Posted on 8/28/2017 |Featured Columns & Series
As a host for FOX Sports, Rachel Bonnetta is leading the way for women working in the sports industry and encouraging girls who are interested in pursuing sports careers to boldly pursue their dreams. Learn more about Rachel’s career and hopes for sports broadcasting.
Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up, go to school and how you made your way to FOX Sports?
I grew up in Ontario, Canada in a very, very small town called Orono. When I finished high school, I moved two hours away to Toronto, which is where I went to college for Broadcast Journalism. My very first job came when I was 20 years old and I actually won it in a contest. I know, it sounds weird. I won the Toronto FC dream job contest and from there I got noticed by Major League Soccer who offered me a job in New York. Within six months of working with MLS I had an offer to move out to Los Angeles to start working for Fox Sports. Everything happened pretty quickly over the span of a few years and here I am.
What sports did you play growing up? Why do you think being involved in sports is important for young girls?
I have been playing volleyball for over 14 years now. I started when I was 12 when I tried out for a team in the closest town to me that even owned a volleyball net and played all the way through college. Now that I live in California I still try to play once a week but now its beside the ocean instead of inside a stinky old gym.
I think that having sports in my life was incredibly important for me as a kid. Unfortunately, my dad got really sick when I was about 11 years old and volleyball was my escape - a way to get out of the house, hang out with friends, learn how to be confident, how to be a leader, how to be a part of a team, the list goes on. I think it’s incredibly important for young girls to be involved in sports because it is empowering for them. It shows them that they can accomplish something if they commit to it and they can improve if they practice hard. These are life lessons that I have carried on with me and have used throughout all different areas in my life.
You have continued to stay active well beyond your college years. Why do you feel this is important?
When I moved to New York, I was extremely lonely. I was homesick, didn’t have any friends and was really struggling. That’s when I took up running. I would run just about every day for 3 to 5 miles around New York and it really helped me get adjusted. It gave me something to keep my mind on, something to do and was a great way to feel healthy and stable because I had a routine. I could have easily just went back to an empty apartment every night feeling sorry for myself and missing my friends, but instead I decided to do something about it to build myself back up. Having a healthy, active routine, especially when I am as busy as I am, helps me stay centered. I travel and work so much that I need some “me time” to stay on my feet. If I wasn’t active, I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my schedule.
Was there one person in particular you looked up to as a child? If so, who was it and why?
I loved Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor. They are two women who played for Team USA in beach volleyball. I just thought it was so cool to be able to watch women playing the sport that I loved, inThe Olympics! Even though they weren’t playing for my country, they were so good and I wanted to be just like them one day.
You have had the opportunity to work both in the digital and broadcast space with both men and women in our industry. Do you see a rise in female involvement both on the viewership side and professional? What do you attribute this to?
I do! It’s moving a lot slower than I would like but the main thing is that it’s moving. I think it has a lot to do with the women that are on both sides of things, watching and covering sports, really supporting each other. I love to watch female analysts because I know there are younger girls out there watching too and thinking “Oh, I can do that?” and they grow up and that’s exactly what they become. One day it will be the norm to have male and female analysts, not just female hosts, but we all have to keep supporting one another and keep pushing each other until we get there.
As a female, do you take it upon yourself to help other women who work in sports or want to work in sports? If so, how?
Absolutely, I think that’s the way that we get to a place of equilibrium, both men and women covering sports equally. I try to help out any woman making their way to the top, whether it’s with advice or trying to get them a job and I have women doing the same for me. It always feels good to know that someone is in your corner and that’s something I will continue to do for as long as I’m in this industry.
What advice do you have for young girls who want to pursue careers in sports?
You can do it. Simple as that. YOU CAN. Don’t get down about the lack of women that you see on TV covering sports, use it as motivation. You want to be up there one day, so do it. There will be things that stand in your way, obstacles, but knock them all down. You’ve got people in your corner, know that.