Before every Washington Redskins game Comcast Sports Net’s (www.comcastsportsnet.com) Kelli Johnson has the story. After each game, she gets the pertinent interviews, asking the tough questions. She is truly the quintessential beat reporter. Also an anchor on “Sports Rise” and “Sports Night,” Johnson, a former four-year, all-conference academic starter on the University of Idaho’s women’s basketball team, went into journalism because of her passion for sports. And that comes through in her reporting.
As a decorated former collegiate athlete, sports reporter Kelli Johnson knows how to get the postgame lowdown from players like Redskins safety Sean Taylor.
C-VILLE: Where did you first realize you wanted to pursue sports reporting?
Kelli Johnson: I kind of stumbled into it. I knew I wanted to be involved in sports somehow.
My cousin is a news anchor up in the Seattle area and her husband is a reporter as well, and I ended up getting an internship up in Seattle at one of the TV stations in their sports department and just loved it. I did it for a summer and worked out at the University of Washington. The next year, I did an internship at the NBC affiliate covering, doing things every night, around the postgame of the Mariners, doing some stuff with the Seahawks. It just seemed like a great way to still be around the game.
Did you ever consider trying to play basketball at the next level?
Actually my senior year, I had a resumé tape for basketball and a resumé tape
So I was sending tapes out around the league and had some invites to come try out with a number of teams.
Then I got my first job offer in TV a month after I graduated, so it was TV. I was always told the first job in TV is the toughest to get, so when you get that opportunity, you kind of got to grab it. I went with it, but sometimes I regret not playing basketball a little bit longer.
You grew up in Idaho where there are no pro sports teams. Who was your team?
My favorite baseball team growing up was the St. Louis Cardinals, and Ozzie Smith, my all-time favorite player. When you’re a little kid and you see a shortstop go out and do the flips onto the field, you kind of get drawn to that, and I became a fan of the Cardinals and Whitey [Herzog] Ball.
What’s the single sporting event that you want to cover but haven’t?
So I guess I’d have to say the Super Bowl. I last covered the Rams when they went to the Super Bowl the second time around, but I didn’t actually get to go to New Orleans with the team. I was the “fortunate” member of our staff that had to stay back and hold the fort down, so I think it would be covering the Super Bowl.
Wes McElroy hosts “The Final Round” on ESPN 840 Monday-Friday 3pm-5pm.