Women’s History Month: Q&A with MLB Network Reporter, Alanna Rizzo
Added by Elizabeth DiPietro on March 12, 2013.
Admit it; you’ve had that dream. The one where you blissfully quit your current job to fulfill the passion you’ve had since you were a child.
The vast majority of people will dream, but suck it up when faced with the decision to make an actual change. But one in a million will be willing to take a risk. Alanna Rizzo, a living manifestation of carpe diem, took the ultimate risk when she forsook an unsatisfying career in sales and marketing to go back to school for sports journalism.
Twelve years and zero regrets later, Rizzo is a reporter for the MLB Network. The Colorado native reports for shows like Intentional Talk and The Rundown, and was kind enough to interview with Double G Sports for Women’s History Month.
Alanna Rizzo, MLB Network
1. You grew up in Colorado. How big a role did sports play in your childhood?
Sports have always been a part of my life. From watching the Denver Broncos with my dad growing up, or participating actively in cross country and track during my high school years, sports have always been my number one priority. I’d say I’m pretty one dimensional. I know a lot about sports and not much else.
2. You earned an MA from the University of Colorado at Boulder. What made you decide to major in broadcast journalism?
I wasn’t happy working in sales and marketing in my previous life. I had an epiphany between the Christmas and New Years’ holidays in 2001. I asked myself if I could do anything, if money wasn’t an object, what it would be. Without hesitation I knew I wanted a career in sports. Sports journalism was a natural choice and I haven’t looked back. I took a second mortgage out on my house to pay for graduate school and started the journey. It’s easily the greatest decision I ever made.
3. As a Colorado native, describe how it felt to cover the Rockies, especially the year they made it to the World Series.
I think the majority of us in this business strive to get back to our home state and cover our beloved teams. Having the opportunity to cover the Rockies was incredible. The 2007 World Series was an absolute blur. I started on September 19, 2007 right in the middle of their crazy run where they won 21 of 22 games. But after that season I truly cherished the relationships that were cultivated and the experience of covering a team every day from the beginning of Spring Training to the end of the season including the playoffs which was the case in 2009. My time covering the Rockies was nothing but positive and the same can be said for my experience covering the University of Colorado and University of Denver. There is nothing like covering the teams you grew up watching.
4. What is it like working for the MLB Network?
Working for MLB Network has been a tremendous opportunity. It’s amazing the people that walk through our door and down our halls. Hall of Famers, All-Stars, legends in the game and the broadcasting world. Some of these people are my colleagues. It’s been a fun experience exercising my “studio muscles” since I came from primarily a reporting background. It’s different everyday which is why I love it.
5. Describe a typical day in your life during baseball season.
There isn’t a typical day and that is why I absolutely love it. The variety is what keeps me going. Some days I’m doing a feature story on Chipper Jones. Other days I’m doing news updates on The Rundown. Sometimes I’m hosting Intentional Talk or the “Rizzo Report”. It really just depends on what is happening. I like to think I’m like a utility player on a baseball team that brings eight gloves to the field because I never know what position I’ll be in.
6. Being a woman in your industry undoubtedly comes with challenges. Describe your biggest professional obstacle. How did you surmount it?
The biggest professional obstacle is constantly proving that I know what I’m talking about. Unfortunately there is a misperception about women in sports. And while there are women who are ok with the “eye candy” role, there are a lot of incredibly intelligent women in this business that can talk sports with the best of their male counterparts. Time and hard work have given me credibility but it’s a constant process.
7. What advice do you have for women who are interested in a career in sports? How important is a college education for young women today?
Work twice as hard as you think you need to. You will have to if you want to be taken seriously in this business. Everyone wants to have a type of job that I have but few are willing to put in the work that it takes to achieve a position like this. Preparation and thoughtful questions in your interviews are a must. If you don’t know something, don’t be afraid to ask. It’s easy to think you have to know every single thing about sports because you’re trying to prove that you do. But it’s ok to ask questions. A college education is important for everyone, not just young women. But equally as important are internships with local stations, networking, initiative and hard work. Nothing beats work ethic and drive.
8. As a female television personality, do you experience any pressures to look a certain way? How do you deal with those pressures?
The older I get the more I notice the pressures. There will always be a younger version of you. And there will always be someone who is willing to take a lot less money to get in the door. You have to stay relevant. I’m not a “girly girl.” I understand the importance of appearance but it’s not my main focus. I will never compromise my values and beliefs to keep up with the trends. Being confident and healthy is far more important to me than taking drastic measures to look young. There are many beautiful women in this business that aren’t 21 and don’t look like Barbie. Confidence and knowledge are sexy and last longer.
9. Do you have an exercise regimen, or are you one of those lucky people who doesn’t have to work out?
I’m the last person you should talk to about working out on a regular basis. I don’t, even though I know I should. I am however a lot more conscious of what I eat and put into my body. I’m starting to get more active. Baby steps.
10. You are married to small business owner Justin Kole. What do you and your husband like to do for fun? How do two career-driven people make sure to have time for each other?
He’s been a huge support for me over the years, moving 3 times across state lines so I could pursue my career. I’m glad I can support him in his business while he does something he loves. We enjoy fine dining and watching sports. But our number one love is our border collie, Guidry. He is our world. [Check out Justin Kole’s business website at www.tornadobandznj.com]
11. Who is your sports idol? Who is your non-sports idol?
I don’t have a sports idol. I’ve been covering athletes for 10+ years. They’re not idols. They’re normal people that put their pants on the same way we do. They’re just more expensive pants. I don’t idolize anyone but I will say I truly admire Oprah Winfrey and Jennifer Lopez. They’re two incredibly successful women that have made it big after coming from very little. They’re two very different women but two women I would be incredibly excited to meet.