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Female Disruptors: TV Anchor Erin Coscarelli On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Erin Coscarelli.

Erin Coscarelli is one of the most sought-after female broadcasters on television today. She currently pulls double duty hosting for the Las Vegas Raiders as well as Tennis Channel. She recently served as a correspondent for “The Ultimate Surfer” on ABC working alongside surf legend Kelly Slater, hosted “The Fantasy Zone” for DirecTV as well as a morning show on NFL Network, and has over the course of her career covered the Super Bowl, Professional Bull Riding, and everything in between, including Summer X Games, the World Series of Poker, Major League Baseball and Motocross working for networks like NBC Sports, ESPN and Fox Sports.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I grew up a tomboy with two older brothers and I played every sport I could cram into a season — volleyball, basketball, soccer, softball, track and field. My poor parents drove me all over town. I think the joy of playing such a wide variety of sports gave me insight into the mindset of an athlete. I loved playing sports but what drew me into a career in sports broadcasting was the depth of telling the story beyond just the athlete’s jersey. I always gravitated to the human element over the stats and accolades. Who was this athlete underneath the helmet? Sure, we want to root for the team we have the allegiance to, but I think the fan also yearns to understand the players on a deeper level. What drives them? How do they get through the slumps and struggles of being an athlete? The game is so mental…it transcends sports and hits deep into our own personal lives. I think the fan at home wants to understand that better. I know I do.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Questioning the norm. Looking at how we’ve “always done things.” Asking questions like, “Is this really the best way to do it for EVERYONE?” And if not, can we work together to confront it, speak up for ourselves and seek change for the betterment of the collective? I think any time we can peel back a layer in any industry and introduce more awareness to someone’s personal experience with truth and vulnerability, we begin to invite more transparency, openness and understanding. For me, being a woman in the sports broadcasting industry is exhilarating, stress-inducing, and passion-filled — and I wouldn’t change a thing about the home runs and strikeouts I’ve had along the way. If my story makes a female in my industry feel less alone…then I’ve succeeded. That’s my work. Being more vulnerable about my own struggles, because at the end of the day we all deserve to feel like we’re not alone.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I first started out, I was needing to get “reps.” An amazing opportunity came to me to cover Pro Bull Riding for NBC Sports. Growing up as an LA native, I was a fish out of water for this, but boy, what a cool sport — and even cooler athletes to get to report on as I was learning the ropes of broadcasting. There was this one show in particular that taught me a valuable lesson during a live hit. As I got up close and personal to a bull that was about to be released from the chute, my producer began counting down “5… 4… 3… 2…” and as he counted to 1, the bull bucked with a flying smattering of poop landing right on my sweater. Needless to say, I learned the show must go on, even with bull crap all over you. I still laugh about it to this day. Shit happens. What can you do? Just keep going.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Growing up, I wish I had more female mentors. I had a lot of really impactful male mentors help guide me. One in particular very early in my career was Mike Colangelo from ESPN. Max Casanova is another name that sticks out because both gentlemen really believed in me. They gave me chances even when I, myself, felt I didn’t deserve them. I think a great mentor and producer is encouraging, supportive, and understands the difference between a lack of experience and a lack of potential. I’m thankful I was given the chance to keep taking those reps and gaining that experience.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

I think it’s so helpful to reanalyze “what is” with the hopes of making things better by taking a deeper look at how things are. For instance, in the sports industry you are seeing so many more women on TV. The audience wants representation on their screen. It’s boring when it’s a panel of all men…we want diversity, we want inclusivity, we want someone who looks like us to allow for a deeper, more meaningful conversation that we can connect with. Disrupting the norm is great if there is real authenticity and passion behind it. To disrupt just to disrupt feels targeted with no real interest in “moving the ball forward,” if you will. To want to make things better, to genuinely want to see growth in a space that feels outdated or antiquated, I think that’s when it’s positive. When you can say, “Yes, maybe there is an opportunity for improvement.”

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

“You are how you treat the people who can’t do anything for you.” What that means to me is to be kind to everyone, not just the boss. People are always watching how you treat others. I want to see how you treat the crew, the intern and the parking attendant. I was an intern. Still to this day, I remember those who treated me kindly and those who barked orders for me to get them an Egg McMuffin (no joke!). Be kind and treat everyone with respect.

Another is to “prioritize you.” This industry is always about making everyone else around you comfortable. I didn’t speak up in the early days of my career. I said “yes” way too often out of fear. I understand you need to start your career with jobs that probably pay less, work crummy hours, and work weekends, holidays and overnight shifts. I think that’s an opportunity to put in the extra elbow grease so that you can learn more about the ins and outs of the biz. That way you get to decide if this is a job you even want to sacrifice those weekends for.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

I’m nowhere near being done. My plan is to continue to inspire other women (and men) and convince them that they’re not alone as we’ve all been navigating a very challenging time in our lives. Everyone has a story to tell and I’m ready to listen.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

Women are often initially judged by our appearance, well before anything comes out of our mouth. If I mispronounce an athlete’s name or get a stat incorrect, popular thought will think I don’t know what I’m talking about, whereas my male counterpart is “forgiven” more easily. I think we are judged differently when we ask for a pay increase or just simply speak up about a boundary. In the past I was terrified of speaking up for myself or even just confronting conflict and I am beginning to see that it was just me trying to conform to societal norms. Even if we disagree, being open to civil and honest conversation is not only necessary, but our younger generation is also watching and learning from us. If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your niece or nephew, or for your kids. I know I’m in a safe and mature working environment when I’m invited to speak up. When my voice and opinions are prioritized. I’m grateful to the men who mandate that in a work environment.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

Historically, women have been afraid to disrupt. We’re afraid to be considered “difficult” or high maintenance. I think that is starting to become old news now. We are progressing forward as we prioritize the comfort of everyone in the workplace. It takes more women like myself, Joy Taylor, Alex Curry — just to name a few — that aren’t afraid to speak up and ask for awareness around the workplace. I’m constantly inspired by the women in my industry. A win for her is a win for us.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

My goal for this year was to find inner peace. I think the way to do that is by being more comfortable in your own skin. Authenticity cannot be overlooked. The thing that scares you the most (for me it was the fear of being disliked) should be the very thing you need to work on. Listen, I love my job, I love connecting with people. I love telling and hearing inspiring stories…but the biggest quest will always be: Why are you doing all of this? Who are you working so hard for? Are you doing it because you love it or to prove something to others? Once I surrendered the need to be liked (and btw, I’m still a work-in-progress), I started to become WAY more confident with who I wanted to work with, whose energy I wanted around me. I can’t tell you how much more enjoyable work and life started to become. You begin attracting a new attitude of people in your life. This idea of exclusion, mean-girl B.S., that’s such a tired and boring narrative.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My dad used to say, “It could always be worse.” I appreciate that quote still to this day. When we can be in control of our own perspective, we control the energy and time we give to things. If we’re constantly the “victim,” we can’t take ownership or be accountable to make things better. Our reaction to things is the only control we have in this life. The mind can contrive funny stories we want to believe about ourselves. We can choose to view crappy situations as opportunities to grow and amazing things as moments to celebrate. At least this is what I’m trying to work on. Like I said, I’m a work in progress and I’m okay with that these days.

How can our readers follow you online?

Follow me on social media at @erincoscarelli.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.