Female Sports Professional: Jennifer Rodriguez

JRod2It's that Monday again, one of the days to feature another Female Sports Professional! Today we have one of the lovely co-creators and co-hosts of Bad Girls of Sports: Jennifer Rodriguez. "Off the heals of developing a sports reality show, Jennifer, along side her co-creator Mahogany Ratcliffe, officially launched On The Inside Sports, a radio-talk show which gives listeners an informative, yet entertaining look inside the world of sports." Follow both ladies on Twitter @BadGirlsSports and stay tuned in the near future for Mahogany's insight but today... Let's learn about Jennifer.

How long have you been in the sports industry? About 10 years.

Please give us a little background on how you got to your current role:   
Both Mahogany and I have been friends for sometime and we would often talk sports. From what I remember one day we just got together and decided to “play around” in the studios and listen to ourselves talk about sports, from somewhat of an insider’s prospective. (Hence the name of the show.) We truly had a great time and realized we were on to something. We were considered the Bad Girls of Sports because, at that time, no one was doing what we were doing, which was two females covering sports entertainment.

How did you learn you wanted to get into the sports industry?

I got into the sports industry somewhat as a default. Sports did not play much of a part in my childhood. I came from more of an arts background having dance most of my life. I studied business at Hofstra University and when I graduated my young naïve mind told me I was to old to dance or study theater. I thought my dreams where over, but I always had the desire to work in entertainment, just not in the area related to the things I wanted to be. I turned to sports, something far removed from my artist world and something that I had little knowledge about.

JRod

Was there a time or situation that made you second-guess your path?
As hard as I worked to get myself into the National Football League, back then I often wondered if it was the place for me. I struggled with having to teach myself the sport, being young in a male dominated environment and being in a “corporate” setting.

I still vividly remember being newly hired as a public relations assistant for The National Football League, sitting at my desk researching acting schools to attend and beauty pageants to enter in efforts to find my way back into the arts world.

I second-guessed my path to the point that I took a six month leave of absence from the NFL to move to Los Angeles to purse my dreams. It is a choice I do not look back on, as challenging as the journey has been, it has lead me to where I am today.

Please let us know who your mentors were/are on your journey.
I had the pleasure of working for a woman named Deanna Hunter, who was the dean for one of the on-campus programs at Hofstra University. What I remembered most about her was how she commanded a room solely by entering into it. She was a very smart woman who had so much strength and power in her presence. I learned so many things from her, and in many ways, I wanted to be like her. Her professionalism and the manner in which she conducted herself taught me how to be secure and confident in male dominated world. Little did I know I was learning life long lessons that carried me and still carry me through my career.  

Do you think there is a negative ring that automatically lies around females within the sports industry since it’s a male dominated industry?
I do think that there is a negative ring that lies around women in sports. It’s like the little dirty ring round the shirt collar. It’s there, they are stubborn to get out, but with a couple of washes, eventually it will go away. With detergents such as Jackie MacMullan, Nancy Lieberman and UConn Huskies women basketball team, we can get it out in one wash.

BadGirls2What tips or advice would you give to a female wanting to enter the sports industry? Don’t be apologetic, don’t be afraid to push the envelope and take risks. You know what you know and what you don’t know it’s up to you to find out. I tell women not to feel they need to compromise who they are and what they are to work in sports.

What would you say to the men who don’t see women as being on the same level when it comes to the sports industry?
I would say that they are right. They are not on our level and we don’t want to be on theirs. We, as women, strive to be great at what we do and that is the level we are on. 

Have you had a personal experience where someone doubted you and you proved to him or her that they should support you?
It is hard to select just one experience where someone doubted me and my abilities and I had to prove otherwise. It is part of everyday when you have a radio show that does not conform to what the “norm” is right now. We have two women discussing game day issues along with life issues of professional athletes, people constantly want to challenge you. The fact that Mahogany and I single handedly created this show and have a weekly increase in listeners is proof enough.

If there were one thing you could change about the sports industry, what would it be?
I would change the unfair and unwarranted treatment and perception towards women when it comes to sports.

What is your favorite sports moment or quote?
“Any fool can love something that is beautiful or special or quick or extraordinary or smart. But you will never really know love until you have an opportunity to love someone who is not perfect”. - Vince Lombardi

"Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
-John WoodenBadGirls

What is your biggest accomplishment to-date in terms of your experience in the sports world?
Certainly will have to be giving birth to On The Inside Sports.

What are your favorite sport sites online?   
Yardbarker and www.ladyballers.net

Do you have a favorite player/team?
It’s hard for me to have a favorite team because I am a fan of the players, and its hard to say I have a favorite player because I have had the pleasure of getting to know so many professional athletes. But if you twisted my arm and I had to chose… I am going with New York on every sport, oh and Kevin Durant and The Oklahoma City Thunder!

Any advice for the LadyBallers
My advice is to keep doing what you are doing. I think it is awesome that you ladies have dedicated yourselves to highlighting the women in the sports industry. I feel it is very important to bring awareness to the contributions women have made, and continue to make, in the sports industry.

-------

Huge thanks to Jennifer for sharing her insights and passions!

Check out our previous Female Sports Professional interviews as well:

Justine Brown: Production-Assistant with the NFL Network

Jessica Quiroli: Baseball blogger and covers high school sports for Ultimate Athlete Magazine

Melissa Miller: Assistant Brand Manager for the Orlando Magic

Amber Anderson: Grassroots Marketing Coordinator for the Orlando Magic

Kathryn Stuart: Course Director, Sports Management and Operations - Entertainment Business Masters Program at FullSail University

Are you a female nterested in sharing your Professional Sports experience or know a female who would be good to feature? Email us and let us know!

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