Liam McHugh spent most of February traveling across the country – and world.
McHugh, a sportscaster for NBC, recently covered both the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics for the network.
But now, McHugh, originally from Williston Park, is back home on Long Island.
With two children and one on the way, McHugh and his growing family recently moved to Garden City.
McHugh didn’t always see himself going into sportscasting, he said.
“I definitely was not one of those kids that sat by a TV with a tape recorder calling play by play,” McHugh said.
He added that despite the fact that he’s 5 feet 10 inches tall and “not that fast,” he thought he would be the one on the field.
As a Herricks student, McHugh said, he played soccer and basketball. He continued to play soccer a few years at the University of Buffalo where he got his undergraduate degree.
Journalism, though, was never too far from McHugh’s mind.
His father was an English teacher and his mother was a librarian at the Williston Park library, he said.
“I loved reading, I loved writing, I knew I wanted to be involved in something like that but I couldn’t put my finger on it,” McHugh said.
McHugh said he started to write for his school newspaper in college and went on to get a part-time job at Newsday writing about high school sports.
A few years in, McHugh said, he hit a point where he figured if he was ever going to give broadcasting a shot it was the time try.
He decided to go back to Syracuse University for his master’s degree.
After graduating, McHugh began in front of the camera in 2004 in Terre Haute, Indiana, as a sports anchor for WTHI-TV.
He went on to anchor for KOKH in Oklahoma City from 2007 to 2009.
“I think it’s one of those things if you look back now I’m in this position like it all fell into place and worked out,” McHugh said. “But it was one of those things where it was a difficult choice to go back into broadcasting.”
It wasn’t just the career pivot that was a leap out of his comfort zone, McHugh said – it was also the change of scenery.
He went from working and living where all his friends were, on Long Island or in the New York City area, and opted to leave that to give broadcasting a chance.
“It’s difficult to be in your early to mid-20s and decide you’re leaving,”McHugh said. “You’re going to go live somewhere you know nothing about.”
It was also a culture shock, moving from New York to a small town he wasn’t used to, he said.
Ultimately, McHugh said he thinks he’s better off because of his decision – one that didn’t just help his career but also helped shape his world view, he said.
“I have a little more perspective on the way people live in different parts of the country, and I love that,” McHugh said. “I think I benefited from that greatly.”
Now, McHugh’s job, which recently landed him a couple of weeks in South Korea, is expanding his horizons even more.
McHugh said he loved experiencing the different cultures at he Olympics.
“Olympics are kind of a special event and you get a feel for that when you’re broadcasting that,” McHugh said.
It also exposed to him to broadcasting for new sports, he said.
Like figure skating.
“I can say for the first time in my career I did a lot figure skating coverage, which is very different for me because it’s not really in my wheelhouse, but I loved it,” McHugh said. “And you also realize there are people that pretty much never watch sports but love figure skating.”
He said that despite being on the air for well over a decade there were people who had no idea he was doing this before they saw him covering the Olympics.
While McHugh has since found his niche, he remembers the uncertainty and doubt he faced along the way.
He said the most important thing for people who are unsure of what their future holds is to keep an open mind.
“I think I thought especially once you graduate or decide on a major that that’s it, you’re stuck and that is what you’re doing,” McHugh said. “And it’s certainly not the case, and I think that’s difficult because people immediately have success out of college and it can feel like you’re struggling. But you can always make a change.”