You don’t reach the ranks of national fame in sports journalism by chance.
In the case of decorated FOX Sports reporter Erin Andrews, you could say her professional achievements are a natural extension of a childhood passion.
The 41-year-old ESPN veteran, who now reports for “Thursday Night Football” and “America’s Game of the Week” on FOX, explained that she grew up watching her dad, Steven Andrews, report on sports as an investigative reporter for an ABC affiliate in Tampa, Florida.
“I started to get obsessed with the stories behind players, and coaches, and organizations, and fan bases — and just liking the teams and players my dad cheered for,” Andrews said. “That was kind of our bonding — watching the Boston Celtics, and the Boston Red Sox, and the Green Bay Packers. And I decided I wanted to go to school for it because I would see women working in the industry, and that was something I wanted to do.”
Jump-starting her dream
Andrews, who was born in Maine but moved to Tampa with her family in second grade, enrolled as a freshman at the University of Florida in 1997 not only because of the school’s top-rated journalism school, but also because of its reputation for success on the field.
“I told my parents flat out I wanted to go where there was a good football team, and they were like, ’Why don’t you worry about the academics?’” Andrews said. “I said to my dad: ‘The reason I want to do that is if my football team is good, then ESPN is gonna be there, CBS is gonna be there. All the sports outlets that I want to learn from and work for will be there.”
Her instincts weren’t wrong. During her first year at school, the Gators’ football team won the National Championship while Andrews was reporting for the student TV station. Not to mention, as a member of the Gators’ basketball dance team, Andrews had a front-row view of the hoops team’s success as well. During the summer, she didn’t tire, as she interned with her dad.
And she never once doubted her ability to excel.
“When I thought about going into this industry, I never once thought about being a minority,” Andrews said. “I just did it because it was something that I wanted to do — because I loved sports so much. I never thought, ‘Oh, there aren’t that many women doing it in the industry.’ I guess that was my ignorance, but that was also my excitement level of just wanting to get to work.”
Making her wish a reality
Following her dad’s advice, Andrews networked at every chance she got. While living at home and freelancing at a local network, she’d send follow-up emails to new acquaintances within a week.
Although it took her about six months to get a steady job, when she did, her determination ended up paying dividends. After working as a sideline reporter for the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, she landed a gig at ESPN.
Andrews said when the famed sports network put her on a Thursday night college game, Saturday college Game Day, and another Saturday College Football Primetime game, she felt she’d made it.
“It was like, ‘Wow, this is really, really happening,’” she recalled.
That doesn’t mean Andrews is done working hard. Her foot is well within the door, but she emphasized the importance of continuing to bring your A-game to everything you do. For Andrews, that’s not just as a sportscaster, but also as a host of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”
“Preparation is so key in our industry, and it’s even more so for me because I’m a female and I never played football, I never played a down in my life,” she said. “It feels like there will always be doubters out there.”
Melinda Carter, [email protected]