CE: Who or what inspired you to get into sports reporting?
AB: I think my first encounter with sports reporting and broadcasting was watching College Gameday with Samantha Ponder. She was my first idol in the sports world. I remember seeing her on TV and thinking that if she can do it, I can do it too. Every day after school I would watch SportsNation with Michelle Beadle and knew I wanted to make this my career path. I loved talking about sports and watching them. I always saw I probably consumed more ESPN than Disney Channel growing up.
I was always an athlete as well. My first dream was to be a professional athlete, as many kids’ dream is. I grew up playing every sport I could from softball, basketball to track and field. I even ran a year of D-1 track and field at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. I always knew my end goal was going to be working in sports. I couldn’t ever get away from athletics. It’s felt meant to be since I first watched Samantha Ponder on College Gameday. A big saying of mine is “if you can see it, you can be it”. I’m so grateful I got to see women role models at a young age and aspire to be them. I aim to do that for every young woman watching now.
CE: Hurrdat Sports is really on the rise and has tons of good sports content. What has your experience been like with them?
AB: For a platform that started in June 2022, Hurrdat Sports has grown immensely. I can’t say enough good things about the creative freedom within this company. There is never a “no” to an idea. Nothing is too big or too small. It’s a very open environment where all ideas are welcome. It’s been a fantastic experience and I’ve learned so much about building a brand and content creation. I get to learn from some of the best in the business. I truly think Hurrdat Sports is changing the way Nebraskans consume their sports. It’s amazing.
CE: Your podcast “And Then There Were 3” covers a variety of topics. What has been the highlight of doing your podcast? How do you switch between being serious as a reporter to having fun with your friends on the podcast?
AB: When I first got hired at Hurrdat, our CEO Bill Hipsher challenged me to do one non-sports podcast. I didn’t know what it would be at the time, but I know, as a person, I’m way more than sports. I care about a lot of other things in my life and it’s easy to be defined by one single thing. I didn’t want that to be me.
Katie, Kaley and I have joked for years about starting a podcast. We have all of these funny, crazy experiences that happen and a knack for telling them to anyone we meet. I brought up the idea to Pat Safford, who is now our producer, and he loved the idea. I was very nervous at first as to how it would work out or if we could put together a good 20 minutes of talking, but we sure did. The first episode came out on October 3 and got up to No. 136 on the Personal Journal charts of Apple with over 1,000 downloads. It stayed on the charts for 10 days or so. That was such a cool feeling. People listened and loved the show and motivated us to keep going. We are now on episode 26, so it’s been 26 weeks of shows. And people still listen which is the craziest thing to me. Out of all of my podcasts, ATTW3 is by far the most successful and it has absolutely nothing to do with sports. It’s just me and my two best friends talking about life and funny things that happen to us.
As for how I switch between the two from serious to fun, it’s pretty natural. I know when moments need a light-hearted attitude vs a serious situation in a report.
I think doing a fun show like ATTW3 has helped my sports reporting immensely. It’s helped me tap into my fun-loving self. I think in some ways, it’s saved my career. I felt like I was going down a path where I wasn’t showing personality because I was so worried about being professional and being respected. That took away from my uniqueness. Now I fully embrace my fun, sarcastic and creative side in sports reporting. Of course, there’s always a time and a place, but now I feel way more open to be myself. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned about life. Just be yourself. It’s so simple but so true. I got so caught up in being a sports broadcaster that I wasn’t being “Ana”. The more I’ve been true to myself, the more I’ve found success
CE: Any advice for someone looking to be a reporter and content creator?
AB: Number one- be yourself. You can make a whole living off of it. Build up your own brand. It’s not too late to start. If you don’t have a platform, make one. Create a twitter page, create a website, YouTube channel, anything. You can create content in so many ways, so much easier nowadays. Get on Tiktok, tell your stories. Just don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Everyone has critics, and you’ll have to be okay with that. Just be consistent and keep going no matter what. Everyone starts with zero views and zero followers. Focus on the audience at hand and be mindful of who you’re trying to reach. Make content that makes you stop on your timeline. Think about what you like to see and create that. Find your niche and start there then expand. Never think you’re too big or too small to do something. Stay true to your values and make content that makes people laugh, think, or learn.