DALLAS — When ESPN reporter Holly Rowe gets assigned to the sideline of a Clemson game, she automatically knows she’ll be going to a place that feels like home.
“We’re supposed to be unbiased and I like to think that I am,” Rowe told The Clemson Insider Thursday at the Cotton Bowl Media Day at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. “I don’t care who wins or loses. I just want to do a good job on the game. However I feel like it’s a family (at Clemson).
“The Clemson fans have been so loving and embracing. They’re so warm and loving. I just like going there because I feel like I’m enveloped in this big, warm, Clemson hug. I definitely love going there and covering games there.”
No one has made Rowe feel more welcome than Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and his wife, Kathleen.
This past July Rowe was invited to be the guest speaker at the 2018 Dabo Swinney Ladies Clinic, an event put on by Swinney’s All In Foundation in order to raise money for breast cancer awareness. Rowe, who is a survivor of desmoplastic melanoma, which is a serious type of skin cancer was so appreciative of the opportunity to help inspire other women.
“Well it’s been really special to me because this was the first summer they invited me to come and participate in their women’s clinic,” she said. “I have just met so many wonderful, fun, beautiful, great people.
“I’m really proud of the fact that day we discovered a woman that had breast cancer. She discovered it that day, an early stage so to feel like you’re actually impacting people’s lives and health and making a difference, that’s really important to me. That I’ve been able to kind of get involved with them. I love that they involve me. So it’s been really special.”
While Rowe battled skin cancer for several years, she continued to fulfill her duties with ESPN, never missing a beat. This past August she made the wonderful announcement that she would be undergoing her very last chemo treatment.
“Everyday people are getting diagnosed with cancer and it’s hard and it’s frightening and it’s terrifying. So I guess I don’t have all of the answers. But what I learned about myself was to keep going. Every day that I wanted to give in or I wanted to stop because I didn’t feel well or I was scared or upset or whatever, I felt like cancer won a little bit.”
But Rowe was never going to let cancer win. So, she pushed forward and used her job as motivation and strength each day.
“So for me, keep going,” she said. “Just keep going and doing things that you love. I got really good about, ‘What makes me happy every day?’ I’m doing that. That was a good, healthy mindset for me so that’s maybe something I would share with others.”
Now Rowe is in Dallas covering the College Football Playoff semifinal Cotton Bowl game between Clemson and Notre Dame. Although she’s now covered college football for over 25 years, Rowe says she still feels grateful for the opportunity every single day.
“Well it’s really exciting,” she said. “I was speaking with Trevor Lawrence, the Clemson quarterback and he said, ‘I get butterflies. I’ll have butterflies before the game. I always do.’
“And I thought to myself, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s so amazing that I’ve been covering college football for over 25 years and I still get butterflies too.’ So, I love that. It’s exciting. I think it’s important we’re crowning a national championship in a playoff format. So it’s really exciting and this is the first step.”