I don’t think there are enough numbers in mathematics to explain how many times I’ve been questioned about how I got into sports reporting.
A lot of people at first just assume I’m filling for someone for the day or they wonder if I got forced into the beat while trying to hire a real sports reporter. I’ve also had people think it must be because I played sports when I was growing up.
Just Thursday at the regional softball tournament, someone asked me if I was covering it “for some experience.” I wanted to say, “No, I have almost 10 years of experience, but thanks.” But I refrained.
It’s truly amazing to me how few people think, “Hey, she’s probably just a big sports fan and wanted to make a career out of it.”
But I’m here to tell you, that’s where it comes from. I grew up in a family full of sports fans, and I grew up with a mom who was a sports fanatic. There was never any idea in my household you couldn’t be a sports fan if you were a girl.
When it comes to our sports teams, my mom is just as much of a nervous wreck as I am. If you’ve ever watched a Washington Capitals game with me — or even one of our local high school teams in a win-or-go-home game — you’ll know I can’t handle the stress. I’m pacing or talking under my breath or biting my nails — something that’ll show you just how worked up I can get.
My mom is the exact same way. During the Caps’ Stanley Cup run, she had to walk out of the room if things got too stressful, and she even told us during the Virginia Cavaliers’ national championship game this year she was too frantic to even watch. My mom joined right along when the family bought Caps’ gear after winning it all and she now sends my brother and I weekly trivia questions about the team from her Cup calendar — many of which I’m sure she can answer herself.
I’m thankful to have grown up in a home where I could be whomever I wanted to be. My mom taught me it didn’t matter what other people thought of me but rather what I thought of myself.
Sure, most people think only men can get worked up about a football game but I’ll be shouting at a quarterback for making a bad throw or cheering when my team scores a touchdown just as loudly as the next guy — probably even louder, to be honest. But I’m also kind of a girly girl at heart. I love shopping and doing my nails and pampering myself, but if you take me out fishing, I’m not afraid to get dirty and have an adventure.
That’s one of things my mom taught me: Stereotypes don’t matter. I am who I am. Not only can I not change that, but I’m proud of who I am.
While I certainly don’t claim to know as much about football or basketball as everyone else, I do know there are very few people who have studied sports so completely as I have. Until you’ve covered everything from paddleball to hunting to high school football to squash, it’ll be hard to keep up with me.
That’s not because I want experience or because I got caught doing someone else’s job or even because I played sports when I was little — I did have a two-year stint as a volleyball player and I was terrible — but it’s simply because I love sports. I love competition, and I love seeing student-athletes putting their hearts on the line for something they love.
And even though people may think of this as a “man’s job,” my mom taught me it doesn’t matter what they think. Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, all the other sports fanatic moms out there and everyone in between.