Meet sports reporter and former professional golfer Hailey Hunter. She shares her transition to broadcasting and work mentality during the Covid-19 pandemic!
Sam: Thank you so much for taking part, let’s dive right into it. How did you start getting involved with golf?
Hailey Hunter: Yeah! I come from a very athletic background. My dad is from Canada and played professional hockey for the Pittsburgh Penguins. And since a lot of hockey players tend to be good golfers, my dad played golf too! So, he was the one that brought my twin brother Reed and I into golf. Then when I was nine years old, my dad asked me to play in a junior golf tournament near our home and after that, the rest was history. I went on to play golf competitively, traveling all over with my brother for tournaments. Fortunately, I became good enough to get a scholarship and play DI at Ohio!
Sam: What was your experience like trying to play golf professionally?
Hailey Hunter: So, I had to make a decision if I wanted to go right into sports broadcasting or try to play professionally. And since I had such a good senior season, I felt like I should at least give it a try. Therefore, I moved down to Tampa and later went to qualifying school in Palm Springs, California. It was there I realized just how much talent there is, playing with people from all over the world that I decided I wanted a little more of a social lifestyle. Especially because I had went from a team setting in college to traveling by myself and doing everything alone which I didn't like. So, I started interning for the LPGA Tour and worked my way up from there.
Sam: So, how did the transition to Jackson, Mississippi for sports broadcasting happen?
Hailey Hunter: I had already been working with the LPGA, and a little bit of the PGA Tour too. But, the problem was only about thirty percent of my job was on camera, and to really make it far in my career, I needed more consistent reps on air. A lot of my mentors had been suggesting to go the local sports route. Therefore, I decided to come to Mississippi, since the SEC is there and I could cover football. It has definitely been the right decision, because I'm getting a lot of good opportunities!
Sam: How did you adjust to the move during Covid-19?
Hailey Hunter: Basically when I moved here, it was two weeks before Covid-19 hit. Then after hearing all the cancellations, it became one of the hardest moments of my life. I had literally moved here and dropped everything to report on sports. However, Covid shut down sports for about five to six months, and I was still required to come up with a local sports feature every single day for my job. It was really hard, but I did it!
Sam: What did you do to meet your goals and schedule interviews at the time?
Hailey Hunter: I always write down my goals and how I will meet them. So, I basically had to take a different route to meet those goals. I had to change my mindset on how to approach getting these interviews with players. Every single week, I had a list for what I could do. As crappy as a situation is, there is something that I could be doing to better myself. So, one of those things was studying SEC football and preparing myself for a potential season. It was all about doing what I could given the circumstances around me.
Sam: When you started to get on camera more, did you have any bad moments that you had to work through?
Hailey Hunter: Yeah, I came here (Jackson, Mississippi) because I knew I needed to fine tune my skillset. I also knew I had the potential, but definitely wasn’t there yet. My first two times on camera were not good, and I cringe watching it now. It’s just like starting out in sports where no one is good at anything their first time. However, once I got more reps, it has been really cool to watch myself grow. Because, like I said before, I was so nervous the first two times and you could see it on camera!
Sam: Did you spend time critiquing yourself or just continue practicing to get better?
Hailey Hunter: I found a talent coach in Jill Montgomery. She is a highly successful ESPN broadcaster and had opened a company for talent coaching. She is extremely tough and rips you apart like a coach which has been so good for me. She's basically taught me the ins and outs and we meet every other week to critique my content.
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Disclaimer: All Photos Provided Courtesy & Authorized by Hailey Hunter. Potential minor edits for transcript's length, flow, grammatical/formatting.
NEXT: If you enjoyed this, please read our interview with Attorney Pamela Flanagan