“How did you get into the business?”
I get asked this question all the time, so I figured it was a good place to go next. Let me say this, everyone has their own road. Some easier – some harder. This was mine:
I have always loved sports. I grew up in Lubbock, Texas with two parents who graduated from the University of Texas. They both loved football and so did my grandmom who never missed the Cowboys on Sunday.
My parents had four kids – three girls and then a boy. So, there was a lot of conversation early on about hair and make-up. I think my dad needed a reprieve, so by the time baby brother came along, we were all sports fans.
Every Saturday, we’d get our chips and queso (did I mention we lived in Texas?) and spend the day watching college football.
It was what we did. It was a tradition.
I would call it religion, but did I mention we were in West Texas?
Fast forward to college where I began as a theatre/dance major at the University of Texas. I was going to graduate early, but after several trips to L.A., I realized that was not the road I wanted to go down. I liked being on camera – but I wanted to be myself. So, I added a major. I stuck around another year to finish my second degree in broadcast journalism.
My senior year, I decided to try out for the dance team. Though I was a former cheerleader and didn’t know half the dance steps, I somehow made it!
Being on the sidelines for Texas pom gave me the opportunity to get to know people in the business. I went on to intern at KXAN in Austin and Fox Sports Southwest in Dallas. During that time, I also worked every day babysitting, and at night as a hostess at a restaurant. I had a full plate.
At that time, women sports reporters were a new thing. Everyone said the first thing I needed to do was “pay my dues”. So, I spent the first two years of my career in Abilene, Texas as the weekend sports anchor and then sports director. I made $18,000 a year. I lived on soup and bluebell ice cream. One of my paychecks went to rent, the other had to pay for bills and everything else. It wasn’t abnormal to go to a co-workers house in the middle of the summer and the A/C be turned off. We couldn’t afford to pay for it! Every day, I questioned whether this was what I really wanted to do.
Interning helped open doors to the next job and the next.
From Abilene, I got a job in Austin where I worked for four years. From there, I started freelancing for FSSW and filled in on any broadcast they would let me. Rangers, Mavs, Stars, you name it.
After two years, and an eventual move from Austin to Dallas….
I finally got a job sideline reporting for college football on Fox Sports. Then, a job became open with the OKC Thunder.
After almost 8 years in the business; shooting, editing, anchoring, reporting, sometimes all in the same day – I had made it to a network. All that hard work had finally paid off.
Things have changed now – there are so many ways to get on camera. You can do things on-line, in arena, on you-tube.
Heck, there are so many ways to do this job, I’m probably not social media savvy enough to try to write about it!
However, for me, I worked out the kinks in smaller markets. I learned every part of the business, and what goes into putting on a broadcast. It’s those years of doing all the little things that makes me appreciate the opportunity I’ve now been given.
It may be old school – I got to where I am now by walking both ways, barefoot, in the snow:). But I found paying my dues paid off in the end.