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For ESPN’s Lead Soccer Announcer, It All Started In Aggieland

Stephanie Cannon '06 December 10, 2013 6:09 PM

By Roberto Molar Candanosa '13

Caption: Fernando Palomo ’95; his wife, Alexandra; and (from left) Juan Marcos, Matias and Valentina stopped by the Clayton W. Williams, Jr. Alumni Center during the September Aggie Ring Day.

Fernando Palomo ’95 is a prominent figure in Latin American sports broadcasting, working as a leading soccer commentator for ESPN’s Spanish-language channel and as the host of the network’s premier show on international soccer. He has anchored SportsCenter in Latin America and in the United States, is ESPN’s English-language commentator for Mexico’s national soccer team, and covers prestigious soccer tournaments, including the UEFA Champions League, the Spanish and Italian leagues, and the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup. In part, his remarkable trajectory began in Aggieland.

Palomo grew up in El Salvador and first heard about Texas A&M from his father, a graduate of Allen Academy in Bryan who recommended that Palomo’s brother, Eduardo ’82, come to Texas A&M. Each time Eduardo arrived home from college, Fernando Palomo heard stories of the Aggie Spirit, of which he felt a strong sense of belonging. Through his brother, Palomo met other Aggies who showed him the traditions and history that made him fall in love with the university. By the time another sibling, Federico ’89, became an Aggie, Fernando’s mind was already fixed on Texas A&M.

Palomo remembers everything about his time at Texas A&M, especially his life as a student athlete. He arrived on campus packed with practical advice from his brothers, an intense passion for sports and loads of determination. Having grown up dreaming about the Olympic Games, he decided to try his luck with A&M’s track and field team. During his freshman year, he had to watch the team’s competitions from the sidelines. Yet, with passion and determination, he later earned a spot on the varsity team, competed in several NCAA tournaments and became a letterman. After graduating, he set El Salvador’s record for the javelin throw.

But there was more to the track and field team than highly competitive training. One of his dearest memories at Texas A&M, the team introduced Palomo to people from other sports and nationalities. These friends made him feel even more attached to the university; they showed him what it means to be an Aggie from all different angles.

With tenacity and a bit of fortune, Palomo launched his career at a national newspaper in his native El Salvador, and then at ESPN in Argentina. Through these experiences, he always kept Texas A&M in mind. Being an Aggie taught him to never take any opportunities for granted, to cope with the demands of a successful career and to seek new challenges once old ones are met. “When they told me I was going to be on ESPN, in that moment I did not think my future was being fixed,” Palomo said. “On the contrary, in that moment, I knew my life was going to be more challenging because I had to demonstrate that I deserved to be in that spot.”

Latin America also was an interesting experience because of Palomo’s creative ways to explain the big Ring on his hand, his uncanny zeal for maroon and white, and how his Saturdays are dedicated to watching Aggie football. These were strange customs to those around him, in a land where “football” has a different meaning. Palomo explained to his colleagues that the love he felt for Texas A&M was similar to that of a soccer fan who sobs and cheers for his team.

Today Palomo tries to be the best journalist he can be by setting the highest expectations for himself. He knows he bears a great responsibility because of his family and a culture with which millions identify. Similarly, he feels as much responsibility to the former students of Texas A&M, because every time he appears on TV, he has an Aggie Ring on his hand.

The art of storytelling is what moves him now in his profession. He grew up admiring those with a special talent for sports narrative, and believes that because sports are a cultural phenomenon generating a myriad of emotions, they deserve to be accompanied by impactful narratives. “Sports have a magical ability to show people doing their best effort to try to overcome goals, but behind all of those people, there is a story of effort, sacrifice and devotion that is unknown to us,” he said.

For Palomo, everything is sports and sports is everything. He would love to paint, but does not see himself painting something other than stadiums. He loves photography, too, but always thinks of sports shots. And he wants to write a book, but it will have to be about sports.

Now an established ESPN announcer in Connecticut, Palomo returns to Aggieland whenever possible. It would feel like an injustice, he thinks, not to visit the place where he left so much of himself. “I come back because the air here is special, and breathing it and walking through the hallways of the buildings is a travel through time,” Palomo said. As a husband and father to three future Aggies, he hopes his children feel that same sense of belonging to A&M that he first felt as a boy in El Salvador.

A bold smile fills Palomo’s face when he thinks about the challenges that may await him in the future. Knowing there are still numerous goals to accomplish in his career and reminiscing about how he got to be where he is now, he said, “My professional journey is not common; it has been rather strange, but it has been my own journey and I have tried to forge it and follow it in the best way.”

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