Sczech your sources: Volleyball athlete pursues career in media

Sophomore opposite hitter Allie Sczech (4) rises up for a kill during then-No. 21 Baylor volleyball’s conference match against then-No. 24 UCF on Oct. 22 in the Ferrell Center. Lilly Yablon | Photographer

By Jackson Posey | Sports Writer

Studies show that people hate hearing recordings of their own voice. It’s uncomfortable to be an outside observer to one’s own life.

But then, there sat Allie Sczech, No. 23 Baylor volleyball’s sophomore opposite hitter, cutting up her own highlight tapes in a workroom at the KWKT news station in Fox’s Waco affiliate.

“She was up for a preseason honor,” Eric Kelly, sports director at Fox 44, said. “I had her cut her own video, which was kind of a breaking-the-fourth-wall [moment], where she was cutting her own highlight video. But outside of that, it was pretty normal.”

Sczech interned at Fox 44 over the summer, and every day, she would hop from frying pan to fryer and back again, often hustling to work half an hour after practice ended. But as strange as her introduction to that side of the media world was, she said she quickly learned to love it.

“[Eric] was like, ‘OK, we’re going to start off with the basics, and you’re just going to edit your own clips,’” Sczech said. “And I was like, ‘This feels so weird that y’all have clips of me playing.’ … I’m like, ‘What?’ And then I’m editing my own work. It was really weird, but it was really fun just to kind of get that experience and start off just pretty basic.”

Sczech said she wasn’t always planning to go into the world of journalism — or even attend Baylor. When the Sugarland native made her first recruiting visit to Baylor in 2018, she said she only knew three things about the school.

“I knew it was in Texas, I knew it was great school and [I knew] it was a religious school,” Sczech said.

Sczech added that she was still looking up team highlight videos on the way to Waco, and by the time she left campus that afternoon, she was hooked.

“I didn’t know anything about Baylor,” Sczech said. “Came on a visit and completely was just like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is everything I’ve ever wanted.’ And I knew it was the right school because of, obviously, the religious aspect I really liked.

“At the end of my visit, Coach Mac [Ryan McGuyre] asked me to pray with him. But just ultimately, looking at the coaches, the players that were here at the time, the campus, the people — I just knew it checked off every box I had, but also boxes I didn’t even know I wanted.”

Ever since she was a child, Sczech said religion has played a “foundational” role in her life. Growing up in a Catholic home, she said she was constantly exposed to her parents’ faith — and now she’s growing in her own.

“I don’t know if it was TikToks that I saw or just the way I was exposed to people that were really faithful in Christ growing up, but yeah, I felt this pull from God to always grow in my faith,” Sczech said. “I’m typically a pretty anxious person, so I know when it comes to prayer, that’s one of the biggest places I have to pray for myself and ask for, like, ‘OK, God, give me peace of mind, help calm me down.’

“So I feel like it’s not only … getting me the opportunity to connect with the Lord in the morning but also calm myself down and make myself present in each and every moment.”

After her recruiting visit, Sczech said she felt a “pull from God” to commit to Baylor in 2018, just before her freshman year of high school. Four years and who-knows-how-many hours of watching ESPN later, she said she made another major decision: She wanted to be a broadcast journalist.

“I never knew that I wanted to go into broadcasting growing up until probably about my senior year of high school [when] I kind of got into it,” Sczech said. “Just saw commentators on TV [and] just kind of was like, ‘Oh, wow, I like talking to people. I like engaging in sports. And I feel like this would be a great career path to go down.’”

In her first year at Baylor, Sczech switched her major twice — from journalism to business and back again.

Head coach Ryan McGuyre said Sczech first jumped out at him at recruiting camps for being “tall, long, [having a] heavy arm and [being] full of joy,” noting that her confidence has really grown since then.

“I think her speed of learning is really strong and willing,” McGuyre said. “She has the drive. … [She’s] first in the gym and last to leave, and she’s working on her craft. And I think we’re still at the tip of the iceberg.”

That work ethic has paid off, as Sczech was named to the All-Big 12 Second Team and Rookie Team last year, catapulting her into a spot with Team USA and the gold medal U21 Women’s National Team. She and fellow sophomore setter Averi Carlson earned Preseason All-Conference nods entering this season, and Baylor earned the No. 3 spot in the Big 12 preseason poll despite not having any seniors on the roster.

Sczech’s success on the court has helped her build connections elsewhere. Aside from her work with KWKT, she took an online workshop with three-time Emmy Award winner Anne Marie Anderson, who does volleyball play-by-play commentary for ESPN and the Pac-12 Network. That connection, Sczech said, was “one of the biggest things” that helped her find her love and passion for broadcasting.

“She had seen me play, and so we kind of talked, and I talked to her about how I was interested in that field,” Sczech said. “Had she never really seen me play, I don’t feel like I would have been able to make that connection. And I took a little workshop with her over Zoom. It was like two to three classes, and it was awesome, and I learned so much. And it was cool because that’s a primary example of how those two worlds collide.”

Long term, Sczech said she wants to cover college sports, but for now, she’s playing it at one of the highest Division I levels. In an up-and-down season, McGuyre said he knows Sczech is just getting started.

“There’s so much more confidence that is going to come out of her,” McGuyre said. “She gets used to that big, long frame and continues to get stronger — when she’s like 27, [Sczech] is going to be a real dominant force. … Our future is bright because of her youth but also her strength.”