The best thing about life is its unpredictability. You never know what tomorrow will bring, which makes every day an adventure and explains why I plan very little in my life. I’ve learned that, unlike the A-Team led us to believe, plans rarely come together. I’ve also learned I have very little ability to predict with any sort of accuracy the way even my week will unfold, so I have given up trying. I find it more fun just to close my eyes, throw my hands over my head and go for the ride. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t tried.
If someone had asked me at 5 what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have told them a rodeo queen … and a writer.
Had they asked me at 10, I would have said an astronaut … and a writer.
And at 19? A sports agent (or trapeze artist) … and a writer.
Well, I predicted one thing correctly. (No, not the rodeo queen!) But the path I’ve followed and the incredible experiences I’ve had as a writer — those I never saw coming.
After graduating from the University of Florida with a degree in journalism, I moved to New York City to chase a career in magazine sportswriting. I spent two years as an editor and writer at American Cheerleader magazine and two years in the freelance world before landing a job as a copyeditor and writer at ESPN The Magazine. My first byline in The Mag was a 2002 story about an idea I coined to explain the bad luck that felled NFL players who graced the cover of the Madden series of video games: The Madden Curse.
Then, one day in 2003, an editor I’d never met walked up to my desk.
“I hear you like to snowboard,” he said. And so began my (full-time!) career at ESPN.
After two years as an editor and writer at our action sports website, EXPN.com, I joined ESPN The Magazine full time in 2005 and worked as an editor-slash-writer covering action sports, Olympic sports, the NFL and college football. In 2005, I wrote my first cover story for The Mag, on action sports icon Mat Hoffman, helped to launch EXPN Magazine and, in the spring of 2006, ESPN published my first book. In February 2008, I was promoted to senior writer and afforded the freedom to move to Southern California — or, as I call SoCal, Storybookland. I ordered additional pages for my passport.
Over the past 15 years, my story assignments have taken me to six continents, seven Olympics, Wimbledon, the US Open, Super Bowls, college football championships and more than 20 X Games around the world. They’ve guided me to mountaintops in Nepal, the sand dunes of the Sahara, surf breaks in Peru, backyard skateparks in Brazil, soccer stadiums in England, and into countless living rooms around the U.S.
In addition to writing features for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com and espnW, I joined the broadcast team at ESPN in 2010 and have since hosted X Games and action sports shows including X Center, SportsNation and World of X Games specials. I spent two seasons as the pit reporter for the Global RallyCross series and several years as a sideline reporter for X Games broadcasts and ESPN 3D’s college football games. I continue to appear on network shows including SportsCenter, GMA and Outside the Lines, often in conjunction with the stories I write.
In February 2018, I traveled to Pyeongchang, South Korea, to cover my seventh Olympics and wrote my 12th cover story for ESPN The Magazine, on snowboard phenom and eventual Olympic gold medalist Chloe Kim.
It’s been a wild ride and I don’t plan to jump off any time soon. I’m having way too much fun up here.