Suzy Kolber wanted to be the quarterback of her Philadelphia youth football team in 1974, before parents threatened to shut down the league if she did not quit.
Today, her role as the host of ESPN’s Monday Night Football pregame show resembles that of a signal-caller, directing a team of analysts as they preview each week’s primetime matchup.
Kolber detailed her journey to becoming one of the nation’s most visible and respected sports broadcasters during the opening night reception at AWSM’s 2016 convention in Miami, leaving attendees with a message of being passionate about the craft and building relationships with colleagues and sources.
“There’s been nothing easy about it,” Kolber said. “The motivation was never about wanting to be on TV. It was loving the game, respecting the game, respecting the people who were in the game and throughout the years so much hard work and preparation and being knowledgeable.
“Because of that, I never had a disrespected moment in this business. Ever.”
Kolber called Miami the “foundation” of her career. She graduated from the University of Miami, worked as a producer at three television stations in the city and got her first on-air job in nearby West Palm Beach.
But she’s made her biggest mark covering the NFL for ESPN. She spent 10 years as a sideline reporter. She hosted a scheme-heavy studio show called Edge NFL Matchup, which helped her earn players’ and coaches’ respect. This past season, she broke down Monday Night games alongside Steve Young, Trent Dilfer and Ray Lewis.
Kolber stressed versatility, noting her time as a producer makes her better on-air and her experience covering extreme sports helped her land her job at ESPN2. She emphasized her desire to keep improving, as she still tapes every show and welcomes constructive criticism from talent coaches. She encouraged students to seek out internships and veterans to keep going after their dream job.
Kolber may not have gotten to play quarterback as a child. But thanks to her successful career as a sports broadcaster, she now plays that role on-set in primetime.
“Probably one of the most meaningful things the guys say to me … they call me their quarterback,” Kolber said. “When we sit there together, I am their quarterback.”
– Gina Mizell