A graduate of Hofstra University with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism, Amanda Balionis always knew she wanted to report on sports. She had five internships in college, including ones with the New York Jets, New York Islanders, WCBS, ABC News digital, and Us Weekly.
“People always ask ‘what’s the way?’ I don’t think there is any one way,” said Balionis, 33. “I think you just have to be dedicated. You have to be OK with it not working out the way you think it’s going to.
“None of my career worked out the way I thought it was going to, but thankfully, in the end, it has. It took a decade for me to get to the place I thought I was going to be. It’s about being passionate and not giving up.”
When Balionis graduated in 2008, it was the height of the recession and many sports jobs were being cut. She moved back home to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and lived with her parents. She got a job at local newspaper but was laid off nine months later.
The next day, a Hofstra alum called her and asked her to audition as a sideline reporter for Verizon Fios Channel 1 covering high school sports. She got the job.
Next, Balionis was as a high school sport reporter for MSG Network in New York. Then in 2011, she joined the PGA TOUR as an in-house reporter and host, where she produced and reported tournament highlights and events.
Two years ago, she landed a job as a golf reporter for CBS Sports. She also works as a sideline reporter for some of CBS’s NFL and college football games. This year, she reported on social media during CBS’s Super Bowl coverage.
Balionis also works as an in-house reporter for Callaway Golf and is a contributor to Turner Sports’ digital and on-air golf team, and has covered the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup.
Balionis remembers, when CBS Sports hired her, producer Lance Barrow telling her, “We’re not bringing you in because you’re the best woman for this job. We’re bringing you in because you’re the best available person for this job.”
She’s never been deterred or discouraged as a woman a male-dominated industry. Balionis is not intimidated but says, especially in the beginning, women don’t have the same room for error as their male counterparts.
Her defense is to always be prepared: “No one’s going to ever catch me not doing my homework or not asking a question because I wasn’t prepared for it.”
These days, she rarely feels like the only woman in the room because she’s usually not.
“I work with a lot of amazing women at CBS,” she said, citing female colleagues behind the scenes and in front of the camera, including her colleague Dottie Pepper, who Balionis called an “incredible” analyst.
An animal enthusiast, Balionis visits animal shelters all over the country and encourages her 118,000 fans on her Instagram page to volunteer at shelters or adopt dogs, using the hashtag #PuppiesandGolf.
Balionis is also a certified yoga instructor. Growing up in Pittsburgh, she played volleyball and is a huge Steelers fan. She enjoys reporting on golf and looks forward to covering other sports, too.
“I have an amazing career and I’m so passionate about this game and the stories I get to tell,” she said.
Kristen Castillo, [email protected]