‘The Big Show’ at ESPN

OC grad develops popular sports apps

“My favorite thing at ESPN has been the people.”

ESPN, the sports media giant, has 7,000 employees worldwide.

One of them – OC alumnus Jonathan Taliaferro – works from home in Olathe, Kansas.

After eight years as a software engineer for Garmin International, Jonathan got a call from an ESPN headhunter. A successful interview led to a job offer.

He moved to Bristol, Connecticut, to become ESPN’s lead Android engineer, working on projects like the popular ScoreCenter app.

But then Jonathan and his wife Cindy discovered they had a baby on the way … and they felt called to Kansas to be close to their families.

That meant leaving ESPN … or so Jonathan thought. “The Worldwide Leader in Sports” really liked this OC grad.

“My boss went to bat for me and made the business case that it was worthwhile to allow me to work from Kansas City. I’m really, really fortunate that ESPN allowed that. And I try to work as hard as I can to prove to the people who had faith in me that it was a good decision. That’s a responsibility I take very seriously,” Jonathan said. “I’m so blessed that I get to see my baby in the morning every day. I feel like God has definitely had a strong hand in leading my path. He has blessed us tremendously, and I’m grateful.”

Jonathan’s path to OC started at his family’s farm in Severy, Kansas. After he got his associate’s degree at York College, the pull of good friends from Silver Maple Bible Camp and his desire for a strong engineering program brought him to Oklahoma Christian.

He learned from influential professors like Art Sheldon and David Waldo on the way to earning his computer engineering degree in 2003.

He participated in OC’s Vienna Studies program the fall after he graduated, then started working for Garmin. He created music player and audio book apps, and held the lead engineer position for Garmin’s weather application and weather widgets.

“OC prepared me for programming, but the biggest thing OC prepared me for was just how to think as an engineer because that was the greatest tool for me – just being able to adapt. That’s really important in the engineering field because it changes so quickly,” he said.

While his most important jobs are “husband” and “dad,” Jonathan’s impressive resume also includes a master’s degree in ministry from Pepperdine University. He’s on track for a master’s degree in engineering management from the University of Kansas.

His ESPN responsibilities take him to Connecticut occasionally. A recent trip included a full slate of meetings on the sprawling ESPN campus, a dinner party with his boss and co-workers, and some time in front of the tube watching an Oklahoma City Thunder playoff win.

“My favorite thing at ESPN has been the people. Everyone is just happy to be there. That’s kind of cool,” he said. “I’ve worked with a bunch of really good people over the past 10 years. I’ve been on a number of different teams. You get moved to work on a different task – you have a whole new team, a new boss and org structure … everything. But I’ve just really been blessed. Everyone I’ve worked with has been good to work with.”

By Wes McKinzie