Fall camps can often be long, grueling and certainly intense times for teams while they bond together while preparing for the upcoming season. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart had former UGA student-athlete and current NBC Sports broadcaster Maria Taylor come back to talk with the team about media training on August 11.
With new NIL laws in place, it’ll be as important as ever for players to be able to represent themselves well off the field. Many players such as Georgia senior cornerback Ameer Speed enjoyed their guest speaker and took away some valuable insight from one of the most famous faces on television.
“She’s a really good person,” said Speed. “For me, I have a habit sometimes of maybe talking too fast or maybe moving a little bit too much but she definitely was there to help us all. Media training is very important and how you present yourself and how you talk to people can take you a far way. So having that there for us to help us as a team was very resourceful.”
Smart said that the program likes to bring in a plethora of speakers to cover different topics that are not just about football. And with as many hours as the team has recently spent together, he thinks a breath of fresh air might connect with the players.
“They certainly like hearing guest speakers more than me, and especially Maria Taylor,” said Smart. “Maria came in and she did a tremendous job. She represents her university in so many positive ways. She’s able to draw on her experiences, she’s just a tremendous ambassador for Georgia. I know they loved it, they got a lot of small group time and then they got some team time.”
It is hard not to get excited for Maria Taylor who gladly showed her Georgia pride even when she was on ESPN’s “College Gameday.” In May, she gave the graduating commencement speech for the class of 2021. There were not many dry eyes in Samford Stadium after she delivered her remarks.
As tough as virtual interviews are for media members, they can be tough for players as well. Zoom leaves little room for rapport and fun follow-up questions that you normally get to ask players. At times, it now feels like a cut-and-dry question-and-answer format.
With more and more endorsements coming into college athletics, fans and teams can expect to see more of these media training sessions as there are now ways for players to represent themselves outside of the university’s control.