“That was incredible,” recalled Stark, a Baltimore native who was a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. “I’m forever indebted because when I graduated, I had a tape. Nowadays you can record anything on an iPhone and get any kind of footage you need, but back then a tape was gold because that’s what you took to news directors.”
Stark, a mother of four whose son, Mike, will be a first-year student at UVA next fall, is now a host and reporter for the multiple Emmy Award-winning show, “NFL 360,” on the NFL Network.
UVA Today caught up with Stark for a wide-ranging discussion.
Q. What are some of your fondest memories from your time as a UVA student?
A. I made such good friends right away, and I think that was so important for me – the social aspect when I first got there – because it was a big school and I had come from an all-girls private school. To this day, my closest friends are 10 UVA girls. We have a group text going every day, which is awesome.
I loved the academics; I loved to be challenged. I majored in foreign affairs and minored in Spanish. The sports are obviously amazing, and I loved the camaraderie and the team spirit. And so it was really a combination of everything.
Q. During summers while you were at UVA, you worked at “CBS Evening News With Dan Rather.” What was that experience like?
A. I’ll never forget – Dan Rather met with all the interns and he said, “This is the type of job you give up your life for.” I thought, “Oh, gosh” because here I am a female and I knew I wanted to have kids and I’m thinking, “How could I do this?” because I was so interested in covering news. And that’s why sports worked for me, because if you’re planning a family and have little kids, breaking news doesn’t really work. I wasn’t really willing to give up family reunions and important things, life-wise.
For me, being a mom and having this career was really a balancing act, and sports was the way to do it because, even though there’s breaking news in sports, sports is planned. You can plan around when the games are and when you’re traveling … And I’ve always loved sports because it’s just the ultimate reality TV. You just never know what’s going to happen.
Q. You eventually went on to ESPN and ABC and covered so many huge sporting events. What were some of your most memorable ones?
A. When I was right out of college and working for Home Team Sports, which covered the Orioles and Capitals and the Wizards, I did an Orioles game that I knew President Clinton would be attending. I said to my boss, “I’m going to interview the president today,” and he was like, “Gosh, he’s going to be around Secret Service and I think that’s something that needs to be lined up.” But I remember calling my dad and saying, “I’m going to interview the president today.”
So, sure enough, I figured out a way to interview Clinton. It was spring training and so I talked to him about baseball and what it means to America. That was pretty cool. I was 22 and interviewing the president.