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Queen of Pittsburgh: Hannah Mears

Women have continued to make their mark in a particularly male-dominated industry and it is important to highlight them as they succeed in their journey.

Courtesy of Hannah Mears (Instagram)

With that being said, I had an incredible opportunity to interview the remarkably talented and hard-working Hannah Mears. As I talked with her over zoom she shared her experiences with working in Pittsburgh, a successful sports city, and I thought it would be awesome to share with you all!

Growing up in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, she had easy access to early sports broadcasting opportunities via the Pittsburgh Steelers training camps held at Saint Vincent College.

She shadowed people from Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) during a ‘Friday Night Lights’ special. Her love for sports grew as she was always involved in playing soccer, basketball and track and she considers herself to have a “sports-oriented family”.

Before she started college, she had plans to go into the medical field, but her first broadcasting stint during her childhood allowed her to see the potential future she could have in sports media.

Mears shared, “I think I was just always drawn to the sports world. Then loving public speaking and reading, writing classes. I think it was like the perfect blend for me of wanting to do that and I have always been somebody who is outspoken and has a big personality so it allows me a space to do that.”

Courtesy of Hannah Mears (Twitter)

Mears attended Pennsylvania State University where she studied broadcast journalism. She gained a lot of experience during her years in college as she got to do some sideline reporting work at Penn State Football games for “Beaver Stadium Extra”.

“I was covering essentially everything inside and around the game of football besides the game itself. So, when I was covering the whiteout, I was covering players that were coming back that are now in the NFL, special guests, fan events, all of that kind of stuff. Then it slowly just started to build from there into more of the video and production side of things (the behind the scenes stuff) and I got more experience with on camera and in arena hosting my entirety of Penn State which has been such a blessing,” Mears said.

Courtesy of Mark Selders (PSU)

Mears credits all of her later success like getting jobs straight out of college to her years at Penn State and the experiences she was provided by staff. “It really led me to where I am today. All of that amazing experience that I got at Penn State and actual relevant experience to be able to put a demo reel together, get jobs straight out of college was exactly what Penn State prepared me for so I am very thankful for that,” Mears said.

She currently works four jobs, mostly all in the Pittsburgh area, while balancing her personal life. She is an on-air talent for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Pittsburgh’s MLB team, a sideline reporter for the Big Ten Network, a sports producer for KDKA-TV and makes sports betting content for Picks and Parlays. Here and there she has done freelance work for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Courtesy of Hannah Mears (Instagram)

Talking with Mears, I learned that she feels very fortunate to have flexible jobs as she is able to work closer to home and her family. She notes that “not a lot of people get to do that or get to start out doing that so I feel very fortunate that’s where I am right now.”

Mears believes she found her purpose in life already even before the age of 25.

“Truthfully when I look at my career right now, I feel like I have found my purpose in life. I feel like I’m very fortunate to feel that way because there are so many people who are in their career field now who feel, I’m sure, that they're either loving what they do, or hating what they do and sometimes people don’t find it as quickly or as easily their passions so I don’t even consider what I do like work or a job. I’m living my absolute dream,” Mears said.

Courtesy of Hannah Mears (Instagram)
Courtesy of James Dotter
Courtesy of Hannah Mears

When I asked Mears how her days looked during a typical day in her life, she described it as “unpredictable”. “There’s always something going on within sports betting that I have to get done and, other than that, it is all over the board. It can be the day before I am finding out I have to go here or do this so I would definitely say a day in my life just plainly is unpredictable. It can be anything, it could be all the jobs, it could be one of the jobs, so it’s definitely crazy,” Mears said.

A typical day in Mears' life when all four jobs line up include her having to accomplish multiple tasks in a single day's work. The day that I chatted with her was one of those days as she mentioned “Today is a good example of that because I went and I had to organize all of my stuff for the Big Ten Network this week so whether that is going back and watching film or doing research or taking notes I am squeezing that into the day.”

Other tasks she normally would have to work on are “making sports betting picks for the day, going to the Pirates facility and shooting something for a recap video of a series that they just did for some social media content, do something for KDKA-TV that day and sports produce that evening.”

Asking Mears to list the women who she looked up to was somewhat challenging as there are multiple women in sports that she could say. Honorable mentions of the women in sports she particularly looks up to are sideliners Erin Andrews, who has tweeted back to Mears several times on Twitter, and Lisa Salters. Maria Taylor was someone who she watched and followed during college.

Mears credits the United States National women’s soccer team as her heroes because of the work they have done on and off the field: “There was so many incredible females out there to watch and that I have had a wonderful example of but I would definitely say the US Women’s soccer team is so freaking cool to look up to and then getting to see a lot of them transition into the media sphere but also get to see them stand up and actually make valid changes for women and women's rights.”

Courtesy of ABCNews

Throughout her career Mears has experienced a lot and made numerous memories in the things she’s done including big bucket list items. Those include covering Super Bowl LIV, covering Nittany Lion Football in one of the biggest games as her national television debut on Big Ten Network and covering an air show.

Here’s what she said when looking back at her favorite memories so far in her career.

Super Bowl LIV
Courtesy of Hannah Mears

“I would say my favorite memory associated with my career in sports and what I’ve gotten to do would definitely be getting to cover the Super Bowl. I think that was really cool just because that is a bucket list item to even go, to let alone cover and I got to do that through Penn State, so I would say that is one of them.” - Mears

Courtesy of Mark Selders (PSU)
National Television Debut

“Another one would be covering Penn State for the Big Ten Network as my first national tv debut was just so cool because it was like everything came full circle from getting to cover Penn State in one of the biggest games of the year with the SEC and being my first on-air debut on tv, getting to interview Coach James Franklin, who I grew up with essentially, and then getting to interview Sean Clifford who was a classmate of mine but now we are both at the pinnacles of our careers and that was a super cool moment” - Mears

Courtesy of Hannah Mears
Air Show

“My favorite broadcasting moment that I have gotten to do outside of sports was to cover an air show. Blue Angels, the Navy fighter pilots, come to Latrobe every other year. They do an air show and I actually got to ride in a Blue Angel fighter jet. It is a very rare thing some people get to do. There is a video of me on YouTube and it is crazy. I was like passing out the whole time but it was the most incredible experience and I have so many people ask me about that moment in particular and it was probably one of the coolest things, broadcasted, that I got to do!”

I wanted to hear Mears thoughts on what the women in sports will look like in 5-10 years from now. What she said was quite interesting and I agree with her.

“I would say being more prominent in the roles that are happening so being more analysts, doing more play-by-play, doing more color commentary, being the dominant voice for a lot of different things like when you see voices of sports teams a lot of it is men and I can see so many more women attacking and taking over that sphere. I just see women in sports growing and not just women in sports media, but women in sports in general,” Mears said.

She insists that NIL has helped a lot in the projection of women being in the sports world, especially with the different personalities in people being fans. Another thing she hopes will change in that time is equal pay distribution between men and women, “I think women will be taking over and be being treated fairly, but let’s just hope that in 5-10 years we see an equal pay distribution between men and women across the board as well because I know that is still happening but I think women will definitely have a prominent space in this world and I think watch out because they are going to be taking over for sure.”

Ending off this wonderful interview, I asked her for her biggest piece of advice for any female wanting to pursue their own career in the sports industry. She gave me a lot of key advice that I think everyone should take into consideration!

  1. “First and foremost, I always say be authentically yourself. We want authenticity and know that that’s enough because if you try to be like somebody else it will come off very fake.”

  2. “Be ready to work! I mean it is no walk in the park and you see people doing probably what you want to do one day, but it takes a lot of steps and sometimes you have to do the jobs you might not want to do.”

  3. “Be headstrong and have faith in yourself! There will be times you’re in your room crying yourself to sleep and wondering “what the heck am I doing?” but then there’s also going to be times where you’re like “this is the greatest moment of my life and I wouldn’t trade what I do for the world” so really have your head on straight.”

Courtesy of Hannah Mears

As the interview concluded Mears hopes “that women in sports keep continuing and supporting other women in sports and it is important to have each other's back and know that we’re all allies in this together and if you put your mind to it, you can do it.”

If you want to keep up with Mears as she continues making headlines everywhere, follow her Instagram, check out her personal YouTube and her LinkedIn!

Edited by: Kaya Crawford

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