On November 4, 2018, Fox Sports sideline reporter Laura Okmin received some news she would always remember.
“My phone was blowing up, which never happens because my friends and family know not to bother me on game days,” she smiled. “However, it was a tweet that was congratulating me on becoming the third-longest tenured sideline reporter.”
Congrats to our own @LauraOkmin for her 164th network telecast, becoming the 3rd most broadcasted sideline reporter in history.
We appreciate everything you’ve done and continue to do, Laura! pic.twitter.com/VQsYfm0mIt
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) November 4, 2018
She used to make jokes about her age and how long she had been in the industry. Now, she always makes sure to get credit for all 30 years she spent covering sports.
“All of those years I spent wasting my vision on other people’s paths, I realized that morning how proud of the longevity I have had in this business.”
Okmin grew up in Chicago where sports run rampant in all divisions. In her family, not being a sports fan wasn’t an option.
“We all followed the Bears and White Sox, but I never thought I would make a career out of it,” she said. “I just knew I wanted to be a storyteller. In college, I took a sports journalism class, and I realized there are no better stories than sports.”
However, when telling someone she wanted to go into sports, it was almost laughable.
“Back then, there was just no way. At my first job, they needed someone to cover sports on the weekends, and I was the only woman doing it. It was a huge deal. When I got hired as a full-time sports broadcaster in Chattanooga, I realized how much of a novelty it was.”
Now, Okmin can see the difference in the number of women around her.
“When I started in this industry, I would count the number of women I saw in the room. It started on one hand, then it went to two hands. Now, I can’t count them anymore,” she beamed.
Although the numbers have changed, there is still work to be done.
“The tough part is if we start counting women in executive positions, we go back to one hand,” she explained. “It’s changed in numbers, but it hasn’t changed in how we need women running the table, not just at the table.”
Okmin quickly realized when women are trying to get those executive positions, they reach too high too quickly. And she wanted to do something about it.
“I would watch as these girls would get spit up and chewed out. I immediately became protective, and I wanted to help. That’s when Galvanize started.”
Galvanize is Okmin’s company she started over a decade ago empowering women who want to start a career in sports. It started as taking four months to find 20 women to now having a waitlist of over 30 trying to get into the boot camps.
“It gave me a purpose,” she said. “If you’re a woman in sports, there’s a good chance you’re a guys’ girl. I wanted to give them a woman mentor because I didn’t have that at their age.”
Along with her company, Okmin has accomplished a numerous amount of things including covering Super Bowls and the Olympics. However, her favorite part about her job is the people.
“Relationships and people never get old. They are constantly revolving and building, and every new place I go to, I get to make new ones. That’s everything to me.”
And the people in Nashville make her job even better.
“When I came from Los Angeles, it was always ‘What can you do for me?’ In Nashville, it’s ‘What can I do for you?’ I came from watching people talking to one another, but looking around to see if someone bigger and better was coming in. In Nashville, whoever you are talking to is who you are having a real conversation with.”
Okmin looks back on her younger self and says young Laura was just happy to have a gig at the time. She hopes her current self will stay present and keep the confidence she gained over the past 30 years.
“The things I’m doing now, I never would’ve imagined I was doing,” she said. “I didn’t think I’d start a production company or a company for women in sports. I’m very mindful of evolving and not waiting around. I don’t know what I’m going to do next, but I can’t wait to find out.”
Featured image via Laura Okmin
More Nashville Women in Sports Media:
Emily Proud: from the Belmont soccer field to your living room TV
Lyndsay Rowley’s fork in the road that led her to the Nashville Predators
Dawn Davenport’s lost job that brought her to Nashville
How Teresa Walker went from covering the county jail to NFL Sundays
Courtney Lyle finds courage through her dad and in front of the camera
Tatum Everett: From New Orleans to NFL Sundays in Nashville