Renee Washington is a sports reporter after an accomplished career as a dual-sport athlete for Le Salle University in track and soccer. Nothing captures Renee better than (our favourite) emojis found on her Instagram bio.
It was exciting when I connected with Renee because I’ve been a big fan of her for years. Renee speaks about her journey into sports reporting and the steps she took to get to where she is today. Sometimes you may be doubtful of the path you are on, Renee took these doubts and transformed them into goals that were most definitely successfully achieved. One of my favourite takeaways from interviewing Renee is how she became the graceful and confident sports reporter she is today.
Tell us about your role as a sports reporter.
I work with Fox Sports as a sports reporter covering the Washington Mystics and Wizards. I also host a weekly sports podcast called ‘Beyond the Headlines with Renee Washington’.
My show covers professional soccer, basketball, and football in the United States and internationally. I also have a ‘Positive Vibes Only’ segment highlighting people making a positive impact in their communities. Finally, the show closes with a song by a different musical artist each week
What does a typical day look like for you?
One of the things I love most about sports reporting is that every day is different. Depending on my game schedule and work schedule it varies from one day to the next. One day could be more writing and/or editing heavy and the next could be more out in the field at a game or practice.
My workdays also vary in hours depending on where I will be shooting/covering games as well as the timing of things.
With my work in sports reporting across multiple networks as well as my other work, I love that I do not have a typical routine.
We noticed you were a multi-sport athlete during your collegiate career. Do you think being an athlete prepared you for your professional career as a reporter, and can you discuss why?
I was fortunate to be a two-sport division one athlete at La Salle University. I ran track, but my main sport was soccer. I pursued a professional soccer career and coached division one soccer at Lehigh University. Through my coaching and playing, I developed my ethics, values, and character.
I also learned a developed my drive and work ethics that help carry me through this tough career.
Additionally, I work through the lens of a player, fan, coach, and reporter to frame my stories and interviews. I try to create content that appeals to each of those categories so that everyone can connect with the piece, regardless of their level of knowledge for the sport
What led you to a career in sports reporting?
I grew up in a sports family. My dad played professional basketball overseas. My mom played college basketball. My siblings all played high school and college sports. I even have some relatives who also played as high as the professional level in boxing and the NFL.
Sports have always been a big part of who I am. I grew up a three-time athlete playing soccer, basketball, and track. As I was getting older and trying to figure out which career best fit my interests, passion, and skillset my love for interviewing and storytelling along with connecting an audience to a player, coach, or team was undoubtedly the best career path for me.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced throughout your sports industry career?
One big challenge I faced was getting into sports reporting. With a public relations bachelor’s degree and a double minor in Spanish and psychology, my eight internships in college were all focused around PR, brand management, and marketing.
During my junior year in college, I realized I enjoyed what I was doing, but something was missing. I knew that everything I was passionate about was leading me towards sports reporting. I just did not know how to leave the foundation I had been building in PR to transition into sports reporting.
While I was coaching at Lehigh University and pursuing my master’s degree, I started actively working in broadcasting. I studied it, I worked as a freelance writer and in the sports media department doing camera work and began immersing myself in as many areas of sports reporting as possible.
You’ve held various roles in the realm of sport, specifically as an athlete, a coach, a trainer, and a sports industry professional. Why is sport important to you and what keeps you committed to it?
I love what I do and every aspect of it. I am driven by sports. I love the competition, excitement, adrenaline rush, the way it unites people, and the way sports can influence others. I do feel sports are a platform for many things. It can be used to teach, build character, and inspire.
As a sports reporter, more than just the excitement of covering games and teams, I love to provide fans an inside look into their favorite teams, players, and coaches to learn something they would not have ever learned through google or social media.
I love to dig deeper than the basic questions and storylines and through educating, hopefully, connect and motivate others, especially the next generation.
How do you handle media, reporting, public speaking with such grace and confidence?
Something I learned from an early age is that practice and preparation are keys to success. As an on-air talent, the reps you get on camera, at an event, etc. help tremendously with building your confidence in public speaking. Talking in front of the mirror can only prepare you so much. You have to just take the leap and do it. Start small and within reason, but with each opportunity you’ll learn and grow to be a better speaker.
“In terms of preparation, it is so SO important to study and research prior to any event, interview, show, or anything on air.”
The homework done beforehand, allows me to be able to lead a show or interview without needing to follow a script. I know I have read and watched all I could to be knowledgeable about the conversation and/or questions. I often have noted just in case I need them, but I do not feel tied to a script or notes because I am as prepared in the area of discussion as I possibly can be going into the event, interview, or show.
Practice and preparation allow me to be genuine and focus on connecting with the person(s) I am interviewing or the audience I am speaking with for the event or show.
I can focus on my eye contact, body language, and other ways to connect rather than get in front of people and feel like I am simply just reading.
What would you include on a list of your top 3 biggest accomplishments (or moments) between working in sport?
A couple quickly comes to mind.
1 Making the leap to sports reporting
My first accomplishment was during my time at Lehigh University, transitioning into sports reporting. That was a huge confidence boost for me as I realized my work was paying off. I was offered a full-time job with benefits coaching, but instead took a leap towards pursuing my career goals. I took an internship with a local news outlet, that turned into a full-time job as a news and sports MMJ/anchor. That job was my first full-time job in reporting.
2 First TV job
The next step was landing my first job on television. One of my goals for a stepping stone in the path for my career goals was to land an on-air tv job. I reaffirmed that I could work in reporting and that I was continuing to move forward in my career.
3 Getting into professional sport
My third big accomplishment was another career goal of mine, getting into professional sports. That moment came in May of 2019 when after just a few years in the industry I was hired to work with Fox Sports covering the Washington Mystics and Wizards. I was working with Fox Sports in professional sports and ESPN plus in college sports.
4 Other key moments
Working on television covering professional sports in top networks globally, were goals I sought out to do from the start. These were huge moments for me where I felt like my hard work was paying off. These were moments where I realized I did the right thing when as a junior in college I believed in myself to aspire to pursue my dreams.
Throughout life and not just my career, I often felt like I was not on the right path, where I should have been, and that I was ‘behind’. Through these three successful leaps of faith, I realized that my path is my path. I have failed many more times than I succeeded, but each time I learned and grew. I matured to realize that I am where I am supposed to be in this chapter of my life and that my goals will work out in the time that is right for me.
Final Thoughts From Hayley
It was with tremendous pleasure that I put this interview with Sports Reporter Renee Washington together. Being a reporter is just like being an athlete. You need a strong drive and work ethic to excel in sport, just like sports reporting. Renee Washington recognizes that she learned her work ethic from being an athlete and that it now translates into her career as a sports reporter. From being a student-athlete to coaching, and now sports reporting, Renee Washington shows that if you apply a strong work ethic to your career, you can achieve anything you put your mind to within the sport industry.