South Jersey Native Max McGee’s Road to ESPN Anchor
Making it to the big leagues.
By Sydney Kerelo

Photo: ESPN

As a kid, Max McGee dreamed of knocking out grand slam home runs at Citizens Bank Park and catching fly balls in centerfield. To say he was a driven player is putting it lightly.

But then McGee suffered a career-ending injury in 2008, during his senior year on Cherry Hill East’s varsity baseball team, and everything changed. As McGee raced towards home plate, trying to score a run with an opposing player on his tail, he slid forward and smacked his chin hard against the plate. “I didn’t really feel it at the time but 10-15 minutes later, I noticed that something was wrong,” he says. “I had nausea and dizziness and was diagnosed with a concussion later that night.”

The incident triggered an existential crisis, he says, noting that – up to that point – it didn’t even occur to him to have a back-up to his plan of going pro. Looking back, he now thinks of the injury as a blessing in disguise. It set him on the path that took McGee to ESPN, where he started in January as a SportsCenter anchor – working in Bristol, Conn., alongside broadcast journalists he’s admired his whole life.

“My coordination wasn’t really the same. I had sensitivity to light, and those were things I had to work through,” says McGee. “I was dead set on becoming a professional, and that day put those dreams to bed.”

After the accident, McGee was left fumbling. Academics were never his strong suit – he admits he didn’t exactly take them seriously. That is until an East teacher introduced him to the school’s sports debate show.

The late Charles Musumeci, one of his baseball coaches, encouraged McGee to check out the program on East’s educational access channel. “He said to me, ‘Look I think you have potential to make this into something, and I think you can take this really far,’” says McGee.

McGee soon discovered that talking about sports was the next best thing to playing. A seed was planted, but he didn’t realize it at the time. After high school, McGee took time off from school until his mother pushed him to enroll in Camden County College. He took one course at a time and eventually raised his GPA enough to enroll full-time at Temple University, where he graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism.

But then he hit another roadblock.

For 14 months, McGee worked at The Capital Grille in Cherry Hill, applying to more than 250 TV stations before landing his first gig as a TV reporter in Lake Charles, LA – somewhere he never imagined living. He threw himself into the job and was rewarded with a chance to be a TV anchor in Myrtle Beach, S.C. for a larger audience. After a few years he left the deep South for Baltimore, where he landed a job as a news and sports anchor/reporter.

On a whim last year he reached out to a few ESPN executives via LinkedIn. “I just said, ‘Is there any way that you guys are holding auditions?’ I didn’t ask for a job. I just wanted an audition,” he says. A few months later, an executive got back to him with a chance to try out. From there, the rest is history.

Another one of his East baseball coaches, Erik Radbill, says he’s not surprised by his former player’s success. “While he was playing baseball for me back in high school, he was always so dedicated,” says Radbill, a special education teacher. “I remember a time during the season and during a tournament, he had his phone out in the dugout and was giving us updates on the NFL draft.”

“I don’t know if he was preparing for this day back then,” adds Radbill with a laugh, “but his love for sports is his zest for life.”

McGee says he’s grateful for the support he’s always felt in his hometown, especially when he was having trouble believing in himself. Getting inducted into East’s Hall of Fame in his senior year, he recalls, was a huge confidence booster. With his grades being so low, he never thought the school would want to honor him along with other accomplished students in the class of ‘08. But the written profile didn’t dwell on his athleticism. Rather it talked about his kind, caring nature and enthusiasm that set him apart, says Radbill.

“He was always a fantastic athlete, but an even better human being,” says Radbill. “The East Cougars family is abuzz for him and so proud of his accomplishments.”

McGee says although the dream was to play ball professionally, getting paid to talk about sports on ESPN’s premier show is hardly a consolation prize.

“When as a kid you are watching ‘SportsCenter’ before school starts every day, that’s all you’re really thinking about,” he says. “Getting here was a lot of hard work that paid off.”

April 2022
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