GSMP 2015 Site Visits: Carla Bustamante at ESPN

By Brian Canever September 30, 2015

Pulling into the parking lot of ESPN headquarters in Bristol, it seems a lot has changed on campus since last year’s U.S. Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program. The revamped security entrance, studio buildings, and redesigned ESPN Café sparkle with newness as we walk past on our way to meet with emerging leader Carla Bustamante and her mentor Marina Escobar.

Unlike much of what we see around us, the relationship between Carla, public relations director for Naranjeros de Hermosillo baseball club, and Marina, VP of visual technology for ESPN, seems anything but new.

As the two women sit down across from one another, preparing to be interviewed by Drs. Sarah Hillyer and Ashleigh Huffman of the University of Tennessee’s Center for Sport, Peace, & Society, they joke in Spanglish and retell stories of their first days together.

“I can’t believe some of the struggles and challenges that Carla has faced, and how she doesn’t stop,” Marina says. “Already, I feel like she is my daughter; a friend for life.”

“Thank you,” Carla responds in a breath. “But, I feel like I wasn’t strong until I got here. Watching you every day makes me feel stronger.”

During our 30-minute interview, the back-and-forth exchange of respect between mentor and emerging leader is constant and natural. Marina and Carla address each other directly the entire time, and it often feels like they are the only two people in the room.

“Marina is a strong Latina woman who understands Latin American issues,” Carla says. “She knows exactly where I am coming from.”

Back in Hermosillo, like much of Mexico, there is a notable lack of women in the sports industry; especially in roles that require more than just “looking pretty in front of the camera,” as Carla says. In an effort to change that at the ground level, Carla recently began teaching a creative marketing course, in addition to her role managing all of Naranjeros’ marketing and digital media efforts. She hopes the new venture will allow her to mentor young women with dreams of careers in sport who might otherwise get swallowed up by the chauvinistic culture in the community.

“Look, I have no problem taking care of the children, taking care of the food, doing the dishes and the laundry,” Carla says. “I can do that. But, also I want to have a job. And I want to be a part of sports, because I know and I love baseball. And I want to use my voice.”

Marina nods as she listens to Carla. In her 28 years in the industry, she has never had a mentor, and had to rely on the support of her mother and her gut instincts to persevere. Now, she has the opportunity to be a mentor to a younger version of herself, not only for the next two weeks, but for a lifetime.

As the interview comes to a close, she leaves Carla with this advice:

“Nothing is off limits. Look where you are today. You are strong, and you have been strong for a very long time, or else you wouldn’t be here.”

Listen to the Center’s podcast conversation with Carla and Marina at the link below