What are your earliest memories of Basketball? What was it like growing up in a Marquette Basketball family?
I grew up on a street that had a cul de sac (a.k.a. it was a circle at the bottom of the street). My dad put a portable plastic hoop - the kind with the water filling the bottom to weigh it down - in the middle. All of the neighbor kids would come and we’d play in the street for hours in the summer - shooting hoops and also kick-the-can. When I got older, I helped my dad put in a concrete hoop in our driveway and we’d play my mom and I (the brown-eyed girls) against my dad and brother, Charlie. We painted a 3-point-line and I’d bet money that it helped Charlie and I become the shooters we are today. He still holds the Wisconsin State Tournament 3-point record from the year they won the state title over 10 years ago. And I put my 3-point shot to use in my Hoop York City league to this day.
Growing up the child of two Marquette Basketball players means you go to Marquette Basketball Camp every summer, you idolize Dwyane Wade and you fall in love with the game (and that school) almost immediately. At a very young age, I knew I wanted to go to Marquette. It’s a basketball school and it gave me quite literally everything (my family, my life, and my love for the game). I ended up playing club basketball there and even coaching the men’s club basketball team. I worked in Marquette Athletics and specifically with the men’s and women’s basketball teams - traveling to games, running the social media, interviewing players, and beyond. When I was there, they had two top-10 programs and the leading scorer in the country in Markus Howard. It felt like it truly came full circle in terms of what I got to do there - as a kid from a Marquette Basketball family, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I truly love those programs. I’m beyond grateful.
You landed a digital content role with the NCAA, how did that come about?
It was the first job I applied to and it was as I was entering my senior year of college. I had just spent the summer interning at FOX Sports in New York City and someone had reached out to me on Twitter about seeming like a good candidate for the role. It would mean I’d get to help run the digital & social for NCAA, including women’s college basketball (which I loved from the jump). I applied, was first told they went with a different candidate, then got a call back saying they declined and I was in. I felt like I got called off the bench - but I didn’t care. It was an opportunity I wouldn’t have wanted to bypass and it taught me so much. Again - grateful.
You do everything from on-the-court interviews to videos to photography. What is your favorite medium to tell stories?
I promise this isn’t a cop-out answer, but my favorite medium to tell stories is whatever best suits the story I’m telling. Not everything bodes well for video, even though it incorporates audio + visual. I enjoy having the players/coaches/whoever the story is about the centerpiece if possible (a lot of my job is figuring out assets, what can be used, and from there what should be used). I’m a big proponent of doing justice by people and their stories. How would they want it told? What honors them? Why would the way I tell this story make sense in terms of doing right by them and also making it compelling to the audience? Interviewing people gives me the chance to flex my curiosity - I was an inquisitive kid and that’s never left me. Asking questions, asking why a few times, and getting to the foundation of a person helps me tell the best possible stories I can. When stories are people-focused - truly zeroed in on who they are and humanizing that and doing justice by them - I feel that’s the way stories deserve to be told. At the end of the day, all stories are about people. I just use basketball as a vessel to tell them.
Talk about the social content landscape within the NBA and how it has shifted over the past year?
I’m still fairly new to the NBA side (I started on WNBA, then shifted to G League, and just got hired full-time with the NBA Social team). I can’t speak to how it’s shifted outside of the fact that there’s a huge focus on vertical storytelling content which is right up my alley and I’m glad the NBA sees the value in it as well.
What has been the greatest moment in your career so far? Any viral media moments you worked on?
I’ve had a lot of great moments for a 24-year-old in this space (turning 25 on February 2nd). One moment that sticks out - especially as a kid from just outside of Milwaukee who grew up a Bucks fan - was not only covering the Finals and their title, but a photo I took of Giannis at the championship parade. It was at the very end of the ceremony. Thanasis had pulled up in his Jeep. Giannis went to go say hello with Championship and MVP trophies in each hand. To my surprise, he stepped onto the hood of the car overlooking the crowd and Fiserv Forum - still with the trophies - and all of it was just perfect. I usually videotape so much of what I do, but for some reason, I knew this moment had to be a photo. Giannis ended up seeing it and posting it - and he not only gave me photo credit in the comments, but he DM’ed me to thank me. I’ve seen him since covering games this season and he’s remembered me by that photo. Again - I cared that it did justice by him and that he cherished a moment like that for him and his brother being captured. The fact that it went viral is just a testament to him and the title he brought to Milwaukee.
“Keep Showing Up” Is a saying you live by. What does it mean to you?
Keep Showing Up has carried me these past couple of years. I’m grateful so many more have clung to it as well and used it as both a life motto and a crutch for the hard times. Being able to raise more than $50,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention through those shirts has meant the world. But the part I take pride in is the fact that it’s been able to rally people and create a conversation around mental health awareness and suicide prevention. Some NBA players have donned the shirt, which helps spread the message further raise more money and bring together even more people. I just got it tattooed on my wrist as well (first tattoo, in fact) - I’ve had people ask me what it means and again, that’s just spread this whole movement/fundraiser/project even further as well. Keep Showing Up means the world to me - but it’s meant 100x more than it’s meant so much to others as well.