Helena alum gets Game Day Ready

Published 1:57 pm Wednesday, March 15, 2023

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By LAUREN SEXTON | Sports Reporter

AUBURN – The successful basketball spinoff of the iconic Saturday morning football show, “College GameDay,” is one of the most beloved sports commentary shows ever. With greats such as Jay Bilas, Seth Greenberg, LaPhonso Ellis and Rece Davis, it’s a sports fan’s dream to shadow them for a day. 

Aside from being Helena and Samford alumnus, a three-time NCAA All-American and Auburn track and field athlete, Justin Stuckey hosts his own sports podcast “Stuck in My Thoughts.” In his podcast, Stuckey has interviewed many of his fellow Auburn athletes on critical and crucial conversations surrounding the world of sports. Stuckey would have never imagined he would get the opportunity to interview the “College GameDay” hosts.

“I’m on a podcast,” Stuckey said. “That’s how I originally got started. I got connected with Jay Bilas, who has been on ESPN for years. I got connected with my friend on the basketball team, and he gave me a text that morning that he was going to do the show Friday morning. From there, it was like a really quick turnaround to get my stuff together. I ended up having the podcast that Friday. After that, he invited me to shadow and come along.”

Given the credentials of the acclaimed television show to go anywhere on the shoot he pleased, Stuckey’s opportunity to see what it was like to be a part of the show is what some people can only dream of.

“Those are guys who’ve been in the media and in the broadcasting world for a while,” Stuckey said about shadowing the show’s hosts. “It’s pretty cool seeing them on TV and then being in the same space with them.”

After having had the pleasure of talking to the hosts about important topics, Stuckey soon experienced the process the iconic ESPN show goes through during a live taping of the show during a regular season game.

“I got there at 8 in the morning,” Stuckey said. “They took us over there and had these cars, which is pretty cool. Rece Davis and I walked in together. They had students from all over already there. It was packed out, it was a fun experience. I was with the other essential workers who worked for game day, seeing how the operations went and how they were getting ready for each segment that happened. They were flipping scripts between commercial breaks and doing different things and they were talking about other games.”

Gaining this opportunity of a lifetime to shadow these ESPN giants only increased Stuckey’s aspirations to someday work for the network.

“I would definitely like to be an analyst,” Stuckey said about his career goals. “I’m really interested in ESPN because I’ve grown up watching ESPN my whole life. I want to be able to cover a lot of sports. I’m in college doing track and field, I’m just getting to know the depths to other sports, making myself more marketable and versatile. The opportunity was just one that you’re never really going to get unless you actually worked in that space. To have an opportunity where I was literally just with them, where there are no fans, not many people around, I can just actually have an actual conversation was what I needed.”

Having recently made a connection with Alabama alum, Reece Davis, Stuckey was able to learn from his fellow Alabamian. Even if Davis bled Crimson and Stuckey was a War Eagle.

“Being able to talk with him about what he knows as somebody who was on TV, getting views about news around the world, was a great experience for me. I’m grateful for every opportunity to develop my skills.”

Although Stuckey has gone on to do many incredible things since graduating from Helena, he credits a lot of his success to being raised in his hometown.

“There’s a foundation you find when you’re growing up in Helena,” Stuckey said. “Just hard work and being appreciative of every moment. Growing up, I was always told to take advantage of what you can, control what you can control and don’t be scared. If I didn’t ask to connect with Jay Billas, I would have never got that opportunity. If I didn’t ask those questions of all the guys that I met while I was there, I wouldn’t have learned any information. I’m proud of where I’m from. So, when I do make it big, I’m always going to always represent where I’m from.”

With all that Stuckey gained from his experience shadowing the ESPN show and engaging with the legendary hosts of the show, Stuckey continues to keep his faith in what he does and seize every opportunity that crosses his path so that he will be able to grow and learn from.

“I keep my faith at the center of what I do,” Stuckey said. “The experience was really something that I didn’t see coming. I would have never got this opportunity if I didn’t come to Auburn. You have to look at it from the perspective that everything works out for a reason.”

Stuckey’s podcast, “Stuck in my Thoughts” can be found on Spotify.