Average to Savage
Average to Savage

Episode · 1 year ago

LaChina Robinson | Average To Savage EP94


This is the ninety-fourth episode of the Average to Savage podcast featuring basketball analyst LaChina Robinson. Paul Guarino talked with LaChina Robinson discussing her time at Wake Forest playing basketball, her broadcasting journey from local TV to ESPN, and why she started her nonprofit Rising Media Stars. Follow LaChina Robinson https://www.instagram.com/LaChinaRobinson Podcast interview with LaChina Robinson originally recorded April 3, 2020

This is the average to savage podcastwith Paul Greno everyone in anyone athletes sets and much more so, everybody.I'm back for another episode of the average savage podcast. Or special guest todayis will China. Robinson, will China. How's it going? Going all righthaul, you know, we're into difficult times, challenging times right now, but thankful to be healthy and my family's healthy. So I know complaints. How about yourself? Yeah, definitely feel you on that. It's prettyweird, but I'm doing good. Same families all right, so pretty good. Right now. Where you located at? I'm in Atlanta. I've been herefor about, gosh, maybe seventeen years now. I spent one yearafter I graduated from wake forest in Greensboro, but after that I got a jobit Georgia tech and I've been in Atlanta ever since nevertheless. Gotcha.Yeah, going back in time, how did you get involved playing basketball?Yeah, so I haven't fought luck this little girl when it came to sport. I had two oldest sisters that played basketball. One was on my Dad'sside, which I didn't spend much time with. My older sister actually didearn a college scholarship on his side of family, and then my older sistermy mom's side, played in high school. But you know, I wanted tofit in, so I wanted to be a cheerleader like the rest ofmy friends. And then, obviously, when we realize that fourteen years old, that I was sixty, for a little bit of a change of heart. But it really was a guy in my neighborhood name Michael J continued tocome to my house and Bang my mom to let me play basketball, andone day he mentioned that I can earn a college scholarship, and that's reallyall it took for my mom to hear. She was big, always have beenbig, on education, and she pretty much brought me off the processnext day and never came to pick me up. You know, now youhave founded face in the world where you can flourish and get a free education, and I started to learn how to make friends and found my voice.You got a local confidence level as a fourteen year old, as a teenager, and basketball is the first place I really felt like I was a law, I belonged and felt like that was the reason why I was different,because the side gave me an advantage. But I would learn to just loveto compete and play the game. But that's how I got into it.Yeah, you were six for a fourteen. I was six foot for a fourteen. I actually grew three inches from my sweet fourteen. I was probablya freshman, so I grew I was six foot or six one in theeighth grade, so I probably grew like three or four inches the on onesummer, which was a lot. Yeah, yeah, it's crazy. And thenwhat was your recruiting process like out to high school? Well, becauseI had started playing late and I was not very good when I started playingat fourteen years ago and I was grateful that man named Fred Priest, whohad an AU program called the Virginia Vogue, gave me a shot to join histeam and there hadn't been anyone added to this team and many, manyyears. But I'm sure the fact that I was six four was kind ofhelped me along a little bit. But I wasn't very good to start andit took me while I was develop but I did get started to get somedivision one offers. My teammates were really good and had played since they wereyounger. So I played with a post player that which is tech and Imean they were rolling. But I ended up my college decision came down towake force, Clemson, Jmu and Flora am. So that was kind ofa recruiting process. I went on three of those visits and after every schoolI thought I was going to that school. So I left Jam Muse thinking Iwas going to go there and then I left Crimson thinking I'm going togo there, and then after we finished up at wake force. Because ofthe size of a smaller school, I...

...needed that one on one academic attention. I head coach was a woman of color, which was something my motherreally was excited about, having me play under someone who was in a leadershipposition who look like me, you know, just playing in the ACC the academicopportunities, wake force ended up being the place for me. And thenwhat were your overall experience like I wake for it was definitely challenging. Ithink going off to college for any young person it's tough, but definitely forme in particular because I was still finding my way on the basketball court.Wake forces a predominantly white school, so I was a minority and, youknow, I had grown up in a very diverse high school situation. She'sbeing away from home in general. But the transitions was so challenging for methat I really hoped in all academics and basketball. So I end up makingthe beans list my freshman year. I was all the all freshman team atwake for is my freshman year. So lot of good things came from thethe challenge of a transition like that, but I think it was definitely adifferent environment than what I was used to and that was challenged to just reallyfind a different skill set and this managed to live on my own. Andwhat that look like? Yeah, like during college. Did you know whatyou wanted to do after college, like broadcasting lines? I did not.I was a sociology major almost by force, and I say that because I cameinto college thinking I wanted to be a lawyer, but then I waslike I find out how much reading and writing I had to do. Wasn'tbinding up for that. I almost failed my intro class of psychology after Iwanted to try that as a major. So I was figured that was probablynot a good group for me either, and then I decided to look intodifferent majors and what the court this work was like, and when I lookedup for theology. I was going to be taking classes like death and dying, is marriage in the family, socially quality and need for all things thatI was interested in. That resonated with me. I always love people andsociety and how they interact, and so I really just followed. Well,I was passionate about moment by moment, and that landed me and as asociology major. And when I was done with college I hadn't even thought aboutbroadcasting. I mean I didn't get into broadcasting. So I was in mylate twenty. So I asked to spent the first seven years of my careerin Athle like administration. Got An internship of the ACC worked at Georgan textand loved it and loved what I did and then kind of went through itcareer pivot and my late s after going through a low point in my lifeand finding kind of a new since the purpose. So you know, itwas a big Zag road. You try things, you like it, youdon't, you kind of move forward and you allow yourself to change in shiftsas well. You know, you grow as a person and you know wewent to purpose today may not be your purpose in teen years so now,but you wake up and you do what means the most to you today andit kind of helps you find your journey. And so when I was in mylate s I made the pivot into broadcasting and I've been doing that thelast eleven years. Yeah, like how did you get into broadcasting? Likewhat was like your first jobs and in broadcasting? Yeah, so I startedoff in radio at George A tech. I was working there on the administrativeside and one day they were like Hey, do you want to try to dothe radio broadcast and like sure, and the first day I put aheadset on. I knew that that was something that I was going to beinterested in doing more of because I felt so close to the game. Youknow, I was one of those that always knew I didn't want to coach, and that's about as close of the game as you could be if you'renot playing. But I just didn't know and probably didn't have the confidence inmy skill set to do much other than that when I transitioned out of college. So I gained the experience on the administrative side and that's what was goodto me why I put that headset on.

I was like, Oh, thisis cool. So I started doing the radio for the team because whenwe traveled I would plan travel, but I didn't sit on the bench,I didn't have any game responsibility. So did the radio. Love that andfrom there started to just become a little bit of fest about integrating myself intospaces where I felt like I could meet people that would give me broadcasting opportunitiesor learning. I mean, I used to shadow every time there was agame at Jordan Tech. I wanted to shadow the analysts, I want toshout. Shadow the side that reporter fit in the truck was really building andeducation in the space where I had no experience from scratch. You know,they're really isn't a broadcast school. What I mean by that is when thatlight comes on, you either know what you're going to say or you don't. You know, you either can get it out of your mouth or youcan and you can sit in the classroom and learn a ton of things,but not until you're on the field or have that microphone in your in yourhand or, they say, in your on do you know if you couldactually do it. So you know, I did a lot of shadowing andthings like that and I just started taking whatever job I could to get amicrophone in my hand, and mean that that's when broadcasting things online wasn't aspopular. But if I can find an opportunity to do a one on oneinterviews or you know, I started at a very small regional network called CSShere in the southeast, and it was like, okay, if someone getssick, give me a call, because that was really the only way anybodywas going to give me a chance. And that's pretty much how it happened. You know, I had no broadcasting serious that was broadcast Major. Sopeople were saying, Oh, let's let's call her. She thought you knowwhat she doing. You know. So it was more about just positioning myselfso that it's an opportunity came, I would be ready for it. Yeah, we're you also sending out like reels? Absolutely, I mean at that point, because I was doing radio, there wasn't a real, real right, so I was sitting out feeds of my games, you know, ohschool. So yeah, I mean I was sitting out cd of be doingradio. People would listen and critique me and I would try to make changes, but it really takes you getting that first television opportunity. And, likeI said, was that a very small regional network. Someone couldn't come,I was whatever number on the list of people they called. And once Istarted to get those on camera jobs, that's when I started to build areal but I honestly did not have a real for a while. But Ididn't have enough work. I mean I was already doing substantial work for ESPNby the time I got a full real and the thing about women basketball isthat all along I had been establishing my brand, even when I was workingwith the whis basketball teamage were detest I was meeting people along the way whoknew people who were in position for this sport. So that was important,right. It wasn't like I was trying to go out and be a hockeyanalyst like and I knew the sport and I knew the coaches and I hadbeen studying even before I decided to get into broadcasting. So you know,that helped me as well, that I had an established respect and brand inpresence in this space even before I would ever be able to have an actualreal yeah, and then two thousand and nine you got hired at ESPN.So how did that come about? Yeah, so I thanks to a woman.They Carol this I was at a conference for what was Nakua, whichwas the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators, which is my way inleaders so I was there at a conference because I was an administration at thattime, but I was starting to try to transition into doing television. AndCarol, who has been at ESPN, I mean she may be, Iknow she's at a senior level as far as television programming, at the seniorexecutive level is in the organization. She's been there a long time and shedonated an opportunity for a raffle. So...

...they were doing this and actually wasan auction. They were doing an option and everyone was bringing different things fromtheir company and Farrell was having them off off an opportunity for someone to visitesps. So I'm sitting in the audience I'm like, Oh boy, Ihear that. That's one of the things that auctioning I keep in mind.I'm making like no Mourney, but as the number of keeps going up forthis option, I'm like, Oh, there is no way I can affordthat right. So I'm not put my hand up, I'm not doing anything. I'm just sitting there salivating wishing that. You know that opportunity could do mind. Well, just so happens very Mathlroy, who was the senior womenadministrator of at the time at George See, I was working one bad opportunity togo to the Espars and immediately after that was over, I ran overto her was like, Carol, I have to have this. No,I'm sorry, I said Mary, I had to have this. I said, you know, I can't afford it, but I can pay you an installment. So you know that at the time probing like fifty bucks a monthand I was like, I can pay your installments, that I have tohave this. So I ended up taking that trip to Bristol, meeting peoplein the ESPN, including Carol, who introduced me to a woman name TinaThorton, who not only was she in charge of talent over winmen basketball,but she was also a former week forest graduate. So it was networking atits finest. And I also just think the alignment of the stars and Godknows where you're supposed to be, you who you're supposed to be or whereyou're supposed to go. He opens the doors and that trip was something thatwas definitely got opening up the doors for me because it had alive so perfectly. Yeah, that's awesome. And then you, and you've been working thereten plus years now. What's your experience been like working for ESPN? Iknow you do stuff for, or you did so for Atlanta dream and Foxsports south. Yeah, and great. I mean no one does more forwomen basketball broadcasting standpoints then the SPS. So it's not even closed. Imean we have the women's Tournament, we have the WNBA season and playoff infinal. So to be working, if you want to work at the highestlevel for the sport that I love, that's where you want to be.And I couldn't say enough about the opportunities that I've been given. I mean, I was me all American. I was in an Olympian, I wasn'ta champion. We didn't even make these deternment when I was in college.So for me to be sitting in some of the places I've been sitting,whether it's the the WBA finals or as a regional analysts on the college levelor you know, whatever that is, is it's on my mind. Inever thought that I would get those opportunities. So I'm grateful to work at acompany that is recognized my hard work and has elevated G and is giventhe sport that I love the attention that it deserves. Yeah, what abouthow do you think women's basketball and like WNBA, like? What do youthink could help it grow? The first and foremost, just more companies investingin sponsorships. You know, I mean what is basketball in general needs moreexposure, they need more visibility and it comes from investing, you know,companies investing in the marketing of the sport at various levels, media entities committingto more coverage of the sport that aren't already giving the attention. So itdefinitely starts more there, with just big companies saying hey, we want togive to women's basketball, to WBA, whatever the case is. But thenI think it's also just it takes the shift at attitude. You know,there are still people out here that believe that women should be playing basketball,and do think that we would be way beyond that attitude with this point,but we're not. So we need those people to get over it and givethe game of chance. Just watch it...

...now. Beyond like it. Fine, you know, go about to business and you can say whatever you wantto say. But a lot of the critics are just people that have amisogynistic attitude in general about women and refused to give the sport a chance.And we just need more people to open their eyes and see that these womenare the best athletes in the world and they're great at what they do anddeserve all the support. It's like any other sport. Yeah, I meanthe thing I like the most recently is I seen a lot of like NBAplayers supporting which I think is going to help in the long run, andI seen like a couple of players actually like wear their jerseys to yeah,I mean, it at least open people's eyes, because there is a highlevel of respect for the NBA, is more established, obviously because it's beenaround a lot longer than the WNBA. It's, though, it definitely helpsand its genuine. You know, it's the genuine respect, because basketball andbasketball, no matter the level. Yeah, yeah, definitely. And then Iknow you have a podcast to around the room. How did that comeabout? Yeah, so it just really came out of a desire to havefurther conversation around our support. You know, podcasting, as you know, ison the rise and it's a platform that people are using to peak theirmind on various topics freely. You know, you don't always have open space,open time, open opportunity to talk about everything, whether it's on televisionor I'm not a great writer. Still, platforms aren't for everyone. So Iactually met with a woman named Lord Gin Tilly, who is another highranking exact at ESPN or fat down with her New York about five years agoand said Hey, I got this idea and told her about a show,podcast women basketball, was started in with Enaya Groumak and have a producer,Terenka pofter bras. That's been would be, the entire time. Today no longerdoes it with us, but it started out. Today and I havinga conversation at NBA TV and say hey, we need something, you know,cool and fresh and culturally reletive for our sport in order to attract evena younger audience. So those of the ideas and we are about to haveour fifth WNBA season, I believe, which is crazy, but just afun platform where we can tell the stories of women's basketball and have coaches andplayers on and talk about hot topics and first of the conversation about big games. That happened throughout the year both in college and WBA. So it's justa great space to give the sport more love and for the podcast. Likewhat's your process when, like you're interviewing someone, like what's you're like researchingthem and like the questions you want to ask? I mean I try tolet my natural curiosity city takeover. So it's really just about how can webest tell this story so that it resonates with whoever is listening in our audience. So we have coaches that listen and fans and listen and former players orcurrent players that listen to different groups. They all have different interests at thereis levels, but we just basically try to bring all the personality of ourguests. If they're an expert, obviously we want to put that on display, but we just want to find a way to connect with our audience andway that's not already happening for our sport and hopefully just bringing out some ofthe personalities but also going a little deeper in the level of coverage. Ithink definitely something that is on our mind every time we interview someone is findingout, you know, we're behind this win, what's behind it success?Of this program. How did you get involved in basketball? There's so manydifferent angleses and look at it. And I know you also have your owncompany, rising media stars. How did you start that? Writing? MediaStars is a nonprofit. Actually we right now or about to achieve our nonprofitstatus officially, but I started it as...

...a training program for young women ofColor that want to get into broadcasting. You know, I've had an amazingcareer and hope to do this for you many years, but it was atough transition in terms of definding and figuring out what I needed to know andhave to get to this space. So one side sat down and say,okay, I love to where my career is now. The next desire wasto help other people who maybe wanted to be where I was, and somy cofounder, Kevin Nixon, and I had already been bringing young women theGames and having them shadow up. He does video production. This was morewhen I was in analyst for the dream that this started, but young womenwould come in and shadow me and get can sit in the truck and theywould, you know, get to sit on the headset or this is somehow we're communicating with the producers. You know, just basically giving them abehind the scenes of how it all works and we just formalize the program honestly. So we basically have been doing this for a long time, but nowwe have a formal program where our young women actually get experience behind the camera. In front of the camera, they get to do stand ups and learnhow to ask questions and have a deeper understanding of their own personal brands.I mean, we go into it at various levels, but the most importantpart is they come out of the program with a real because they get tocover the united and land a dream and the Falcons and the hawks. Wehave great partnerships who are board of directors with those programs and those sports teamsthat allow our young women to come in and actually cover it like they wouldif they were hired, and so they get footage. I definitely do myfair share of critiquing them and giving them feedback, which is good. Weconnect them to mentors. We've had amazing women come in and be involved inour program using their resources to help and also guiding and answering questions. Soit's a team effort. But you know, there's a lack of coverage some womensports, but there's also a lack of women covering sports, and especiallywomen of color. So if I can impact that number, that very closelyresonates with my propose. Yeah, yeah, definitely. I think that point rightthere, that there has to be more women's broadcasters covering women sports,for sure. And then, yeah, another one is what advice would yougive to a young broadcaster? Just to get your feet wet, you know, get out there in the field, even if it's just practicing with yourfriends holding your camera and you doing a fake stand up outside of a stadium. You know, practice, get comfortable with how you look on camera andwhat you found by because even when you don't have an official job, youcan always do a recap of a game that you saw. What would yousay about this game? What question would you ask Lebron after this game?They're always ways to get practice and it makes perfect you can't wait till youget in front of the camera for the first time to figure out if youknow what you're doing or not. I used to practice on my phone allthe time and just play it back. How do I found and I makesense. When I talking too fast, I would using my hands too much. So it's a process of finding your voice and it's something that you couldstart doing on your own. If, for sure, you ready for somefun questions? Yeah, let's do it. What's your favorite Song Right now?My favorite song right now the question. Um, let's see, my favoritesong right now is probably savage. All right, I like that.If you had to do a Jersey exchange with somebody, who would you doit it? Let's pick one WNBA player, one NBA player. NBA, definitely, Patrick. You W NBA to be the catching all right, youmight have been the fastest person answer that question before. I know. Iknow my favorite. Doesn't take me long...

...and I don't change him up,so I like that. What do you like to do in your free time? Free time, I love to eat, so I love to try different restaurant. I always love getting my nails done and that's something that's a therapeuticfor meeting my nails and tooth Doun and working out has becomes something that's moreimportant to me. I definitely need to do it more consistently, but Ijust love getting a sweat did. And last one, what's been like themost memorable or your favorite game that you covered? Favorite game that I coveredby far was game five of the WNBA final tway sixteen, when the lasparksbeat the Minnesota rink in the waiting moments of a crazy game five after justthe most amazing series I've ever covered in my career. It was just agame that goes down the history as one of the greatest and maybe the bestseries of sport has ever had. That would definitely be my pick. I'mimpressed that you had those answers so fast. Usually people are like, well,let me think. Like you said, I know, I know myself.Yeah, yeah, I can come up with some it's pretty consistent forme, so I don't have to think. You know. Yeah, same thingtoday that it was five years ago. You know, as far as myfavorite players and I don't change very much. I don't very very much. Yeah, like that. Well, I appreciate you coming on and youhave to listeners know where they could follow you at. Yeah, I amon twitter at La China Robinson. I'm on Instagram at list to inspire,the number two, and yeah, that's where you can reach me. Allright, again, I appreciate it and best of luck baseball. I appreciateyou having me on. Thanks for showcase thing. That you do and forelevating women athletes as well and women in Sports, and stay faith.

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