The COVID-19 pandemic forced Emily Rouleau, Dundee High School Class of 2010, to return to her professional roots.
And, there, she found her first Emmy.
Rouleau, 30, is an associate producer for Bally Sports Detroit (formerly Fox Sports Detroit) and assists with Bally Sports’ broadcasts of Detroit Red Wings and Tigers’ games, with some Pistons work sprinkled in.
But her first work for Bally Sports in 2015, after graduating from Western Michigan, was as a production assistant working two days a week to help produce a weekly high school football show.
With the pandemic taking its toll on professional sports, Rouleau’s work shifted from broadcasts of Detroit’s pro teams to high school football broadcasts, because high school football was among the early sports to see some level of “normalcy” in the fall of 2021.
“Our network and a couple of the other regional Bally networks got on board with broadcasting high school games. We had the big production trucks and crews at the high school games on Friday nights,” she said.
Rouleau served as editor on and helped produce “The Return of High School Football,” which aired as last fall’s season began. That story earned Rouleau’s first nomination and first Michigan Emmy, in the Sports – Editor category, during an awards presentation in early June.
“The story was about kids overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic and trying to maneuver how to just be kids and play sports again; to try to get some sort of normalcy and what a COVID lifestyle looks like for an athlete,” she said.
“I don’t think they quite understood the level of crisis in the world going on and they finally got a dose of reality as kids. As athletes, one of the things that come naturally and easily is playing, and getting to go out on the field. Finally getting to see that side of the world and still trying to be athletes was really cool,” she added.
“The most important piece I love about winning it was that the kids were just so happy to have a sense of normalcy back, and it’s reflected in the piece,” Rouleau said.
“I honestly didn’t think I would win,” she added. “Not to downplay high school sports, but throughout the state, there are a lot of editors and pieces we get to do. I just didn’t think a high school football piece would be the one they’d pick.
“I was very surprised but it was a very good surprise,” Rouleau said.
Currently, Rouleau lives north of Detroit but her family still lives in Monroe County.
“My parents keep the family updated with my work, and I keep pretty busy so they know I don’t get to come home as often. When everyone found out, everyone was reaching out and sending their congratulations. My family is great. They’re very, very supportive, she said.
“When I started at Ballys and only working two days a week, high school football was the only thing I got to do, so that in of itself is very full circle and awesome that my first award was for something I got hired in to do,” Rouleau said.
“It just all worked out.”