Penn State alumnus among 10 finalists in ESPN reality show 'Dream Job'

September 07, 2004

University Park, Pa. -- A little bit of fate and a lot of hard work, talent and support has worked well for Jason Ashworth so far. As a result, he's just a few weeks away from his dream -- a fulltime job at ESPN.

Ashworth, a 2003 Penn State graduate with a degree in telecommunications, earned a spot as one of 10 finalists for the second season of ESPN's reality show, "Dream Job."

Starting Sept. 14, contestants began auditioning and competing during a series of weekly telecasts. The eventual winner earns a one-year contract as an anchor for the network's flagship program, "SportsCenter."

"Sports has always been my passion, and I've always had a passion for media," Ashworth says. "I'm a big Philadelphia sports fan, I got that from my father, and things just sort of grew in me through the years. Being involved in the sports industry is just such a wonderful opportunity, and a job as a 'SportsCenter' anchor is at the top of anything in the field."

Ashworth spent this past summer as the emcee for "Hoop it Up," a touring 3-on-3 basketball tournament that crisscrossed the country. That amounts to an entry-level spot in the sports-media industry, and he was happy to have the start-knowing that progress toward his eventual dream of working at ESPN probably would require stops at smaller television markets and stations over a period of several years as preparation.

Sill, some good timing and support from family and friends made a shot at the second season of "Dream Job" a realistic opportunity.

Because of commitments for the touring basketball tournament, Ashworth missed some initial "Dream Job" screenings near his New Freedom, Pa., home. Luckily, though, ESPN was conducting a screening in Chicago when the "Hoop it Up" tour visited the Windy City.

He survived the cut from that tryout and advanced to another round in New York City. Again, fatefully, his required test dates in New York coincided with a week when his mother was on a business trip to the city. So, he had a hotel room in place and a familiar face for support.

"Everything along the way just worked out," Ashworth says. "But there was the wait at the end."

Initially told he would find out if he was a finalist by Aug. 1, Ashworth anxiously waited for an answer. The first of the month came and went. So did two more days. Four days into the month, he had prepared to move on minus a "Dream Job" opportunity.

On Aug. 5, though, the phone rang. It was ESPN.

"Then things got all worked up again," Ashworth says. "It's exciting and there's some pressure. Plus, the more people that find out about it and encourage me, the more that just adds a little more pressure. You want to make those people proud.

"I need to represent myself, but I do need to represent Penn State. You don't want to let anyone down, and Penn State has helped me so much and prepared me for this really well."

As an undergraduate at Penn State, Ashworth served as co-host for "In the Game," a televised sports talk show produced at the College of Communications' studios at Innovation Park. He also worked at WKPS-FM and parlayed opportunities created when national sports networks visited campus into additional jobs, full-time internships and valuable contacts.

Specifically, after working as a game-day assistant for ABC Sports during football season, Ashworth earned the chance to work at other events. He met people such as play-by-play man Brent Musberger and completed an internship for Fox Sports' "Best Damn Sports Show Period."

Through some heady times, he remained focused-thanks in large part to his family. He credits his mother (Carol), father (Jay) and two sisters (Jenelle and Joanna) for much of his personal approach to life.

"My mom is everything to me and my sisters are my best friends," Ashworth says. "My relationship with my dad is priceless. He gave me the feet underneath my legs and something to stand for."

Although he started his college career at West Chester University, Ashworth decided to transfer after his first visit to Penn State. He came to campus to meet his girlfriend, but fell in love when he drove by Beaver Stadium.

"That's when I realized my passion for sports would only be met on a campus where there were big-time sports," he says. "I knew I had to be here."

Through Ashworth's practical experience and the Center for Sports Journalism (notably a sports broadcasting class taught by Steve Jones), he honed his skills and anticipates the challenges that await as part of "Dream Job."

While he worries about exactly how to prepare and even preparing too much, those who know him expect him to do well.

"He has a great personality and carries himself with a swagger, even his announcing has a little bit of a swagger." Jones says. "My nickname for him in class was 'Philly Tude.' He's opinionated, but all good announcers are and their opinions are stronger because they're smart enough to base them in facts. He's smart. He excelled at talk show work and play-by-play work. He's the kind of person who listens, too. Then he uses information he learns to improve."

With Ashworth as a contestant in the show, Penn State continues is presence on the program for the second consecutive season. In the first season, former All-America linebacker LaVar Arrington, now a professional football player for the Washington Redskins, served as one of the judges for "Dream Job."

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009