Where are you originally from? How did it shape your relationship with and view on the game of basketball? Did you play at all?
I am from a small town west of Cleveland, Ohio. I love my hometown more than anything, but it didn’t matter where I was from, I was going to love basketball.
Where I am from influenced the teams I rooted for, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Ohio State Buckeyes, but it isn’t the reason I love the game. Family is. My father played college football, my mother played tennis in college, and my aunt, Connie, who lived with us growing up, was a varsity basketball coach. My mom and dad both traveled a lot for work, so Connie helped raise us, which meant we didn’t go to a babysitter, we went to the gym!
We spent hours and hours at her practices. She had us dribbling the second we could physically hold a basketball! We used the dribbling goggles, performed cone drills, two ball handling drills, tennis ball drills…you name it, we did it. She had us write our goals on poster boards and put them on our ceiling in our bedroom so we could remind ourselves every night that we could do anything we put our minds to. We had a half court across the street from the house. A cement half court with a stiff rim. Nothing special. But we went to war on that court. We would dribble anywhere. The road, the airport, the gym. I fell in love with the game because of Connie. The fact that my parents were college athletes and competitive as hell, certainly helped! They were also extremely hard workers, which I also took pride in.
I had a small detour in high school, when my mom encouraged me to compete in the Miss Ohio Teen USA competition. She was a former Miss Ohio, and has her current business of 35 to thank for it. She knew the process would be beneficial for me. It helped me learn interview skills, gain confidence, be inspired by women outside of my hometown and think more seriously about what kind of an impact I wanted to make in this world. She was right. I ended up winning Miss Ohio, and went on to compete on national television for Miss Teen USA. I ended up winning that too. So for a year in high school, I was in and out of New York City, traveled to 25 different states, two different countries and raised over a million dollars for charity. So if you want to know why I am a sportscaster, with a non-profit, take my sports background, pageant experience, and teenage fundraising initiatives and there you go. This affected recruiting, but I was bound and determined to play college basketball. It was one of those things I wrote on my ceiling poster-board.
Take us through your time on the court at Ohio University?
It was one of those things I wrote on my ceiling poster-board. Plus, everyone told me I was too small to play D-1. Therefore, I was DEFINITELY going to play D-1. My AAU coaches vouched for me, and I walked-on at Ohio University. I will never forget the day of the open try out. I had to do a series of shooting drills. I barely missed. I had to play a few other try out women one-on-one. Lastly, I had to run a mile against the team, which I got 2nd place. My dad was in the rafters the whole time! I never knew! The coach announced after the mile that I had made the team. It was a dream come true! It was grueling. It challenged me mentally and physically to the point where you think you are going to break. But you don’t. You get through it. Your teammates lift you up and you make it. It’s the beauty of sport. You are as strong as your mind, and those around you.
Post college you’ve become a well known figure in the basketball world reporting for NBA on TNT, March Madness and more. How has your experience been and what advice do you have for people wanting to work in the sports industry?
I have absolutely LOVED every second of being a sports journalist. I don’t take it for granted either as I know these positions are few and far to come by. I worked really hard in college and out of college to prepare myself for this role. I wrote, produced, edited, called radio games as a play-by-play and an analyst, shot camera, volunteered like crazy, and had my knowledge of the game from playing. You also have to have good timing and a little luck to land on the national broadcast scene and I am aware of that.
My advice would be to work hard, be nice, make no excuses, and have fun. Someone else will always be better or worse than you. It is how prepared you are and how you treat people that matters.
Anyone you enjoyed interviewing most? Any stories that stick out about this person/people?
I really enjoyed interviewing the coaches in this year’s NBA playoffs. Specifically because they cared about the game so deeply and cared about the players for their skill set on the court as well as their lives off of the court. Steve Kerr, Monty Williams and Willie Green are prime examples. There are so many great coaches in the game, but I respect the coaches that care about the player as a whole, and LIVE for the game most.
A lot of NBA players more recently have shown disdain towards sports media. How do you keep the players comfortable and giving good answers?
Media now is extremely overwhelming. You don't know what to read, who to trust or if what you are reading is true. Even as a journalist, I don’t know what to read or what to believe. Trust is earned. I know that the longer I am in the game, the more people will trust me.
I try to always remember when working that it's not about me. It’s about the athlete and the fan. I also try to always remember that there are so many layers to a person. Whether that is a player, coach or general manager. I know there are so many moves and conversations made that go into every decision, many of which we don’t get to know. I just make sure I do my job. I ask the questions, report the facts, cover live sports and do the best I can.
As a reporter of your status, travel is frequent. What basketball arena/city have you enjoyed most when visiting?
I enjoy most arenas! The Staples Center is iconic although now it has a different name. The Warriors' old arena in Oakland and their new arena in San Fran are electrifying and magical due to the players and fans. I always love working games in Cleveland because I grew up watching so many games there. This year Toronto fans were intense and really fun to be around. You can’t beat Madison Square Garden though. The amount of iconic moments, court side celebrities and loyal fans in that arena gives you goosebumps!
Outside of sports you are Co-Founder of “HelpCureHD”. What exactly is Help Cure HD and what prompted its origin?
While I love my job, my greatest passion comes from what I do outside of work which is to help fund my husband's foundation HelpCureHD. HelpCureHD provides the funding for families in financial need to go through the in vitro fertilization process (IVF) to have children free from Huntington’s Disease. Huntington’s Disease, or “HD,” is a hereditary deadly disease similar to Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Dementia all in one.
It is awful. My husband’s mom passed away from it, and every child has a 50% chance of also inheriting the disease. Through IVF, you can eliminate it from your family line…forever. It is the cure we have now. We are ending Huntington’s Disease, one family at a time, for families who couldn’t afford it otherwise. We also went through IVF, and are pregnant with our first HD-free baby boy!! God is good.
Is there anyone you would like to thank for helping during your journey?
I would like to thank God for the continued direction He has given me. I would like to thank my family for always expecting the best out of me, and teaching me hard work and kindness. I would also like to thank all who have allowed women to break through in sports, challenge the status quo, and continue to push forward for equity in sports.