Jamie Erdahl remembers telling her mom a little over four years ago that she hoped to work for CBS someday because she “wanted to cover the NCAA tournament so badly.”
What seemed at the time like a distant dream will become a reality this week. Erdahl, 26, a Twin Cities native who grew up in Bloomington and graduated from Breck School in 2007, is slated to work as a sideline reporter at this year’s tournament. She has four games on her docket Thursday from Jacksonville, Fla. — two on TBS and two on TNT.
Three years ago, she was working high school basketball games locally for the suburban cable Channel 12. A stint at NESN in Boston started her on a rapid rise, and less than a year ago she began working for CBS Sports, which along with Turner Sports has broadcast rights to the tournament through 2024.
“When the opportunity to work here came up I was thrilled, but they didn’t make any promises [about the NCAA tournament],” Erdahl said Tuesday. “But all the chips fell into place. Things just went well, and they saw my passion for basketball, and I couldn’t be happier.”
She’ll see a familiar face Thursday when No. 13 seed Harvard plays No. 4 North Carolina. Crimson guard Siyani Chambers played for Hopkins and was “my second high school basketball interview,” Erdahl said.
Really, though, her path started earlier than that.
“Was I 10 years old holding a microphone? No, I wasn’t that,” Erdahl said with a laugh, quickly noting that in high school she used to try to skip class to talk sports with her athletic director and that she “bugged Michele Tafoya” nonstop during an internship opportunity.
She even gave up playing sports — Erdahl was on the basketball and softball teams in college at St. Olaf in Northfield — to transfer to American University in Washington D.C., where she figured she would have more broadcast opportunities. Doing sideline work, though, she leans on her basketball background.
“It’s knowing in-game situations — what I would have done or what one of my coaches would have done,” Erdahl said.
“Conversations with coaches are so much smoother because they can sense you know the sport and then they feel much more comfortable talking about it.”
Eventually, Erdahl said, she might like to transfer that knowledge into a studio setting instead of the sidelines. For now, though, she’s exactly where she wants to be. “I’m on cloud nine right now,” Erdahl said.