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Articles added: July 1, 2009

Femmefan Exclusive Interview with Courtney George
By Valerie J. Wood

Courtney George's typical week is about as fast-paced as the NASCAR racing she covers for SpeedChannel. This dynamic young woman brings a fresh, sharp intensity to sports-reporting and is a tremendously talented, focused, savvy and dedicated professional. Recently, she graciously slowed down long enough to talk to FemmeFan in-depth about her accelerating career as a sports-reporter and what it was like growing up as the daughter of a professional football player in the NFL and Canadian Football League (CFL).

A native of Columbus, Ohio, Courtney traveled quite a bit as a youngster because of her father's profession. She credits that with making her so outgoing, since there was a lot of moving between different States and Provinces in the USA and Canada, meeting new people, and making friends and learning at a variety of schools. A graduate of the Ohio State University, Courtney received her B.A. in Communication. Her accomplishments already include becoming the second ever female main sports anchor/sports director in Florida, working as a regional college sideline reporter for the Fox Network, working as a weekend sports anchor/reporter in Albany, NY, and working as an anchor/reporter in Macon, GA. She has also been honored for excellence in broadcasting by the International Executive Guild of NY. Courtney now resides in Charlotte, NC, the heart of NASCAR country. Single, she shares her home with three Bengal cats and she loves animals of all kinds.

The daughter of CFL Hall of Famer Ed George (a 6'5" offensive lineman), Courtney is also the grand-daughter of the CFL's legendary Ralph Toohy. With a genetic heritage like, that, Courtney's 6'1" height is really not that surprising. She has found that NASCAR fans in particular take note of her being tall-particularly since the bulk of the current drivers are so, well, short. However, the drivers certainly take it in good stride when she interviews them, and have even told her to "be proud and stand up tall" when she is interviewing them. On a recent feature for NASCAR Nation, Courtney visited with driver David Stremme and learned to drive go-carts. She had never done so before and, prior to her 'driving lesson' David insisted she stand beside the minimum height measure "Over 60-Inches Tall" sign on the air. Her current assignments are more in line with entertainment instead of hard-core sportscasting, but she has found the work to be a lot of fun and it allows her to get to know the drivers and crews on a more personal basis-seeing them as individuals and not just drivers.

Courtney graciously answered some questions for Femmefan, and discussed her career, plans for the future, and what it's like to be a sports reporter in racing.

What do you think is the hardest obstacle facing a woman who wants a career in sports reporting? What advice would you give a young woman who wants to pursue a career in sports reporting?

The hardest thing for me will be and has always been my height. I am 6'1 and I have played volleyball and basketball all my life. I work out and lift weights daily. Not being a "stick thin" reporter, my size is a bit of an issue and probably always will be. Since I'm not the reporter you can hire as eye candy, I have to be able to backup my statements and I have to know what I am talking about because I am not the stereotypical sideline/pit reporter girl.

I hope I can help the younger generation see that you can be healthy and athletic and not anorexic and still be a success on TV - and you can be over 6 feet tall.
When I was working in football, my height was not as obvious. The men on average are much larger in the NFL. NASCAR drivers tend to be shorter than 6 feet and so my height has been a topic of conversation for fans. Thankfully, the drivers have been great about it, joking and teasing me but always supporting me at the same time. In that regard, it is more of an issue for fans watching at home when I suddenly appear larger than life towering over a interview subject who just happens to be 5 or 6 inches shorter than I am.

We talked about growing up in a pro sports family and role models. Courtney reflected on her early childhood and her family.

My mother died when I was just 21. She was my best friend and my support. It's something I never completely got over. I'm not sure anyone ever does. Working helps keep me focused and busy. After her loss, I threw myself into internships and college, and then job after job... My career is now my rock. My father is an amazing man who has helped me in more ways then I can count. He is very supportive of my job choices but is not a "daddy" type person. He was the law and the order. He taught me how to compete, how to be tough and aggressive and how to you ultimately make the bed you sleep in - how everyone needs to clean up there own messes, fight their own battles and nothing is worth having, if you did not work very hard to get it. Being an only child, it was just me and my dad after my mom died and that has always been tough, wishing she could see what I am doing and knowing she's not there for some things has made them harder. My father is independent and reliant on self-strength, sort of a tough love kind of father. I know he is there for me, and if I really need him, he will be in my corner. My dad has remarried to a wonderful woman and they are enjoying retirement.

Who has influenced you the most, as a role model?

My mother and Suzy Kolbert. Both were strong independent women. Suzy and Hanna Storm were the first females that, in my eyes, were normal not tiny and perfect. Real women and not 'models.' They are beautiful, intelligent, and smart women. They could hold there own in the male dominated world in which they lived and worked. I have always wanted to be perceived in the way that I looked up to them when I was growing up.

When did you decide you wanted to make sports and reporting your career?

As soon as I knew what a 'career' was, I wanted to either play or cover sports. I've never wavered and never had a second choice for a job. For me, it was all or nothing. Kind of like in my family - if you did not play pro, well you covered it. The two generations before me were boys, and both played pro ball. So, when it came to me, it was only natural to cover sports. I always felt more at home on a football field then in a living room, or anywhere else, for that matter.

Have you felt you've had to overcome hurdles in getting ahead in reporting because sports are male-dominated?

Not in regard to football, because of my family and the men I grew up around. Many now work at ESPN or coach in the NFL. In that regard, I had almost a kind of inherited respect, or maybe I should say an "expected knowledge base." Now that I am covering NASCAR, it has been a bit different. In some ways it has been tough because the fans are knowledgeable and not as accepting to newcomers. They expect you to earn your yellow rookie stripe. I am trying my best to do so, but it has certainly been a different reception. It has been a good "wakeup call." I knew it would be tough and that the fans might be harder on an outsider without a strong NASCAR base, coming in at a national show level, so I tudy every week and work extra hard to try and do my best. I will say I did not study this hard even in college! But it is all worth it. I love the sport and the people involved. I respect the fans for demanding so much from their sportscasters!

Who has been instrumental in helping you with your career, by giving you a break or good advice?

I was very honored to have worked with Jerry Glanville and Bob Picozzi when I was a college football TV sideline reporter. Those two men taught me more than I can ever thank them for. They are total class acts and left unforgettable impressions on me. In particular, Bob was the most honest and down to earth men I had ever worked with. He bent over backwards to help the new kid (me) out, lending an ear when I needed it and telling me things I needed to know. I will always be grateful for the time I got to work with both of these men.

And, Rick Miner gave me my first chance on SpeedChannel. I think he saw something in me and took the chance. He was the man who gave me my first national opportunity and who always let me know where I stood - and still stand - to this day. He is another diamond in the rough, as they say. Men like these are rare in the media field. They are totally honest and sincere and have timeless class. I can never thank these three men for helping me get to where I am, and I am still just beginning my climb.

What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?

I would love to still be working with SPEED doing NASCAR coverage, and I would also like to venture back onto sidelines and return to College football or even the NFL, in the racing off season. I love what I get to do for a living, and could never imagine not doing it. I feel very blessed.

Perhaps a little personal information? Are you currently seeing anyone special?

I am not seeing anyone; I am married to my job and always have been. Due to my travel schedule I don't date much, but would love to one day meet the right guy. For now, though, I am very content with my career as being my 'other half.' I would never date a professional athlete that I was covering, or would have a reason to cover. I do not believe in mixing career and personal life.

What does Courtney George do for fun/relaxation? Are you a tekkie person?

I workout - run, bike, and life weights. Weight-lifting is my main stress release, and I can spend hours in the gym doing that. I like crafts, decorating, movies, travel and dancing. I love to dance. One day hope to learn how to cook, but for now the microwave or ordering in (food) works for me! And you know that I have cats and love animals.

I love my laptop and all my toys attached! It goes everywhere with me. In college, I took web design classes. I like to design homes with an AutoCAD-type program I have. I don't own a home yet, but one day hope to so I work on my perfect house in my spare time - or when I'm stuck at the airport in a long layover. I don't have much time for movies or reading with my schedule, but I did just finish The DaVinci Code. I actually like true crime stories. I tend to read those when I get a chance. Most of the time, I am reading race reports and or releases from race teams. It's all work reading during the racing season! As you might suspect, I am a huge Law and Order, CSI, and Crossing Jordan fan. I watch Law and Order reruns on the road in hotels. I can always find that on TNT it seems! And, I love music, particularly country.

Do you think women are being taken seriously, at last, as drivers in NASCAR?

I think that NASCAR is very non gender specific on the actual track. I really think if a woman can drive, she can drive and the other male drivers don't see her gender. Maybe the fans do, but from my experience in the pits and in the garage the guys really don't look at that as an issue, which I have always thought was great.

Besides covering NASCAR for Speed TV, do you have any other immediate plans in sports reporting?

SPEED (SpeedChannel) is my focus and my priority. Working on NASCAR Nation is first and foremost for me. Perhaps if I can be on the football sidelines in the off season, that would be super, but SPEED is my number one concern and right now they're getting my primary focus and full attention. NASCAR racing is an incredibly exciting, fun sport and I appreciate the opportunity to work in providing sports coverage and features for SpeedChannel.

Thank you Courtney, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with us! Our readers will enjoy getting to know you a bit!

It is obvious that in Courtney George, SpeedChannel easily has the 'best and the brightest' in their fold. We look forward to watching her career progress. It is exciting and refreshing to see such a candid, responsive, and capable young woman paving the way for women in serious sports reporting and coverage. Courtney is already extremely knowledgeable about NASCAR racing, and it is obvious that she has a passion for this sport, as well as others. Someday, we will see another young woman coming up in the ranks of sports reporting and when asked about her role models, she will say "Courtney George inspired me because I watched her when I was a kid and I wanted to be a sports reporter just like her."

In Courtney, SpeedChannel definitely has a genuine diamond. In diamonds, there are the famous four factors in determining value. As they say, you look for the 4 "C's" - carat, cut, clarity and color. Perhaps that should now be amended to 5 "C's" because in Courtney, SpeedChannel has found a spectacular gem in the person of this outgoing, vivacious, personable and outstanding sports reporter.

For information on Valerie Wood 's novel, Enforcer, visit www.geocities.com/linkgaetz23/enforcer.htm

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