Stacey Dales has got game. And she is definitely at her best when the camera is rolling and spotlight is shining brightest.
Only these days, Dales isn't wowing crowds with the wizardry of her no-look passes and slick three-point shooting " the way she did as an All-American at the University of Oklahoma and later the WNBA. Instead, she's earning rave reviews on the sidelines and in the studio, where her skills as an analyst recently earned her a new job with the NFL Network.
Dales may be best known in the TV world for her work as a college basketball analyst, but she showed versatility making a seamless transition to football sideline reporter for ESPN back in 2006. The Brockville, Ontario, native became one of the network's best and most popular personalities before a contract dispute ended her tenure at ESPN in November 2008.
While many believed it was just a matter of time before she landed another network gig in basketball, her other favorite sport came calling first.
"I loved doing the sideline stuff for football because it was something different and a new challenge," Dales said. "It's easy to get typecast as someone who can only do one thing in this business, and getting the opportunity to branch out like that was great."
She's no stranger to football. She grew up in a sports-oriented family. These days, her brother Burke is a star punter for the Calgary Stampeders.
"Football was a big part of our lives there, so it wasn't like the sport was something totally new to me. Plus, at Oklahoma, football is a way of life," said Dales, who retired from the WNBA in 2008 after playing five seasons with Washington Mystics and Chicago Sky.
So when the NFL Network announced last week that Dales would be co-host of its popular NFL GameDay Morning show, it should have come as no surprise. The show airs from 8 a.m. to noon Sundays during the season; her debut is this weekend.
"Stacey is a unique talent. She is a proven analyst and reporter, and she adds a different perspective to our broadcast team," said Eric Weinberger, executive producer for the network.
Based out of Chicago the last few years, Dales will make the weekly trek to the West Coast to do the show.
"I'm excited about this opportunity for a lot of reasons. It's going to require a lot of research and preparation, but that's part of the challenge I really enjoy," she said. "Jay C. Upchurch