By Ra Dreyfus
When you see Brittany Held she look like a basic girl from Los Angeles. Blonde hair, green eyes, about 5-foot-5 in height, with a smile to make most celebrities jealous. What you can’t see are the 150,000 miles she’s traveled for soccer. What you don’t know is she spent over 120,000 minutes training, and probably gave up 681 slices of delicious cheese pizza because she took her sport so seriously. Brittany Held is more than a pretty face; she is an athlete and humanitarian with a message for young girls and women in sports.
Brittany had the opportunity to score game-winning goals while seeing the world. Soccer taught her so many things. It taught her what hard work and hustle will get you. It taught her if you fall seven times, you get up eight. It taught her to be a role model. In Brittany’s mind soccer was forever; she planned to reign with the best and she was good enough to get there. But after two knee surgeries, she decided to hang up the cleats. Her newfound calling? She was going to tell stories and inspire women all over the world in a different way.
I recently sat down with Brittany and talked about her new career path, landing a job at FOX Sports West right out of college and how she sees the future for women in sports.
Ra Dreyfus: Two months after graduating from Oregon State University, you landed a job with FOX Sports West in Los Angeles. Do you consider yourself lucky?
Brittany Held: That’s funny you say that. I don’t really believe in luck per se; I have this saying that originated with golfer Gary Player, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” I believe in that. I am very grateful, though, to have been chosen to join the FSWest team right out of school. My boss believed in my ability and saw my potential.
Do you feel like being an athlete has helped you communicate with athletes as a reporter?
Absolutely, 100 percent. But there are also times where my athlete mentality takes over and doesn’t want to ask certain questions because I know what’s on the other side in their response. So in part, it challenges me to ask better questions and be more creative.
What is it about telling athletes’ stories that intrigued you?
My journey as an athlete was far from perfect but I would love to see one that is. There’s something beautiful in the struggle. And that is what drives me now. Every story is different and deserves a platform to be heard. My journey as an athlete has placed me in the perfect position to tell those stories.
What motivates you?
For awhile I had a hard time swallowing the fact that I had not fulfilled my vision of becoming a professional soccer player. I felt like I had failed myself. Then I found myself again in the same place I had started – sports. I think motivation and passion go hand-in-hand. What you are passionate about should motivate you to be your best. I love what I do. I want to learn from the best and be great. If you have confidence in knowing you are right where you are supposed to be, eventually, everything falls into place.
What’s the best advice you were ever given?
That’s a good, tough question. I would say, “Enjoy the ride.” It’s simple, but it really reminds you to take it all in. Sometimes I get so caught up in making it to the top, I forget to breathe and give myself a tiny bit of credit for the things that I have already accomplished. It’s in the journey, not so much the final destination.
As a reporter, what’s your mindset every time you do an interview or ask a question?
It varies depending on the situation and the athlete. But overall my goal as a reporter is to be the medium between the fans and the athlete. When I finish an interview or ask a question, I want the viewer to come away feeling knowledgeable, feeling like they learned something new.
At this point in your career, what goals have you already accomplished?
I think I set a very high bar for myself and the pursuit to the top is never ending. I try to stay grateful and humble in each one of my endeavors. Each interview I remind myself how wonderful it is to be doing something that I, under no circumstance consider a job. I feel like I have the world left to conquer, yet at the same time I look back in the year since graduating college and I’ve been privileged enough to sit in rooms with some of the greats, including Kobe Bryant, Albert Pujols and Steven Gerrard.
Where do you see women in sports in let’s say, 10–20 years?
There have been some great strides made over the years in closing the gap between men and women in sports. Sara Thomas became the NFL’s first female official. There’s Becky Hammon who became the NBA’s first female full-time assistant and this summer became the first female summer league head coach in the history of the NBA. Cari Champion has her own podcast while Katie Nolan has her own show. I mean, it’s happening! I just hope as time moves forward the gap keeps getting smaller and smaller until there isn’t one. It’s a challenge but we’re facing it head on.
What does sports diversity mean to you?
It’s about everyone. This world is a melting pot. No two people are one and the same. Sports have always been the glue that unites all. Whether you speak the same language, come from the same city or even root for the same team, sports has the ability to bring all kinds together.
Photo by Ra Dreyfus
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