SportsCenter’s Linda Cohn Shares Her Words of Wisdom
Written By: Blake Pinto SportsCenter’s Linda Cohn
Linda Cohn didn’t just break through the glass ceiling for women in sports casting—she absolutely demolished it—and left men picking up the pieces. After recently anchoring her 5, 000th episode for ESPN’s SportsCenter, she has now anchored more SportsCenter segments than anyone in history, man or woman. During a recent visit to Orange County, she was busy mentoring young admirers, choosing a winner for her SuperFan contest and helping to emcee the Lady Ducks Fashion Show, but still found time to sit down with us for a quick chat.
Q: You just anchored your 5, 000th episode, the most in SportsCenter history. Now that you have had some time to reflect on it, what does that number mean to you?
Linda Cohn: Not that I’m a professional athlete, but now I know how they feel when they reach a tremendous milestone and say to themselves, “I’m not going to think about it until I call it quits.” That is sort of how I think about it. I just went about my business doing what I do and loving what I do, and then they added it up, took out a calculator and said I did the most ever. The great thing about ESPN is when they have a great cause, they completely wrap themselves around it, and that 5, 000th show was amazing for me.
Q: You’ve been doing this for over 23 years, how have you lasted so long?
LC: It’s cause I keep it fresh. It’s not choreographed. I never did my sports casts choreographed and wasn’t big on catch phrases. To me, that was always rehearsed. I was always about just winging it, going with what sports is about and making it about the game, the player and the team. I don’t make it about myself.
Q: Did you ever see yourself doing traditional news broadcasting, or did you always want to do sports?
LC: You know, I thought about that, because back in the day there weren’t opportunities for women to do sports right? My first ever job was a radio newscaster at a Long Island radio station, and I thought I was going to resign myself to a life of news casting. Then, they always noticed when I did my five minute news cast that when I got to sports my voice would perk up. People started to notice that, and then I started volunteering to cover sports. The ironic part was they covered the New York Islanders and I hated the Islanders growing up because they were the rivals of my Rangers, but I realized: Hey, career first!
Q: What words of wisdom to you have for the next generation trying to break through in their careers?
LC: Make your luck happen, you know? No one is going to give you anything. And you have to do it without knowing you’re going to get any reward. I didn’t know I was going to get anything out of it if I volunteered to cover the Islander games. You put yourself in a position to be lucky, that’s what I always say.
Q: You were basically a woman in a man’s world anchoring sports, how did that affect you?
LC: If I didn’t used to play hockey with the boys, who knows if I would have had the tough skin to do what I do. That was big. That made me tougher to handle the looks of “what’s that girl doing playing with the boys” and it’s really crazy, and I’ll always remember the coach that took a chance on me to make me part of the boys team my senior year. I told him, “I won’t let you down.” It’s funny that phrase kept coming back as I got into broadcasting to the male bosses who took a chance on me, to hire me in a man’s world.
Q: What is your favorite thing to do when you come out to Orange County?
LC: You know, my brother lives in Newport Coast, but the first place was Newport Beach. So I go to my comfort zone. Either Newport Beach or Laguna Beach; those two, I know exactly how to get there. So, those I love. I love it. I love the sunsets and I love the sunrises, and they don’t look like any place else.
Q: You have two years left on your ESPN contract, what’s next?
LC: I don’t know, I don’t know. Who knows? I don’t know if I’ll still be there at ESPN after, I don’t know if I want to be. So, I don’t know. I can’t plan anything, let’s see how it happens.
One of the Boys: Linda used to play hockey with the boys her senior year. “That made me tougher to handle the looks of ‘what’s that girl doing playing with the boys’ and it’s really crazy, and I’ll always remember the coach that took a chance on me to make me part of the boys team my senior year, ” she says.
OC Faves: Linda’s favorite places to go in Orange County are Newport Beach and Laguna Beach because they’re so familiar to her.