NBC Sports producer brings hometown feel to the Windy City

By on January 9, 2019

“Sports TV is 24/7. It’s fast moving,” said Sarah Lauch, NBC Sports Chicago executive producer of original content.

An 18-year veteran of NBC Sports/Comcast Sports, Lauch is also a 1994 Manheim Central grad and a 1998 graduate of Kutztown University. She’s currently living in Chicago, a.k.a. The Windy City.

To Manheim Central Barons fans, Chicago is not just “The Windy City,” but it’s also the home of the Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy, a Manheim Central 1996 graduate. Nagy, a rookie coach, was named as the AP writer’s Head Coach of the Year for 2018 in December. Lauch said she’s done several pieces on her fellow MC alum including “Matt Nagy: The Coach,” “Matt Nagy: The Player,” and “Matt Nagy: The Son.”

Lauch said she knew Nagy at Manheim Central. His wife Stacey was also in her class, and they were all friends.

“It’s been insane to know the Bears head coach,” she said. “Before he even stepped onto the field, I tweeted ‘If the rumors are true, Bears fans will love Nagy.’ He cares and appreciates where he came from and how that shaped his career. He’s also genuine. When it was announced that he was the new head coach of the Bears, he had 900 text messages, and he answered every one — that’s who he is.”

Lauch said that the note he has on his game day play card which reads “Be You” is also indicative of Nagy’s personal touch. As part of the most recent pieces she did about Nagy, she came back to Manheim to interview people such as his mom, Gail Stouch; friend, Jason Hondru; and former Manheim Central Barons head coach, Mike Williams. One interesting tidbit from one of the pieces — Stouch’s father was the captain of Manheim Central’s first football team.

She also visited Manheim Central High School.

Manheim Central graduate Sarah Lauch with just a few of her Emmy Awards. (Submitted photos)

“It was so amazing to reminisce,” Lauch said. “I had not been back to my high school and Manheim for a very long time. Instantly all your memories flood back. It is odd, when you move away you get detached from the community, but when you come back, everything is pretty much the same, which is truly comforting.”

Lauch majored in telecommunications, public relations and journalism at Kutztown. An internship at Comcast SportsNet in Philadelphia during her senior year launched her career in broadcast journalism.

“I decided to go the sports route because I didn’t want to cover murders and such. For the most part my job is fun,” she told a class at the Illinois Center for Broadcasting, Chicago in February 2014.

During her four years at Comcast in Philadelphia, she earned the first of 14 Emmy Awards for an obituary feature on basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain, who had played for the Philadelphia 76ers.

“The highlight of my career so far was that first Emmy. I was young, so having a huge milestone in my career that early on was inspiring and made me work even harder,” she said. “But it’s not about the trophies, it’s about the people. And at NBC Sports, we do stories the ‘right way’; we’re accurate and objective. We don’t try to hurt anyone.”

Another highlight from her career is a story she did in 2015 with Chicago Cubs manager, Joe Maddon.

“I spent a week with him in his hometown of Hazelton. Hazelton reminded me of Manheim where I grew up,” she recalled, “Joe treated us like family. It was refreshing to know that a guy in a huge spotlight remembered his roots and was a class act. We sat at a diner that his mom has worked at for many years, and it was straight out of the 50s. We had lunch with him and it was kind of surreal. Nothing in the diner changed for many years and here was a manager of arguably the most popular baseball franchise having a hoagie with us.”

That interview was in December 2015. In November 2016, the Cubs ended a 108-year wait to win the World Series.

“I thought Chicago would explode when the Cubs won,” she said. “It was all so crazy, but everyone kept their cool and was civil. I remember we were on the air covering the celebration for over three hours.”

Live Like Roo

Lauch is also a volunteer at a Chicago-area animal shelter. Through her efforts there, she founded Live Like Roo, a 501(c)(3) foundation that supports dogs and their owners through a cancer diagnosis by providing financial and emotional assistance. She said it’s named after Roosevelt, who was rescued from Chicago Animal Care and Control in April 2015.

“I saw him in his crate. He was sitting quietly and looked so sad — a contrast to all the other dogs, who were jumping and barking to get my attention,” Lauch recalls. “His teeth were totally ground down. His owner surrender card said ‘has issues urinating,’ and I found that was definitely the case. We isolated him in case he had the flu and he did improve,” she explained. “Unfortunately even after neutering his problems with urination remained, and during dental and tooth removal, the vet found he had bone cancer.”

When Roo was diagnosed with cancer, Lauch and other volunteers started a bucket list for him.

“A number of organizations and individuals stepped up to help fill that bucket list,” she said. “Roo passed away later that year, but the foundation is a way to carry on his legacy.”

Lauch with “Roo,” the canine that inspired her to launch Live Like
Roo, a 501(c)(3) foundation that supports dogs and their owners
through a cancer diagnosis by providing financial and emotional assistance.

Live Like Roo sends cancer care packages to every pet that applies. She said the packages contain some of Roo’s favorite items, including a blanket, ball, and other toys, treats, a collar, and a McDonald’s gift card.

“The dogs and people that receive these packages love them,” she said. “It lifts their spirits.”

The foundation also provides dogs and their families with financial assistance (up to $500 per animal) after review of their application. In 2018 Live Like Roo provided 1,100 care packages to pets and their families and $300,000 in financial assistance to help cover medical bills for pets diagnosed with cancer.

“I love my job and my charity work,” Lauch said, adding that she’s married with no kids and four dogs.

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at RAASHENK@aol.com.

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