Every summer the Capstone Report interviews journalists covering college football. This summer we have the pleasure to present a Q&A with Amanda Pflugrad. Pflugrad is one of the anchors of Total College Sports and many of you may remember her from watching Oregon football 2006-2010 when Amanda Pflugrad was an Oregon cheerleader and featured as a Sports Illustrated Cheerleader of the Week.

In this Q&A, Pflugrad talks about a range of subjects including her journalism philosophy—a philosophy influenced by growing up in a football family. You can watch Pflugrad on Total College Sports (visible in our sidebar or on our college football video page). Also, you can follow Pflugrad on twitter @AmandaPflugrad (twitter.com/amandaflugrad) on Instagram at: instagram.com/amandapflugrad/ and on Facebook at the Amanda Pflugrad page.

Amanda Pflugrad
Amanda Pflugrad

Q&A with Amanda Pflugrad

Capstone Report: You host, write and produce daily content for Total College Sports. Could you tell us a little about how this works and how long it takes to produce a typical segment?

Amanda Pflugrad: Each morning, TCS meets to brainstorm segments to be aired that same day. This short execution timeline keeps me on my toes because the subject matter is all reliant on what’s relevant in the world of sports NOW. We produce three to four segments a day and I write my own scripts before the sports analyst arrives. The producer reviews my scripts and then we shoot the segments. It is an exciting, fast paced job where content is pitched, created and then aired on the same day.

CR: Is there a particular philosophy you bring to covering sports?

Amanda Pflugrad: Growing up in a football family, I developed relationships with the coaching staff and athletes. When I’m covering sports I look at the players as people. It is important to understand athletes on a personal level as well as a playing basis. This helps personalize my interviews and makes them more conversational. I think understanding players from a personal standpoint allows me to establish trust and to set myself apart from other reporters. It’s important for the athletes to know that you will deliver a fair story, and represent them for who they are on and off the field/court.

CR: You mention your dad and the influence of being a coach’s daughter. What are some of the lessons your dad taught you?

Amanda Pflugrad: My dad has influenced me so much in life and I am proud to call him my father. A few lessons that stick out are the value of hard work, staying determined and never accepting “no” as an answer. Always give 110% percent and put your head down and keep grinding. You are guaranteed to face adversity in your life, but it is all about how you respond to it. He taught me to believe in myself and not worry about the outside “noise”. When I am conducting an interview it is not about me, it is about respecting the interviewee and telling their story.

CR: What influenced your choice of broadcast journalism as a career?

Amanda Pflugrad: I enjoy interacting with people and sharing stories. Since athletics have always played a big role in my life, I thought it made sense to combine my passion for sports and storytelling with broadcasting. There is something to be said about telling someone else’s story and bringing to light something that holds a lot of value to them. I am fascinated to learn how someone got to where they are and to hear about their vision for their future.

CR: Who are some journalists you admire?

Amanda Pflugrad: Sam Ponder, Michelle Beadle, Wendy Nix, Sarah Walsh are the journalists that I admire. These women stick out to me because they are able to deliver information while at the same time interjecting their personalities. Their passion for their job radiates on screen and that appeals to viewers. They have a confidence instilled in themselves that I try to emulate.

As for male broadcasters I admire Kirk Herbstreit for his professionalism and poise on camera. Neil Everett and Charles Barkley bring a great sense of humor to the profession.

CR: As a journalist, who are your daily must-reads so you can stay current on news, trends, etc.?

Amanda Pflugrad: ESPN, Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports, FOX Sports, Big Lead Sports, Sporting News and USA Today.

Amanda Pflugrad With the duck
Amanda Pflugrad With the duck
CR: You spent four years as an Oregon cheerleader, what was that like? And were there lessons regarding work ethic, etc. that you feel help as a college graduate?

Amanda Pflugrad: Cheering at Oregon was one of the best experiences of my life. I was surrounded by great teammates and coaches and got to watch all the games from the sidelines. Who wouldn’t love that? Running into Autzen Stadium on gameday was such a rush. Traveling to all the PAC-12 stadiums was an added bonus to my college career.

When I was a cheerleader, I learned the value of both hard work and time management. Cheerleading and journalism were both my passions and I had to make them both a priority. My friends would attest that I spent numerous nights in the journalism lab working on assignments weeks before the deadline. I was one of the captains my senior year which made for even more responsibility. This time in my life called for a lot of focus and the ability to separate my schoolwork and cheerleading. I always viewed cheerleading as my outlet from my school/work schedule.

CR: Did you cheer prior to Oregon?
Amanda Pflugrad: I cheered for two years in high school before I made the team at Oregon. I was a gymnast for 10 years and I chose cheerleading so I could still incorporate tumbling into my daily life. I also played soccer, basketball and ran track.

CR: Is there any advice you would give to those considering a career in journalism?

Amanda Pflugrad: There will be those who don’t believe in you, but it is important to stay true to yourself and what you are passionate about. If you let people discourage you, the only person standing in your way is yourself. The value of hard work is very important but so is your drive and no one can take that away from you. Stand firm in what you believe in and let nothing move you.

1. My advice would be during college get involved with as many internships in order to get more content for your reel before graduation.

2. Networking is so important in this industry. Meet as many people as you can and ask for advice. Let them know what you are looking to do and keep in contact with them!

3. Be well researched on the subject matter that you are covering. There is a respect level that forms when you come prepared and can take any curve balls that are thrown your way.

4. Let your personality come through on camera. Sometimes, it’s easy to get so focused on the script and forget to just talk and be conversational. Some of the best advice that I got from my producer was to pretend that I was just talking to a friend about sports at a bar.

5. Finally, I’d say to keep plugging away. It’s a very competitive line of work and you really have to devote a lot of time to it with research, and connecting with others in the industry. Engage on social media and stay up to date on trending topics and never stop learning from others.

Also remember to keep trusting yourself and your talents and most importantly keep trusting in God’s plan for you and his timing.

3 thoughts on “Q&A with Amanda Pflugrad of Total College Sports”

  1. I’ve spoken to many cheerleaders and journalists (never one who was both), and they almost unanimously agree the work versus the reward is unbalanced. Just the Alabama cheerleaders alone that I’ve met often say this is their last year cheering because it’s too much to keep up with school and cheer. The journalists I know work crazy hours and get treated like celebrities because they’re on TV, but everyone assumes they’re rich.

    They’re not.

    So a cheerleader who never quit and a journalist working daily in college sports is some kind of champion. That’s a commitment you can trust. That’s passion, and passion is what I think we need more of in college sports reporting—–there are plenty of college sports journalists with cold vitreol and conspicuous allegiances, but it’s the rare Herbstreit who breaks through and can’t hide their passion for the sport and compassion for the athletes.

    I love stories like this. Work hard in what you love and you don’t have to step on everyone’s toes to be successful. Pflugrad is a champion.

    Side note—-it’s so hard to talk on-camera and look natural. Everyone thinks it’s easy, but staring at a lens is harder than you think (if someone speaking to you stared at you the way you’re supposed to stare at a camera lens you would think they were either coming on to you or about to stab you with a letter opener).

    1. Thanks for sharing your observations Conduit. I find myself looking forward to the comments more and more each day.

      One of the things that I appreciate, and I know I don’t say it enough is the community here. Even our friendly rivals who come here and stir up some interesting conversations. 🙂

  2. My word she is hot. My hat’s off to you Cappy for being able to focus long enough to do a real interview with her.

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