I didn’t plan to ever leave local TV. Not after 12 years, two cross-country moves, and countless 60+ hour work weeks. Growing up, I always dreamed of being a sportscaster in my hometown of Phoenix. So, when I started juggling my main job at WSIL-TV in Carterville, Ill., last fall with a handful of ESPN3 games working as a college volleyball analyst, I didn’t think anything of it. I’d always worked a few college basketball games every year as a color analyst.
What I quickly discovered is how much I loved the freedom and challenge of unscripted, live games, and in a world where I was used to delivering the sports news, the freedom to give my opinion. I was hooked, and after long stretches of 80-hour work weeks and no day off for months at a time, juggling both gigs (not to mention I rarely saw my husband), I realized something had to give.
So last November, I floated the idea to my husband, Chris, about transitioning full-time to freelance. My fall and winter was steady with college basketball games and hosting a weekly football segment for the Missouri Valley Conference. Luckily, he wasn’t just supportive. he loved the idea. So, like that, the plan was hatched … I’d leave the station where I’d worked for more than six years, late in the spring.
I thought I’d be nervous to make the jump or afraid of the unknown, but in the months leading up to my departure, there was just a steady calmness, which reaffirmed it was time. Yes, it was a HUGE risk. Yes, there would be no guaranteed paycheck coming in every two weeks. Yes, it was all on ME to get the work, but I’ve always loved pressure. And frankly, I worked very hard to get more games.
So now, nearly five months into my career transition, would I make the same decision? You bet!
I’m happier than ever and love the work I’m doing. I’m calling college volleyball on ESPN3 and come November, basketball games, and hosting segments for the Missouri Valley conference and working sidelines for their ‘game of the week.’ I hope to add softball in the spring. Now I can immerse myself in research and studying for games and go to practices, without worry of being on deadline for the 6 and 10 pm news.
It has not come without it’s moments of uncertainty and insecurity. I have to plan and save ahead now for the ‘leaner’ months that will come in the summer, when college games are on hiatus … not to mention the taxes I will owe Uncle Sam. Let me be clear … freelance is not for everyone. There are a lot of hurdles to clear and overcome, but for me, the timing was right.
And for a girl that lived and breathed her job all through her 20s, I now know it’s okay to say goodbye to your childhood dream while still embracing your future destiny, wherever it leads.
So, make that left turn, embrace the unknown, and remember this: as you prep for your next game, those extra moments you now have with your husband and dog, are meant to be savored.