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August 30, 2023

By Rebecca Mohr, Capital University Communications Manager

Capturing Messi's U.S. Debut: On the Sidelines with Sports Journalist Katie Witham '06

While all eyes were on the pitch for Lionel Messi’s U.S. debut in Miami, Katie Witham ’06, an Emmy and Telly Award winner, was on the sidelines reporting on the unforgettable action, including Messi’s free-kick goal made during extra time. After the win, Witham interviewed the international icon and newest Major League Soccer star. Witham is currently contracted to cover every game Messi plays when it’s broadcasted by Apple TV.

“For me being both a soccer fan as well as a journalist, I’m just so proud and honored that he chose to come to the U.S., to really elevate our sport, and just try to leave it in a better place than he found it,” said Witham. “I think that Messi is not only a great soccer player, but you can tell he’s a great human. I think there’s no better example for young people anywhere, whether you’re a soccer fan or not.”

In the days leading up to the game, the city felt electric. Hundreds of fans were lined up around the stadium, and the media was desperate for a glimpse of the closed practices.

“I can tell you from an insider perspective that he was on the ground, but his contract wasn’t signed, and we were only a few days away from the first game. The anticipation had been building,” said Witham.

From covering David Beckham’s first game with LA Galaxy to being a part of the first all-female broadcast among the five professional sports leagues in the U.S., Witham has had the opportunity to be a part of some extraordinary events in sports history as a sports journalist. She recalls getting the phone call to cover Messi’s debut as a defining career moment.

“I remember when we were all waiting for Messi to come out. He waited until the anthem, which was the sneakiest moment that he could have chosen. When the stadium realized he was there, I got goosebumps. The cheer, the roar, the recognition – it was the love for him choosing to come here over anywhere else, he is just so universally loved,” said Witham. “If I had to describe what it was like using only one word, it would be surreal, on every level. The interview was a short one, but I just remember at the time just being proud that I could have a moment like that.”

When Witham chose Capital, she knew her path would lead to broadcast journalism, but she “wanted to be in hard news; I wanted to be Diane Sawyer or Katie Couric.” Through internships, faculty mentorship, and four years on the varsity soccer team, she found her way to sports journalism.

“I never expected when I stepped on campus that first day at Capital that one day, I’d be interviewing Lionel Messi,” said Witham. “I wanted to tell somebody’s story. I wanted to shine a light on things that were good.”

After an internship with a Columbus network, Witham realized that hard news wasn’t for her. Her soccer coach encouraged her to intern with the Columbus Crew over the summer, a decision that forever changed the trajectory of her career.

“At the time, I think Jenn Brown and Erin Andrews were really the only women working in sports on the sideline,” said Witham. “I guess I’d like to say that I was at the right spot at the right time. Along the way, people saw something in me, and I worked my tail off to try to climb the ladder.”

Through hard work and talent, Witham has been able to hone her craft and work in many different areas of television, including covering every sport in essentially every league, with the exception of the NBA.

“I’ve done a lot of cool things, but I owe it all to just being surrounded by really great people early on in life that pointed me in the right direction, supported me, and helped me think outside of the box,” said Witham. “I’m just really proud to be a Cap alum.”

Learn more about Media at Capital.

To learn more about Katie Witham, visit