Michele Tafoya has always been the best of the best.
Her career has spanned decades. She’s covered the Olympics, worked for every major network and made history in 1996 when she became the first woman to call TV play-by-play of an NCAA tournament game.
But Thursday night, as the Texans face the Chiefs on NBC, the sideline reporter will have to adapt to COVID-19 protocols. Tafoya talked with KPRC 2 earlier this week about the challenges during such a strange time.
Vanessa Richardson: Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth will have to adapt, but you’ll have to adapt the most. How will your duties change and what will look different?
Michele Tafoya: Things are going to look really different. The fact that I can’t be on the field is still kind of startling to me, and this notion of showing up at a stadium for a game and not walking right onto the field is so foreign to me. But I’ve just thought about this as we’re going to embrace this. We’re going to make the most of this challenge and see what we can do with it and get creative. Overcome the hurdles somehow and make an opportunity out of it. But it is going to be strange and whether there are 15,000 people in the stands or none. It’s just going to be a very different experience. For the first time, I’m taking binoculars on the road because I’m going to be needing them.
Richardson: How has it changed the way you prepare?
Tafoya: So far I’m preparing sort of the same way. On game day night, I usually love to go down to the field and talk to people, talk to coaches, talk to kickers, talk to whomever I can talk to. That interaction is so important, especially right before a game. You can break news that way, or even just break a small story when you’re able to be down there and someone suddenly tells you ‘My wife just had a baby’ or whatever it happens to be. So taking that away.. it’s going to be strange. We’re going to have to adapt at halftime talking to the coaches. We have multiple ways we can do that. We’re going to have to adapt with post-game interviews. We have multiple ways we can do that. And I think it’s just going to change week to week to week.
Richardson: Heading into this fluid situation, what conversations were you having with producers and fellow members of the broadcast about making this work.