Have you ever wondered, "How’d they land that job?" or "How’d they get into the sports biz?” Well, you’re not alone. I’ve been asked a dozen variations of these two questions more times than I can count.
And, guess what - there are as many different paths to a career in sports and television as there are folks in the business. No two stories are the same, but I have found the common denominator in most success stories include setting your goals high and relentlessly pursuing them.
So, in short, here is the story of my path to this TV gig.
Sports and competition are just in my blood and I can’t imagine life any other way.
In Texas, where I grew up, Friday Night Football is practically a religion and Sundays were dedicated to church and more football. It went without saying, that from the beginning of August until the end of the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl, Sunday mornings would be spent at church followed by everyone piling into the living room, flipping on the first of several games and chowing down on some delicious tailgate foods. Sundays were all about family, food and football.
From an early age, I was always on one team or another. In elementary school, I joined the local rec volleyball team, gave softball a go, and sprinkled in a season of indoor soccer. My middle/high school was small enough (just 20 students in my graduating class!), that we all had plenty of opportunity to be involved in the sports programs. Volleyball was my favorite sport and I was on the team all 3 years of middle school and all 4 years of high school. I played basketball for a few seasons, softball one season and even ran track my senior year. While I was not an all-star, going pro kind of athlete, I always made a solid effort and poured my heart into the game.
For as long as I can remember, I knew I wanted to go into broadcasting, but it wasn't until high school that I thought seriously about a career in sports broadcasting. The challenges were many - not only is it extremely competitive to land a gig on TV, but to do so in the male dominated sports arena, was even more daunting.
When I went off to college at the University of Oklahoma, I studied Broadcast Journalism and minored in Health and Exercise Sciences. Essentially, I wanted to learn about TV journalism and understand sports exercises and injuries. So how was I going to parlay that into a lifelong career?
Well, simply put, I got involved. I tried out for and got a spot on the OU Rowing Team, I was a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority, I worked on Gaylord College's news and sports shows, traveled abroad one summer, and landed an internship at a local news station.
That internship turned into an offer for a part-time job at the station in Oklahoma City thru my senior year. It helped me gain real world experience, gather tape for my reel and make some all-important business connections.
Everyone will tell you to "get involved" or "join a club" during college. I can't overstate this point enough - don't just pick something to pick something - take the time to get involved in organizations and look for opportunities that will help round out your resume and provide real and applicable experiences.
During my senior year, I searched for and applied for what felt like a bazillion jobs, went on countless interviews, continuously updated my reel, and reached out to the few connections I had in the industry. Finally, I got a call from the NFL!
Kansas City Chiefs
Here’s what I had worked so hard for! A chance to be a reporter in the NFL! Everything I had hoped and prayed for. So when the offer came to join the Kansas City Chiefs as a seasonal reporter, I jumped at the chance. It didn’t pay well, but I had a job … in my field, in the National Football League, and I was ecstatic!
My position was designed to assist their current on-staff reporter - take over community events, write off the field stories, emcee events, etc. Well, my first day on the job he announced he had accepted another position and would be leaving in two weeks.…surprise! Talk about jumping in with both feet, but here was my chance.
I was working six days a week during the season, logging long hours. Now, I'm sure you've it heard before, and I’m here to tell you it’s true - "You have to pay your dues and work your way up." It’s not always easy, it can be humbling, but you’ll learn so much along the way and it’s worth it.
Of course, my workload grew and the hours became longer, plus I had to learn his job, along with my new job, in a department full of guys who saw me as a young female right out of school who didn't know a thing about football.
It was partially true, I didn't know as much as they did. I had a lot to learn, but I wasn’t a quitter and I wasn't going to let them be right. Every day I read about football, I wrote about football, I watched practice, I listened to podcasts, and I even asked for Madden NFL for Christmas so I could play football.
I invested my time, my energy, everything into being the best reporter I could be and learning as much as I could about the sport, the team and the fans. I was editing, writing, producing, reporting, interviewing, hosting, and the list goes on.
Admittedly, that first season was rough. The team had one of the most difficult seasons in franchise history. The Chiefs went 2-14, fans created a group called "Save The Chiefs," and a horrible tragedy occurred where life was lost. It was challenging to say the least.
After eight months of blood, sweat and tears, I was offered a permanent position. I had done it! I was a full-fledged member of the team behind the team.
I worked with the Chiefs for three seasons before I felt I had maximized my time there and was itching for a new challenge.
San Antonio Spurs
Through networking in the sports world, I had a friend of a friend who worked for the Spurs and helped get my resume and reel to the top of the stack. Again, network, network, network. A strong network is crucial. It's cliché, I know, but I wouldn't be where I am today without the connections that helped open doors.
In 2015, back to Texas I went when I accepted a position in the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs and Fox Sports Southwest. It was a new and exciting challenge, and the pace was far different from the NFL. Often games were back to back, nights and weekends, and from the west coast to the east coast. But, hands down, the Spurs fans made my time in San Antonio unforgettable. They are passionate and loyal and I miss their high energy and sometimes entertaining and incredible costumes.
It wasn’t long before I realized I was yearning to broaden my horizon, so I connected with a talent agent for advice. We talked through my goals, my dream job, and how to get there. His words of wisdom – “You need to be on TV every single day.” He suggested working in the news. Now, after working in sports for so long, I didn’t see myself in news. Really? News? But I wanted to grow, learn and take that next step towards my goal. So news it was.
Once again, it's all about who you know. I reached out to an old co-worker from my days with the Chiefs who was freelancing at the ABC station in Kansas City. There was a job I had applied for and, just as the last story went, that contact got my resume in front of the News Director and it eventually led to a terrific job offer.
So in the summer of 2016, I loaded up and made my way back north on I-35 to KC to be an anchor and reporter. My role has changed a few times since I joined the crew here, but now I'm on the air everyday, for 4 ½ hours Monday through Friday. I have grown by leaps and bounds, learned a great deal, and I love being back in Kansas City!
As I said, everyone's path is different. This has been mine.
1. Get involved – join groups and organizations at your school and/or in your community
2. Internships – take what you’ve learned in the classroom and get hands on experience
3. Network – at your school, at your job, in your community, introduce yourself, shake a lot of hands and be persistent
4. Team player – be respectful, dependable, give your best effort and go the extra mile
5. Passion – if you’re passionate about your chosen field, you’ll be far happier on the journey, and, in TV, it creates a very necessary connection with your audience
Sports and television are not easy industries to break in to, but once you’re in, it’s important that you are able to adapt, are flexible, continue to learn, and, lastly, don’t forget your integrity. Also, a side note here, there will always be naysayers who criticize. Take it in stride and don’t let them distract you from your goals.
Remember, you will have to jump a few hurdles to get where you’re going and you will certainly have to pay your dues, but don't let anything keep you from pursuing your passion. I've been fortunate enough to have done just that - pursue my passions and enjoy my work. I'm so grateful for the experiences and opportunities I've had along the way and I’m excited to see what the future holds!
Are you working towards a career in sports, broadcasting, reporting, etc? Let me know and if I can answer any questions or you need some advice, please leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!
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