Follow the Pac-12 to Rio: Soccer
SAN FRANCISCO (August 3, 2016) - It’s time to follow the Pac-12 to Rio! Leading into the 2016 Olympic Games, Pac-12 Networks Insider will profile its on-air talent with Olympic ties. Whether they’re broadcasters, competitors or have accomplished both feats, we have you covered.
This week, Pac-12 Networks Insider features soccer analysts and Olympians Aly Wagner and Cobi Jones.
Aly Wagner, a two-time U.S. Olympic women’s soccer gold medalist, kicked off the first camp of her professional career by rooming with Mia Hamm. No pressure.
“I was so in awe,” Wagner said. “When you get on the field, your intuition takes over and you forget the scope of what you’re doing because it’s training. Occasionally, when Mia Hamm or Julie Foudy would yell at me, is when you go, ‘Oh yeah, I better do that.’ The last thing you want to do is disappoint these women you have looked up to. You get that little bit of a holy cow moment.”
Both Wagner and Cobi Jones, two soccer analysts for Pac-12 Networks, had some pretty surreal memories leading up to their Olympic experiences.
Jones, a UCLA alum who played in the 1992 Barcelona games, started to get excited for the Olympic process after his team qualified to compete.
“The one big difference between the Olympics and the World Cup is the multitude of athletes from all over the world competing,” Jones said. “You’re in a village in one city, for the most part, living together. It’s great to be surrounded by people who are at the top of their game. They’re ready and prepared to compete. There’s nothing quite like it around the world."
One of the most memorable moments from Jones’ Olympic experience came from the 1992 Opening Ceremonies.
“I could remember as we all were lined up and getting ready to go out, they split our team in half and then put in the Dream Team behind us,” Jones said. “That was cool to have them behind us after what was being talked about at the time.”
Wagner, a member of the 2004 and 2008 Olympic teams, also recalled the major difference between being a soccer player compared to the rest of the athletes competing in the Olympics.
“While I don't want to take anything away from it, you don't get the same experience because your tournament starts before the Olympics even have Opening Ceremonies,” Wagner said. “You also don't stay in the Olympic Village until you hit the later rounds. What stands out is that moment when you finally get to the Olympic Village during the knockout round phase, and that’s when the energy changes.”
Jones added to Wagner's sentiment, saying the last month out is when it settles in that you’ll be representing your country
“It’s one of those things where you have that long qualifying process in soccer, so it’s a slow, methodical buildup going through that process and trying to make sure that you’re going to be one of the teams that qualifies to represent the region,” Jones said.
Coming off of broadcasting the Copa America tournament with FOX, this will be Wagner’s first time doing Olympic coverage as a broadcaster. Wagner will host a pregame and postgame show on SiriusXM to give fans coverage for all the U.S. women’s team games, in addition to the men’s semifinal and final games.
“I’m familiar with a lot of the teams from the World Cup,” Wagner said. “I’ll prepare the way I do for studio, and that for me is looking at their tactics and strategize how they will approach the game. Figure out what their strengths and weaknesses are and if they did that. It’ll be fun!”
Check back Thursday for a feature on Pac-12 Networks broadcasters JB Long, Jason Knapp and Ted Robinson.