We have had such a huge appreciation for our feature: Female Sports Professionals! Thank you! We hope you are learning and being inspired as much as we are from these amazing ladies.
Today we make way for a lady who has experience all over courts and fields: Justine Brown. A new grad from the University of Tennessee with various roles under her belt including Fox Sports Radio, NFL Network and team manager for Coach Summitt and the Lady Vols' basketball team. Currently she is a Production-Assistant with the NFL Network. Let’s find out more about her!
How long have you been in the sports industry?
I've been playing sports since I was a kid, all the way through high school. Throughout my life I have played softball, basketball, volleyball, soccer, flag football and track. After high school ended, I chose to attend the University of Tennessee with an opportunity to work for Coach Summitt and the Lady Vols' basketball team rather then continue my athletic career at a small school. I was a team manager for the Tennessee women's basketball team for all four years of my college career. I was originally a Sport Management student but then switched to Journalism/Electronic Media for Sports Journalism.
Please give us a little background on how you got to your current role:
I just graduated from the University of Tennessee in May and I credit all of the positions that I have received post-graduating (Fox Sports Radio, NFL Network) either directly or indirectly to my experiences at UT.
Specifically speaking on my position I got at the NFL network, I first got to know Stacey Dales, one of the hosts on the NFL Network, when I was at the Final Four with Tennessee my freshman year of college. She was working for ESPN at the time and covering the Final Four. From there, I guess I left a lasting impression, so she always kind of remembered me. This summer, while in LA doing my internship for Fox Sports Radio, I ran into her at a basketball game and she asked what I was doing now. I told her that I was out here, and graduated, and she told me that she thought they might need help for the season and to send her all of my info for her to pass along to her producer. So, from there I got an interview and got the job.
Moral of that story is NETWORK...it is so important! She is a now a great mentor to me.
How did you learn you wanted to get into the sports industry?
I've always loved sports, like other people liked sports, but I loved them! I've always been the girl that knew just as much, or more, than the boys. Starting in middle school/beginning of high school I started not just playing sports but really following them. NFL, college football, NBA, women's NCAA basketball, men's NCAA basketball...you name it, I followed it, and it just really became my passion beyond just participating. So sports were what I always wanted to do, but didn't know if that was possible. Then, my junior year of high school I was invited to attend Tennessee's team basketball camp with a local high school who had a former player that worked in the Tennessee athletic department. While talking with her one day, she asked me what I wanted to do and I said something with sports. She then brought to my attention that there was a sport management major in college, which to me sounded like heaven, I had no idea, then she mentioned possibly going to Tennessee and working for the women's team, which again sounded like an excellent idea. So, for the next year or so I always had that idea in the back of my head, until I finally decided I should go for it.
Was there a time or situation that made you second-guess your path?
There have been a few times I have second guessed my path, but never enough to change my mind thankfully. The first time was probably about 3 weeks into being at Tennessee. For the most part I was handling being a fresh college student pretty well, but I remember feeling swamped with things to do for basketball. Season hadn't even started yet, the team was in pre-sason, but I remember just thinking WOW we have to do a lot and this is taking a lot of time. Little did I know this was only just a taste. Not to mention I didn't like no longer playing the athlete position, but rather playing the manager position. Thank goodness I battled through that though because it ended up being probably the single best experience of my life. I had learned responsibility, accountability, discipline, but also developed friends and relationships that will last forever and developed a family away from home.
The next time I second-guessed my path was when I switched from sport management to sports journalism. But that was a necessary change. I was still following my passion of sports, but I realized that the journalism side of things was a much better fit for me then the business side of things. These are the things you are supposed to learn while you are in college and taking classes though.
I have realized though, that the path is never easy but its all about the want/fight you have in you to get what you want. I firmly believe that you can get whatever you want if you simply GO for it. So many people just dream but don't try. It's not always easy, but I promise its easier than you think.
Please let us know who your mentors were/are on your journey.
I have many mentors whom I have learned from and continue to learn from throughout the journey. I can't even begin to name everyone who has been a mentor to me along the road. I have met so many people in the sports world who have helped me along the way from coaches, radio personalities, broadcasters, athletic directors, producers, etc. All of these people have taught me so much. Notably I'd like to say my family because I have an extremely supportive family. They have always encouraged and supported my every endeavor and have made so many sacrifices to allow me to do so. And then Definitely Coach Summitt. She is a legend for a reason. Not only is she a great coach, but she truly believes in helping to raise strong and successful women. She will do everything in her power to see that one of her "kids" doesn't fail. She has high standards and expects the best out of you. She teaches discipline, accountability, respect, hard work and loyalty. And although sometimes I may have had to learn it the hard way she made me a better person. Many times she shows tough love but at the end of the day I know that I could call on her and she would be there to help.
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 don't know about negative ring, but I definitely think, as a woman, you will probably have more to prove. Being a woman in a male dominated industry is kind of an art. You have to demand respect, you have to carry yourself in a manner that demands respect, and you have to have thick skin. If you take things personally, male or female, you aren't going to make it very far.
What tips or advice would you give to a female wanting to enter the sports industry?
Everything that I said above. Every man loves a pretty woman that can talk sports, but if you make yourself out to be nothing but a pretty face that is how you will be treated.
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?
Try me. I'd be willing to challenge any man in my field of expertise.
Have you had a personal experience where someone doubted you and you proved to him or her that they should support you?
You will always have to prove yourself, especially in a field as competitive as the sports industry. Specifically speaking, in my field of sports journalism/broadcasting, I have had COUNTLESS guys go, "wow you really do know sports."
What is your favorite sports moment?
My favorite sports moments are easily when we (Tennessee Lady Vols) won the National Championships in women's basketball in 2007 and 2008. Nothing like it.
I also attended game 6 and 7 of the 2010 Celtics-Lakers NBA finals and the experience was pretty surreal. Definitely not something I ever though I'd be able to say I did.
Favorite sports quote? Too many to just pick one. I really like like John Wooden's quote:
"Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful."
What is your biggest accomplishment to-date in terms of your experience in the sports world?
Hmm, I would have to say my biggest accomplishment to date would be my on-air broadcasting experiences on the radio. I started with an internship at Knoxville's Fox Sport's Radio affiliate, The Sports Animal. The voice of the Lady Vols, Mickey Dearstone, offered me an internship opportunity the last semester of my senior year on his show, 'Doc, Jeff and Heather in the Morning'. The show was during the morning drive time, which in radio is the busiest time. With no real experience previously, I hopped on the show three days a week, basically acting as a third co-host and I loved it. I never had any intentions of doing radio prior to that and through that ended up realizing that I actually really liked radio and had some skill in it. From there, with the help of one of my professors and my position at the Sports Animal, I landed a radio internship on the national Fox Sports Radio show, 'Into the Night with Tony Bruno' in Los Angeles. This was probably my proudest and most excited moment in my short career thus far. Working on the Bruno Show in Los Angeles, was an incredible experience. Tony is a big time, well-respected, broadcasting veteran, with a great staff and was excellent to learn from. I had an incredible experience. Along with learning how to produce and handle top-market radio, I received some great on-air opportunity and got to interact with many of our listeners.
Do you have a favorite player/team?
- Tennessee Volunteers. In anything. That is my school and I love the Vols.
- Minnesota Vikings for NFL football. Don't ask me why born and raised in Chicago, then lived half of my life in Wisconsin so I know it makes no sense.
- Wisconsin Badgers. Growing up in Wisconsin I also root for the Badgers, unless they're playing the Vols.
- NBA wise I don't necessarily have teams, but lately I do find myself rooting for the Clippers and Thunder a lot. I like the underdog teams with some young, great talent. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green, Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon.
- Los Angeles Sparks in WNBA. My best friend plays for them.
Those are probably my main teams. I do watch some hockey, baseball and soccer but I don't really have favorites.
Any advice for the LadyBallers?
Keep going after the dream! I love what you are doing highlighting women in the sports industry
Huge thanks to Justine for sharing her insights and passions!
Check out our previous Female Sports Professional interviews as well:
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