Cherry Hill East graduate Max McGee will start his first day as a sports anchor on ESPN’s SportsCenter come Jan. 31.
After three years of covering Baltimore and Maryland sports for WJZ-TV, McGee’s new position will involve reviewing game highlights, conducting live interviews with athletes, analyzing previous games and looking ahead to others.
Throughout the years, McGee has recalled people and experiences in Cherry Hill that have helped shape his journey and prepare him for this point. A graduate of Cherry Hill East, McGee gained his first broadcast experience on an educational access sports debate show.
It was an idea encouraged by the late East softball coach Charlie Musumeci.
“I remember him coming up to me after school,” McGee remembered. “He said, ‘You’d probably be really good on camera. I know you talk sports. Why don’t you give this a shot?’
“He really started something,” McGee added. “He saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.”
After graduation in 2008, McGee struggled for a bit. He was recovering from a concussion he got when he attended Camden County College for communications and played baseball while working long hours at the township’s Famous Dave’s Barbecue, now Crab du Jour.
He dreamed of playing baseball as a career, but was cut by his team and took a year off.
“I was feeling sorry for myself,” McGee acknowledged. “I didn’t try in school to be honest with you, and I wound up dropping out after maybe a year or two and I had really bad grades.”
He continued to work at the restaurant until his mother asked him if he was ready to go back to school. The answer was an enthusiastic yes.
“Even though I was behind all my peers, (and) I did not graduate on time, I needed to go at my own pace and move on from that baseball dream,” McGee explained. “But I knew that it was just another chapter.
“I realized it wasn’t over,” he added. “It was just a different chapter … because I realized I would be able to talk about sports for a living, instead of playing them. And that was awesome.”
McGee started slowly with one class a semester and worked his way up to three until he graduated from Camden County College in 2012, four years after he had started a two-year program.
From there, he went on to study journalism at Temple University in Philadelphia, where he joined All Sports Update, a student run program on Temple TV, and gained broadcast experience through WHIP radio.
While McGee’s goal had been to become a sports reporter, it didn’t happen right off the bat. After 14 months of searching for a reporter job, he landed a job in Lake Charles, Louisiana, as a news reporter and producer at KPLC-TV.
“I didn’t intend to be a news reporter, but looking back on it, it was probably the best thing that ever happened in my career,” McGee noted.
His advice for kids who might want to be sports anchors one day is to stop worrying about which school to attend or what subject to major in, get on camera as much as possible and practice ad-libbing.
“It was an entire journey,” McGee said, “and I owe this big-time accomplishment of getting to ESPN to all the people who helped me get there.