By Jonathan Okanes
THE SANDERS FILE
FULL NAME: Summer Elisabeth Sanders
ALMA MATER: Stanford
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Two-time NCAA Swimmer of the Year. … Helped Stanford win 1992 national championship. … Won six medals at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, including two golds. … Long broadcasting career with all four major networks.
Summer Sanders became an American hero in 1992 when she won four medals – including two gold – at the Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. But she said that doesn’t come close to topping the greatest moment of her decorated swimming career.
That came a few months earlier, when she helped Stanford win the 1992 NCAA national championship.
It’s that kind of affinity for her days as an NCAA student-athlete that will translate into passion and enthusiasm as a Pac-12 Network broadcaster. Sanders was part of the initial trio of on-air talent hired by the network last week, along with former USC All-American football player Ronnie Lott and former Washington, Colorado and UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel.
“Most people think it would be my Olympic gold medals, but it was winning an NCAA championship as a team in 1992 at Stanford, by far,” Sanders said. “I don’t think I’m alone when I say that. When you’re apart of such an incredible university and conference, it stands out.”
In two years competing at Stanford, Sanders won six NCAA individual championships and four relay titles. She was the NCAA Swimmer of the Year in 1991 and 1992.
“I’m grateful and excited to see these student-athletes, these 12 awesome universities competing at their very best,” Sanders said. “I love the fact that we’ll get to know them. We’ll get to bring them to light. It’s a joy and a privilege.”
Sanders said being part of a new venture from the very beginning has stirred up her competitive juices again.
“This is a unique opportunity,” Sanders said. “I’m almost calling it an adventure. We are all still very competitive people. It’s so unique to be put in a position where you can feel that competitive drive again, to be part of a network at the very beginning, to help people see how wonderful it is and how much it has to offer. For that, I am grateful.”
Sanders still feels a strong connection to Stanford and the Pac-12. Current Stanford swim coach Lea Maurer was Sanders’ teammate on The Farm. Stanford football coach David Shaw was a classmate of Sanders’.
“We can still relate so well to the student-athlete,” Sanders said. “It’s a huge part of our life, the growth of our life. It’s very near and dear to our heart. The fact that we can still relate to what the student-athlete is going through, I think adds so much to what the network wants to bring to life.”
Sanders has a wealth of broadcasting experience. She has worked for all four of the major networks covering a variety of sports in a variety of roles. She will demonstrate that diversity for the Pac-12 Network, whether it be as a studio host, reporter or analyst.
“When I first heard such a thing as the Pac-12 Network, I reached out and wanted to be a part of it,” Sanders said. “For me, it’s coming home.”