A lot of you have been asking recently, how I got started in the T.V. bizz. I always forget that although I’ve shared the story hundreds of times, not everyone out there has had the opportunity to hear or read about it.
You might be wondering why there is a picture of me in a football uniform attached to this particular blog, and that’s just it, this picture is really what brought me to your local station.
This picture is me in a REAL high-school football MEN’S uniform.
When I was little, I dressed up as a football player for Halloween, but you see, this picture… this is the real deal. I played football for two amazing years.
How does playing football have ANYTHING to do with becoming a news anchor/reporter? Great question, and that my friends is where this story begins.
My older brother and I are naturally very competitive. He was the stud in high school. You know, the popular one who was friends with EVERYONE, smart, good-looking, intelligent, ringing any bells?! One night at the dinner table we got into one of our well known bickering sessions and we argued back and forth at what he could do better than me, and of course what I could do better than him. You know how those go.
Anyways, it came down to him saying, “I kicked for the football team, I have 21 points in pads, and that’s something you will NEVER be able to do, so there.” My response, “Watch me!”
The next day I marched up to the head football coach (without advertising this of course to anyone). I said, “Coach, I’d like to try out for your football team.” That man looked at me as if I suddenly grew an extra eyeball in the center of my forehead. After reassuring him I was very serious about this, he told me he was going to have to meet with my parents.
I have three brothers. I am the only girl.
Picture this: Dad’s reaction. Mom’s reaction. Guaranteed you’re assuming correctly!
My Dad took this very seriously. He would not have me embarrass the family, if I was serious about this; I was going to prove it. We immediately drove to the field. He asked me if I had a block. “What’s a block,” I asked. “You know – the thing you kick off of?” Dad was starting to look pretty doubtful. Of course I didn’t have a block, I didn’t even remember to bring a football!
Eventually we got our hands on a few and since we didn’t have a block… we used the next best thing: his Timberland boot. (If you ever want to become a kicker, a consistent and accurate kicker… Start kicking off of someone’s shoe/boot. The fear of what will happen to you if you accidentally kick their foot will automatically lead your focus to that football).
The first kick… let’s just say you would have closed your eyes, peaked through the cracks of your fingers, and attempted to avoid the full on belly laugh.
Every day was ground hogs day, and every day I got better. Try-out time came, I impressed the coach, and thanks to Title 9, I was part of the team: #21 — and my life has never been the same.
As you can imagine, being a girl on a guys team had its moments. Some awesome, others not as great.
Memories: Proving to myself – nothing is impossible. Proving my spot on the team to my teammates – who are now forever friends. Running back and forth between field-hockey practice and football practice (I played two high-school sports in one season and soccer in another league outside of school, yes three sports at once). Changing in the back of my Dad’s truck, running down to the football field during the National Anthem with my helmet on and hair tucked in. Sitting in the coach’s office while the boys got dressed (the girls’ locker room had the away team in it) … I would read the coaches Cosmo magazine and explain to them why their wives were the way they were. (I got your back ladies!) Shaking the opponents hands at the end of the game (They slapped my hand walked by and then…heads turned). The countless slaps on the behind (the boys did it to one another – and their excuse for going after mine… I was just one of the guys!) Getting sacked (All I could hear was my Dad screaming from the sidelines to get up and quit being a sissy). The extra sprints, the countless hours of training, the tears, the laughter, the motivational half-time speeches, the bus rides home (FYI – boys chant more than girls, it is just less appropriate). The list goes on.
My first year as #21 I turned down the press. It wasn’t about me. I just wanted to earn my stripes, my 21 points, shove it in my brother’s face and call it a day. That happened easily, but I wasn’t ready to give it all up. I wanted to finish my senior year on the team. Those boys became so much apart of who I was, and who I am today, so I stayed, and I was the kicker for my final year of high school.
The second go-around, coach said, “21 – You have a story to tell, tell it,” and so I did. I talked to newspaper reporters, television reporters, I was invited on talk shows, you name it. I was the one to break the .1% of females participating in a guy’s sport. I was the story.
Every time I was interviewed the anchors and reporters would ask if I was going to school to be on television. NO WAY! I was going to be a teacher. I never thought of television as an option. When I went on the 10! show, Bill Henley and Lori Wilson took a picture with me when the show was over on BILL’S camera. They were confident they would see me again… and they were right.
It took a few years, college and a few internships, but eventually I made it back and I was a production assistant for NBC10 Philadelphia. I then quickly moved up and became the weekend assignment editor. A few months after my promotion I received my first job offer: Reporter for WHAG-News in Hagerstown, MD. I was quickly promoted, and became one of their main anchors. Sixteen months later, I was asked to join the CBS6 news team in Albany, NY.
There are so many more girls out there now – making their marks in male dominate sports and fields, and I appreciate them all.
I am not the little girl on the Wheaties commercial, but I am the girl who followed her heart, followed her calling, and made new inspiring dreams become a reality.
Of course in the end, it would have never gotten this far if it weren’t for the people who believe in me and continue to cheer me on through this remarkable journey. Thank you for that.