Women who dream of being given the opportunity to work in the sports industry may experience many challenges throughout their career, but maintaining those positions is also a challenge. Missi Matthews, lifelong resident of Western, Pennsylvania has done everything and anything she can to strive as a television/radio host, storyteller and sideline reporter for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Her love for sports truly inspired her to follow her dreams of having a career in the sports industry. “I grew up in a sports-loving family which was extremely fun. I was a competitive dancer for most of my childhood so I had some unique experiences and got to travel a lot for various competitions. I think being able to connect with judges and learning from an early age how to have a conversation with adults really helped me in my career,” Matthews said.
She credits her love for sports to have come mostly from her dad’s influence, but also her entire family including her “grandma, aunts, uncles and cousins” as it was a part of growing up. Matthews noted that Pitt games were where she saw a lot of family outside of holidays and parties.
Matthews had attended the University of Pittsburgh from, 2003 to 2006 where she majored in Media Communications.
She appreciates the people she met in college who helped her pave a path in sports, “In college, I was lucky to meet some amazing people that helped me figure out what industry I wanted to work in. I always knew I wanted to be involved in sports, but never thought broadcasting was an option until I started interning and getting experience through Pitt’s Athletic Department. I had amazing professors who challenged me and got “real-life experience” at WTAE-TV and FSN Pittsburgh (now known as AT&T Sports Network).”
Her career in the sports industry started when she worked in Johnstown, Pennsylvania with WJAC-TV, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with FOX43-TV, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with WTAE-TV.
In 2012, Matthews started her career with the Steelers, where she was a team reporter interviewing players and head coach Mike Tomlin. Her role with the Steelers has changed tremendously since then because now she has “added on additional responsibilities over time - in-game hosting, sideline reporting (TV and then radio), etc.”
One interesting thing about Matthews that I learned during my interview with her was that she is an Emmy awarding-winning journalist. Attributing to her award she states, “it was actually for a piece where I was helping to produce. It was a group effort which made it special as well.”
A Typical Week into Matthews’s Life
Matthews explained that “during football season, a week is structured and consistent because that’s how teams are.”
Mondays - Post-game coverage for previous game (on Sunday)
Tuesdays - Coach Tomlin speaks
Wednesdays-Fridays - Practice and player availability
Saturdays - Travel day (if away)
Sundays - Gameday (almost always)
When Matthews isn’t on the sidelines reporting at Acrisure Stadium (formerly known as Heinz Field) she is spending time with her family and friends. “I love spending time with family and friends and doing Pure Barre. Now that my boys are getting older and more involved in sports, I get to be a fan and cheer them and their various teams on,” Matthews said.
As Matthews grew into her career, she faced some logistical challenges such as becoming a mom while working in sports because she is not working in a typical 9-5 office job. She mentioned that it is the same for males in the profession as well.
Trenni Kusnierek and Sally Wiggin, who have covered sports in the Pittsburgh market, are two mentors and females who Matthews has looked up to since given the opportunity to see them both during two of her internships: “They always carried themselves so well, were really good at their jobs, and respected by their male co-workers so I quickly took note of how they do things.”
Matthews feels that it is really cool that the sports profession for women has greatly changed since her time in college because it's not uncommon to see women covering sports now. Going along with that, Matthews sees women in sports hopefully “continuing to move full speed ahead and no longer be seen as outsiders” five to ten years from now.
Making sure you network is the number one piece of advice Matthews will give any female wanting to pursue a career in sports, “Network as much as possible and find another female friend or group of females to have in your corner for the good and bad times.”
To wrap up my interview with Matthews I wanted to know what has been her favorite memory while working with the Steelers. Her favorite memory includes her favorite player she’s interviewed, which is Troy Polamalu. “One of my favorite memories in sports is getting to interview him minutes after he found out he was going to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Matthews said.
Edited by: Kaya Crawford