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Part 1: Dating a co-worker?

Hi friends,

One of the challenges of working in sports, or any demanding role really, is that it can be hard to meet someone. You’ve heard the phrase “married to the job”, right? Well as a young person in sports, it’s easy to fall victim to the cliché. This industry can be all-consuming, often requiring long, untraditional hours and an on-call mentality. Not exactly the ideal recipe for romance.

Maybe that’s why so many sports industry professionals, myself included, find their significant others at work. I know what you’re thinking. Wait, what? Dating on the job? Is that even legal? All valid questions. 😂  I’m here to tell you that yes, not only is it legal (assuming you follow proper organizational reporting protocol and there aren’t any weird power dynamics at play), it’s actually pretty common. So many of my friends in sports are dating or married to people who also work in the industry, and many actually met while working at the same place. Probably because it’s very hard for people to understand the lifestyle unless they’re actually in it. You know what I’m talking about. You may have even experienced it with friends or family. They have an idea of what you do and think it’s cool and all, but they don’t really understand the demands on your time or the fast-paced nature of the sports world. You don’t “get it”, unless you’ve lived it.

Personally, I never even considered the possibility of meeting someone at work. I didn’t grow up dreaming of my wedding. I’ve been career-focused for as long as I can remember and had been telling everyone since the age of 10 that I was going to work for ESPN. As a result, I really didn’t care about anything that wasn’t moving me closer to that goal, so while I dated in college, I didn’t put much thought into where or how I’d meet “the one”.


And yet…I met my now-husband Paul at ESPN. After graduating, I started full-time as a production researcher in the Stats and Info Group (SIG). Like me, he was new, having just left to start in the same role. As such, he was one of the few people in the department who I hadn’t met during my internship. Yet because we were two of the most recent hires, we were often trained together or assigned to the same shows.


We first really got to know each other while working the 9 pm SportsCenter. He was the assigned researcher for the show and, as the newest person in the department, I was the designated “cards person”. Essentially, my role was to watch any live sporting events going on at the time and then handwrite relevant stats on index cards to run out to the anchors to use for live cut-ins and highlights. Working together in studio every night, we got to know each other well, first bonding over our shared love of water polo during that summer’s Olympics.


While it became clear that we were interested in each other, I wasn’t sure how a date was going to be possible. We had different off days and on the shifts where we did overlap, we often got off at 12 or 1 am. Enter Denny’s. (Yes, that Denny’s.)


One night, after two months of working together, we finished up a late-night shift and walked out to the parking lot together. Still in the middle of a heated sports debate when we arrived at our cars, Paul asked if I wanted to go somewhere to continue our discussion. (He later admitted that he was nervous to ask because he didn’t want me to think he was a creep and there were very few non-sketchy options available at that time of night, lol.) When I asked where, he shrugged and suggested we could grab a drink. “Ehh, is there anywhere else?” I’d asked, not really feeling a drink after a long shift. So he pulled up Maps on his phone and found a Denny’s about 10 minutes from the ESPN campus and off we went.


We talked for three hours over grilled cheeses and chocolate milk (my all-time favorite meal besides mac and cheese). It was the first of countless post-work Denny’s dates, many of which were spent agonizing over Notre Dame football (we went 4-8 that season and my superstitious self was very concerned our budding relationship could be to blame), sharing family stories (we both call our grandparents “Gram and Pop” how weird is that?), and exchanging pictures of our dogs (mine back at home with my parents and his rescue, Doughty). Pretty soon, we were meeting at a nearby park before our afternoon shifts in order to chat and go on long walks.


So that was the beginning of me dating a co-worker. There’s a lot more to the story but this blog is getting long so we’ll get into how we navigated long distance and crazy (and sometimes opposite) sports schedules next week.

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