports, be enthusiastic about what I am doing, I am intense and I am excited about what I am doing,” Coachman said, “Sometimes you need an outside voice to talk to these kids. They don't want to listen to someone they see every day.”
 After graduating from McPherson College, Coachman got a job as a weekend sports anchor at KAKE television in Wichita.
 Coachman said he talked to the KAKE news director on the day he had gotten fired. The director told him he  wanted to do something nice for someone before he left, and gave him a contract.
Following his time at KAKE, Coachman worked at KMBC-TV where his duties including covering the Kansas City Chiefs full-time.
 Coachman was covering a WWF event at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo. when wrestler Owen Hart was killed when he fell from the rafters during his entrance on May 23, 1999.
 The young reporter was interviewed on “Good Morning, America” and “Larry King Live” about the incident.
 When tickets sales were slow for another WWE event later that year, Coachman was asked to help promote the event by interviewing wrestler Shawn Michaels.
Michaels was accompanied by a WWE senior vice president, who was impressed with Coachman and offered him a job as an announcer.
Coachman was still under contract with KMBC, and had to wait until the end of football season to join WWE.
 During the four months he was still employed with KMBC, Coachman traveled with the WWE to learn the ropes.
 “It was an interesting time. It became a very difficult time because everybody knew where I was going,” Coachman said, “It was difficult, but it was the right move.”
Coachman worked as a backstage reporter and announcer for several years.
In 2003, the WWE chairman approached Coachman about getting into the ring.
Along with working for WWE, Coachman also called  games for College Sports Television and the New York Liberty of the WNBA. He also hosted in-studio shows for the New York Knicks on MSG.
Coachman was contacted by ESPN for an audition in 2008, and was offered a job.
While he has done many things during his time at ESPN, covering the NFL is Coachman's favorite.
“It is just a fun sport. The NFL is by far my favorite sport to cover,” Coachman said.
Coachman offered his opinion on some of the current issues in sports.
The situation with Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, Coachman called “tough.”
“I think Minnesota has made the right decision,” Coachman said.
The Vikings have placed Peterson on the exempt list after he was charged with felony child-abuse in Texas for allegedly injuring his four-year-old son by spanking him with a wooden switch.
“You look at those pictures, and they are very disturbing. I don't care how he was brought up, you can't do that now. Do I think he is a bad person? No,” Coachman said.
An avid golfer, Coachman doesn't like the U.S. Chances against Europe in the Ryder Cup next week in Scotland.
“Can't wait. I think we are going to get drilled,” Coachman said, “It is unfortunate our hottest golfers can't play. I think they are going to be intimidated playing away from home.”
Coachman isn't sure that the Kansas State University football team can keep pace with fifth-ranked Auburn when the two teams meet tonight in Manhattan.
“You have to score 35 or more to stay with them. I don't think K-State has that much firepower,” Coachman said, “It is a big deal to get the game in Manhattan.”
Coachman is a longtime Chiefs fan, but doesn't believe they can make it back to the playoffs after they lost their first two games.
“If you are 0-2 it is almost impossible to make the playoffs,” Coachman said.
Coachman said he sees the Chiefs finishing up 4-12 or 5-11.


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