Queen of the NHL: Emily Kaplan
I had an amazing experience where I got to interview the incredibly hard-working Emily Kaplan. As she shared her experiences with working in sports, I thought I would share them with you!
She has been working in sports since she graduated from college and this decision was something she has known she wanted to do for a while.
Kaplan shared, “I was a kid who was very singularly focused and I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and every decision honestly since senior year of high school on was catered to working in sports journalism.”
Out of college, Kaplan got a job at Sports Illustrated. She currently works for ESPN as an NHL Reporter where she does so many incredible things.
“I write for ESPN.com, I’ll get information that we can feed to our news desk or use for ‘The Point’ which is our studio show, I’m preparing for games and participating in games. I also do feature stories with players, kind of arranging to get access with them off the ice and build up their characters and storylines that way, so every day it feels like it is a new adventure but 90 percent of my energy I feel like is just getting myself to point A to point B because it's also a lot of travel,” Kaplan said.
Kaplan went to Penn State University where she studied journalism. She had a lot of internships and she even had her first ever beat writing experience with their men's volleyball team. She was a writer before she gave reporting a try.
“Just being a part of a live game broadcast, as close to the game as possible, I thought would be very neat,” Kaplan shared about trying out reporting.
When asked to describe working in sports in one word, Kaplan said “unpredictable.”
“I have a lot of friends who have typical Friday nine to five’s and I feel like with sports you have to be super adaptable. We’re always at crazy events, you never know what is going to happen.”
With the playoffs coming up shortly, Kaplan will most likely be on the road for two months straight. During the regular season, she is traveling around once or twice throughout the week. Having a day to rest isn’t always there with her busy schedule.
“An off-day is just again unpredictable, you never know what you are going to get.”
Kaplan is someone who is one of my role models in this industry and she has gotten to work with plenty of other incredible women making their mark on sports.
“Linda Cohn was someone I always looked up to since she was always talking about hockey on SportsCenter whenever she could and she was always so authentic and I thought that was so cool.”
Since she was a writer before, she not only looked up to the reporters but some of the journalists as well.
“The writers were really the people I looked up to like Jackie MacMullan. I was able to go on ‘Around the Horn’ with her which was a really unique opportunity. [She] was someone who I felt like guys all respected and she knew her shit so she was a role model for me,” she shared.
Kaplan works a lot with players especially when she does features on ESPN’s “The Point” where she gets to bring out the personality of the players in unique ways.
“You just see it in other sports the way that they really grow is through characters, you know I don’t think the NBA would have the popularity it has today if Michael Jordan didn't exist and Micheal Jordan wasn’t such a vivacious real human being with wants, needs, and desires, storyline arcs, drama, all of those things is why we all rooted for him and that really grew basketball. I feel like hockey, why we love it because it is so team-oriented, it often holds a sport back, and there are also stories that you can tell about society through the prism of sports. Those are the things that I really like to lean into and I also think it is my duty to introduce the world to these guys because they’re really interesting and have stories to tell and that's my job to tell them.”
Criticism is something huge, especially towards women in sports like reporters. Handling criticism can be tough.
“Last year, I definitely felt like I was in tune with what people were saying and it did affect me. I realized that it doesn't matter what random opinions mean, you know you can take feedback but only from an inside circle of people you trust and so I tune out a lot of the noise and I realized it comes from either a place of jealousy or insecurity or just ignorance and I focus on feedback from people that matter, so the people I cover, my bosses, my close friends and Confidants, and family and that has really helped me navigate through it,” Kaplan shared.
Last year, Kaplan was a rookie at being a reporter but was also very successful with it. She was there for the Stanley Cup Playoffs and got to see the Colorado Avalanche win it all.
“It was a true thrill,” she shared about being there front row.
Interviewing people is a huge part of being a reporter. Kaplan has conducted many player and coaches interviews, but when I asked her what her favorite moment from one was, she said, “Definitely the spicy pork and broccoli. That was the four-overtime game with Louis Domingue. That quote was just hilarious and unpredictable and funny.”
Her career in being an NHL reporter has just started and with her talent and dedication, she will accomplish many great things.
“I got to a point that I never thought I would be, so now that I am here, I am just trying to enjoy the experience,” she expressed
Women in sports are constantly growing with women now being in positions no one has ever thought to see them in such as managing positions. Kaplan believes that 10 years from now, it will continue to evolve.
“I see them as more of equals and not as diversity hires and every time a woman gets hired, we don't need to do a news story and press release about it, it just is what it is.”
Ending off this wonderful interview, I asked her biggest piece of advice for anyone who wants to work in the sports industry.
“My number one piece of advice always is to be a respectful pest. It's always about how you treat people, but it is also about your work ethic. Sometimes being a journalist is being annoying and it's uncomfortable, but you have to stay at it but make sure you do it while treating people the right way. The other thing is to just be authentic. Nobody wants to see what's already been out there and nobody wants to see you try to be somebody else. People just want to see authenticity, who people truly are and that's what shines and that's what viewers connect and relate to the most so always remember to be authentic.”