Anyone who has spent five minutes, if that, with Stefanie Dolson understands that it's not exactly a perilous leap to suggest she's a five-tool threat to morph into a post-UConn media star: looks, humor, smarts, personality … and did we mention personality?
And now this offseason has merely reinforced it. Dolson parlayed a summer internship with SNY with her state television debut Tuesday, hosting the state's only Connecticut-centric television sports talk show, "Beyond The Beat" on CPTV Sports.
Stef Dolson hit a grand slam.
No, really. She's on her way. She could be the next Rebeeca Lobo. And that's the highest compliment.
Primer: "Beyond The Beat" is the brainchild of yours truly and Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant. We'd discussed a state sports talk show for years until the CPTV Sports folks were kind enough to provide a forum. And now every week, with the estimable assistance of host Joe Zone of Channel 3, we laugh and holler our way through 30 minutes from Geno's Fastbreak at Mohegan Sun.
We've been fortunate enough to take the show on the road, all the way to New Orleans, for a Final Four special. We've had Geno Auriemma, Mike Thibault, Anne Donovan, Paul Pasqualoni, T.J. Weist, Jim Penders, Mike Cavanaugh, Warde Manuel, Swin Cash, Joe D'Ambrosio, Scott Gray, UConn football players Byron Jones and Tim Boyle, a number of high school coaches and other media personalities as guests.
Not bad for the first year. And this week marked our one-year anniversary. Idea: guest host. Solution: Dolson, whose comedic repertoire fortifies her Twitter handle, "@bigmommaStef." The idea of the show, other than to showcase Dolson, was to have her ask us the questions.
"I was a little nervous because this was the first time I had every done anything like this," Dolson said after the taping, which was Tuesday at Gampel Pavilion. "I'd say it was somewhat similar to the first college game I ever played at UConn. There were a lot of people (at the game) and pressure. But when you are doing something like (taping) for the first time, something that is new to you, it is nerve-wracking."
Fun would be one way to describe the 30 minutes with her. Hilarious would be another. Stef Dolson was completely herself, not to mention a rock looking into the camera with no prompter and running the show like our own point guard.
We talked about a number of issues: how come everyone in the media mispronounces "Kaleena Mosqueda Lewis," whether it's hard to sit stoically at courtside during games and favorite moments and people to cover. Dolson was completely in charge.
We talked about her "bunny ears" episode with President Obama and her faux pas during last season's NCAA tournament when she took a violent tumble and uttered one of George Carlin's seven words you can't say on television into television cameras. We nearly enticed her into giving the bunny ears to Zone as he was doing a few teasers for the week.
This was where at least half of the old Red Smith line about sportswriters - he called us "underpaid and overprivileged" - applied. At least the overprivileged part. How fortunate, indeed, that we get to watch the subjects we cover grow up and into vibrant young adults. Stef Dolson arrived here as a funny, outgoing kid, no doubt. Now four years later, the whole package has been cultivated and is on display for all to see.
When sports fans see UConn represented this year - at least the ones who watch women's basketball - they'll see this funny, engaging young woman who is bound for a TV career.
Let's hope she remembers us little people when she's famous.
CPTV Sports, still a relatively new channel, broadcasts all the state high school football and basketball championship games as well as the Connecticut Sun and several other state sports events. But it might not have had a better day than Tuesday, when its face was the most outgoing UConn student-athlete of them all.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.