Published Apr 1, 2011 8:00 AM
"Just do it" certainly applies to Nike Field Reporter Gevrina "Gevvy" Seferaj '11. The 23-year-old California native came to Westwood intending to make her mark with the UCLA women's rowing team en route to med school. But now, four years later, the erstwhile biochemistry major travels the U.S. interviewing the world's greatest athletes as a roving correspondent for NikeWomen and ESPN's new online women's brand, espnW.
Q: How did you end up working with Nike?
A: During my junior year, I was interning for the vice president of CBS Radio, who told me about a contest Nike was throwing to find a Nike Field Reporter (NFR). With the help of a friend, I made a video and submitted it. I made it to the top 10 in the competition, but didn't advance from there. Then, Nike offered me the opportunity to be one of 30 correspondents for their blog.
Q: How did you go from correspondent to Nike Field Reporter?
A: When the search for the fourth Nike Field Reporter came around [each young woman chosen signs a one-year contract], I wasn't sure I should reapply. A lot of things held me back, including that the number of applicants had grown. I felt challenged to impress Nike and say, "I know I write for you, but pick me, not all these thousands of other applicants who are new and fresh." I got fired up and made a new video with the theme that I was going to step it up and show Nike I was the right girl for the job. Slowly but surely, I made the different cuts. Winning was honestly a blessing and I can't even believe it's real at times.
Gevvy's in the Hot Seat
Ace interviewer Gevvy Seferaj meets the other side of the mic, questions courtesy of UCLA Magazine's Bekah Wright.
Q: How did you get the news you'd won?
A: A phone call. I remember the girl on the phone said to me, "Your life changes now. Enjoy it." I ran outside and hugged the first person I saw on the street.
Q: What's your role as NFR?
A: I travel around the country interviewing celebrities, trainers and professional athletes. Aside from making those videos, there's a lot of writing, research, blogging, tweeting, updating Facebook and building up a fan base. Another responsibility of mine is writing articles for ESPN's new website on sports for women, espnW.
Q: You've interviewed everyone from Billie Jean King to Sarah Reinertsen. Which interview has stood out the most?
A: If I had to pick one, it would probably be [champion boxer and Filipino politician] Manny Pacquiao. I couldn't believe he was signing laws with other congressional leaders and letting us interview him at 11 p.m. when he had a fight the next day.
Q: Most fun interview?
A: Interviewing professional Nike-sponsored athletes that were UCLA alum athletes, like softball player Andrea Duran '07. During our interview, we did the UCLA eight-clap. I was like, "Bruin to Bruin!," and we were high-fiving each other.
Q: What has been your most inspiring assignment?
A: Hosting the 2010 Nike Women's Marathon to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It really made an impact on me. There were 20,000 women running the race. I got goose bumps thinking about how they were making a difference. I felt honored to be a part of that.
Q: Speaking of marathons, do you ever get into the action along with the athletes?
A: Nike started this new concept called "Gevvy versus Gym." Through it, I try gnarly workouts all over the country with different trainers. Usually, I'm out of breath and just want to fall to the ground and take a breather, but instead, I have to move on to another interview.
Q: Which "Gevvy versus Gym" has been the most challenging?
A: The workout designed for me by Nike Trainer Marie Purvis. I was lifting an 80-pound tire and had to flip it, squat, flip it, squat, for several rounds. I couldn't even lift it.
Q: Initially, your sights were set on medical school. Why the shift to media?
A: When I was in third grade, I used to do voice commercials. At UCLA, I did UCLAradio for fun. A fellow student suggested I take broadcasting classes at Santa Monica College on the side. Despite being a student athlete and undertaking my curriculum at UCLA, I took his advice. I fell in love with my classes at Santa Monica College and approached my professor, Lou Riggs, and said, "I want to educate my voice." He's been personally training me ever since. Going through this process, I knew I was in the wrong major.
Hit the road with espnW.
Get the latest on UCLA women's rowing.
Q: What major did you eventually declare at UCLA?
A: Michael Sondheimer '77, UCLA's associate athletic director and the executive producer of Bruin Talk, said, "In this business, if you can write, you've got an in." I said to myself, "English. That's what I'm going to major in." My junior year, the Film and Television minor became available and fit perfectly. It was a huge shift, but I'm so glad I did it.
Q: On campus, you've worked with UCLAradio, Res-TV, Bruin Talk and UCLA Daily Bruin TV. Where else did you gain experience?
A: Internships. My first was with MTV News, then NBC Sports. From there, I went on to CBS Radio. After that, I wanted to know how media worked from a different angle by doing public relations for a professional basketball team, so I interned with the Los Angeles Clippers and with the NBA Communications Department my senior year.
Q: Do you feel your time at UCLA has helped in terms of being an NFR?
A: I think everyone has contributed — God has blessed me with so much, and my parents built a platform that allowed me to succeed. I think a good education is really important, but a great education is something completely different. UCLA taught me to be excellent.