Glastonbury High School junior Catherine Cuva chats with former UConn Husky and ESPN broadcaster Rebecca Lobo at a reception before the CT Forum's World of Sports panel discussion on Feb. 16. Photos by Steve Smith.
Glastonbury High School junior Catherine Cuva and former UConn basketball star Rebecca Lobo discussed the fact that both were above average in height at a relatively young age during the Connecticut Forum's February offering, which featured a discussion entitled "The World of Sports."
Featured panelists included Lobo, football analyst and former New England Patriot Tedy Bruschi, popular ESPN host of The Herd and SportsNation Colin Cowherd, and William Rhoden, highly-respected sports columnist for The New York Times. Linda Cohn, longtime sportscaster and ESPN anchor, moderated the discussion, which ranged from steroids to gender and race equality to the role of social networking in sports media.
Prior to the forum's main event, a press conference was held where student representatives from the CT Youth Forum played the role of reporters and asked questions of the celebrity panel. Students from several high schools, including Ellington, Glastonbury, Simsbury and RHAM took part.
Cuva asked about whether the panelists' celebrity status is something that others take advantage of. Rhoden replied by saying that journalists are often asked to spin things in ways they may not want to. “The media is very powerful,” he said, “So when people have their scandals and stuff, we get hit by a lot of PR people to try and spin stories – to try and get their story out there first. I don't know if I call that trying to take advantage, but everybody has an agenda.”
Another student asked Lobo about what or whom was her greatest inspiration growing up.
“My greatest inspiration were my parents,” Lobo said, adding that when she took tap-dance lessons as a child, she decided that she didn't like it after about half a dozen lessons, but was told that she had to see the class through to the recital, but then didn't have to sign up again. “They never cared whether or not I played sports, or what I did,” Lobo said. “If I started something, they made me see it through to completion.
Turning the tables, Bruschi asked the students about how they use social media, and the general consensus was that it is probably used too much among high-schoolers, but it is also simply the norm.
Lobo asked the students for advice on how to approach social media, as well as body image issues, with her children.
Skylar Ives, a RHAM student and member of the CT Forum's Board of Directors, said that Lobo should give her daughters an option of creating a Twitter account, for example. “But also remind them that it's not as good as everyone makes it out to be,” Ives said. “I know at my school, it's more harm than good. There are a lot of catty girls, and boys that don't really care, they just tweet about sports.”
Cuva added that she understood what Lobo's daughters, who are tall for their age, are going through. “I was this tall in fourth grade,” Cuva said. “Just keep reminding them that the boys are going to catch up, and just to be confident in themselves and being tall is a good thing.”
A student asked Cohn when she decided to become a sportscaster.
“What I really wanted to do was play in the National Hockey League,” she said. “I started out playing ice hockey when I was a girl, playing with guys, growing up. I always loved watching my favorite teams, especially with my dad. I realized how good that made me feel and enjoyed that roller-coaster ride as a fan. I never wanted to lose that as a grown-up and I thought, 'what could I do to keep that in my life, since I can't play pro?' I thought, 'why not be a sportscaster?' and if that didn't work out, I'll do PR in sports. It just turned out that ESPN was one of the stops along the way, and come July, I'll be there 20 years.”
Ellington High School senior Bryan Rider was able to meet Bruschi, who has been his idol and inspiration. “I'm such a big fan of his and always have been,” Rider said. “I always wanted to be a linebacker when I was younger, and watching him made me strive to do what I wanted to do.”
Rider was able to talk to Bruschi about the Ellington Knights' 10-0 season, and the player-turned-analyst congratulated him on being a part of his school's history.
“I thought it was very interesting,” Cuva said. “It was a really great opportunity to meet these people.” She added that the panel was more down-to-earth than she expected. “They're very easy to talk to,” she said. “Very relatable - very open and honest.”