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York College Alumna Working for ESPN Wins Emmy

Samantha Nicodemo, ESPN winner and York College alumni

Samantha “Sam” Nicodemo ’15 was an associate producer on the award-winning team at ESPN. She credits York College of Pennsylvania for encouraging her to find and follow her passion.

It wasn’t glamorous. There was no sparkly dress, fancy dinner, or after-party, but that didn’t make the experience any less surreal for Samantha “Sam” Nicodemo ’15. She was at home with her boyfriend on a June evening in 2021, wearing pajama shorts and a gray York College of Pennsylvania sweatshirt, when she learned she’d won the Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Edited Sports Special for her work as an editor on an ESPN special.

Six years ago, if you would have told the then Professional Writing major this was where she’d be, she wouldn’t have believed you. “I would have never thought that this was where my life would be,” she says. “I never thought I’d be getting paid to do something that I genuinely love.”

Hard work, a love of learning, and the ability to be a successful team member got her to where she is. But she’s not slowing down now—her Emmy has only fueled her fire.

Forging her own path

Nicodemo came to York College wanting to be a screenwriter. Then she took a video production class, and everything changed. “I fell in love with editing,” she says. “After a while I was kind of like, this is my form of storytelling.”

Her professors encouraged her to follow her passion and create her own minor. “It was a very open experience,” she says. “Everyone really encouraged me to build the degree that I wanted—take the classes that I wanted to take.”

In the end, she graduated with a degree in Professional Writing and two minors, Film Studies and Video Production.

Her career took her to Las Vegas, but she soon returned to Harrisburg, where she worked at CBS 21. “I said, ‘I’m going to hone my craft here,’ ” she states.

Two years later, she landed a job at ESPN. Two years after that, she had an experience few people enjoy: Holding an Emmy with her name on it. “I really do owe it to York,” she says. “It changed my life in so many ways.”

Fix it in post

The Emmy-winning documentary, “SportsCenter Presents: 2020—Heroes, History and Hope,” looks back at the major events of 2020 and ahead to the future, all through the lens of sports. Nicodemo will be the first to tell you she was just one member of the 60-plus-person team named on the award who brought the special to life. “It was a huge team effort,” she says. “All of us worked hard on it.”

Many long days and late nights went into that win, but Nicodemo enjoys the work. “There’s that saying, ‘You can always fix it in post.’ I like being that person,” she says.

She loves the challenge of figuring out a problem brought to her by a producer. And even though she’s working in video, she still uses her writing skills. “Editing is so much like writing. You’re the last person who gets to touch something before it goes to air,” she says.

Just getting started

Nicodemo doesn’t think of York College as just the college she attended. “In many ways, it felt like the start of something much bigger for me,” she says. “It was a place for me to try, and fail, and try again.”

Just as she did while she was in school, Nicodemo continues to seize every opportunity to learn and grow and hone her craft. She was recently promoted to Lead Post-Production Editor at ESPN.

Today, her Emmy sits on a bookshelf in her house, but she doesn’t plan for it to be alone for long.  “Now that I have one,” she says, “I want more.”