A Woman You Should Meet: Jackie Redmond

Jackie Redmond eats, sleeps and breathes sports. As an on-air host at Sportsnet, she just doesn’t have time to eat or sleep anything else. Still, we can’t have too much sympathy for anyone who spends their days watching highlights. We caught Jackie between tapings to chat about her new anchor gig, spitting rhymes at karaoke and being the first female to win a sportscaster reality TV show.

Photos courtesy of Michael Reid

We’ve talked about a show that you host called Plays of the Month and you’ve called it your baby. How did that show get started?

You asked me the highlight of my career and those other things are definitely highlights, but this show is one thing I am the most proud of. I don’t just host it, I also produce it. I can’t take credit for the initial idea which belongs to Sportsnet’s VP Greg Sansone, but he put the project on my plate and we put a lot of work into making it what it is. Basically, it’s a countdown of the plays of the month. I watch every single highlight out there, I pick what I think are the best, rank them and we put a fun show together. I’ve been able to learn a lot with this show and really hone my producer skills. It allows me to be creative and I love that. We added a second show called Misplays of the Month, a show that’s even more fun than the original. It’s all the silly, stupid stuff that happens in sports that make you laugh. We’re really proud of those two. I say we because, of course, it’s a team effort.

With you working in sports, are guys who play sports or know their stats a turn on or a turn off?

I definitely get along with guys who know and like sports because it’s something that we have in common and it makes it easier to get along. It’s always fun to be able to go out with someone to watch a game and both be passionate about it. But on the other hand, I’m so familiar with sports on my own that sometimes what I look for in a guy is for them to introduce me to something else. It sounds bad but I don’t know how much a guy could teach me about sports! I look for guys with different interests so I can experience something new like music or the arts…stuff that I don’t always make time for in my own life. I like it when a guy can introduce me to something different.

Which sport is your favourite to report on and why?

My favourite sport is hockey. It’s always been in my life. This might sound lame, but it represents a lot for me. It represents family and where it all started for me. I played hockey my whole life, my sister did too, so I pretty much grew up in hockey rinks either at my own games or watching hers. Obviously I love the game, but it’s also where I built a relationship with my dad. He’s my best friend and my fondest memories are watching games with him years ago. Even today, I’ll still watch games with my dad and talk about who should be on what line or what the Leafs need to do to be better. I think it’s helped me a lot because my knowledge of the game comes from an organic place, it’s just always been there. Women will always ask how I got to know hockey so well and it’s honestly just how I was raised. I never decided to go ‘learn hockey’, I just always played, was at a rink or watching Hockey Night in Canada with my dad. I’m a product of my environment.

What’s been a career highlight so far?

Oh that’s so hard! Can I give two? I was on Hockey Night in Canada for the first time ever a couple weeks ago just giving updates on news and highlights from around the league. It was really surreal to have George Stroumboulopoulos—who I grew up watching on MuchMusic—throw to me while sitting next to such a revered hockey panel. The other highlight is from this past summer when my job sent me to Australia to cover the Pan Pacific Championship swimming competition. In my wildest dreams I never imagined that I’d end up on the other side of the world for work. I’m hoping that with that experience I get to cover more niche sports, something I never saw myself doing. I’d love to cover swimming at the Olympics.

What’s coming up next for you?

My gig with Sportsnet Central just started, so that’s the big thing for me right now. I’m still getting used to it and being in an new environment and trying to be the best that I can be. It’s my main focus right now to make it the best show possible with my co-host Brendan Dunlop. It’s a really exciting time for Sportsnet right now because they just started their 12-year partnership with the NHL so we have everything a hockey fan could want to see.

You’re always on TV and you have a serious social media presence so people probably think they know you. What’s something no one knows about you?

I love karaoke. And I love rapping at karaoke. I can spit a verse like no other. Karaoke dates are s much fun because it forces you to put yourself out there and step outside of your comfort zone. You learn a lot of someone when you experience karaoke with them. If I went out with a guy and he refused to go up and perform there would never be another date. And if you’re going to do a rap song at karaoke, you have to commit. Which I do.

Whose lyrics are you spitting?

[Laughs] Eminem mostly but I’ll do Tupac and Biggie too. I’ll sing at karaoke too but the crowd always loves a good rap. And I’ll put my all into it. One hundred per cent.

How did you get your start at Sportsnet?

Sports have always been something I’ve been passionate about. I played a lot of sports when I was younger and always knew I wanted to do something that kept me close. After going to school, I worked in radio for a bit and worked unpaid for a while. Finally, I stumbled on the opportunity to audition for a show called Gillette Drafted: The Search for Canada’s Next Sportscaster. To make a long story short, I made the show, made the top 10 and ended up winning, the first female ever to do so. Through that show, I got a one-year contract, which a lot of people look at as lucky, but I really had to work to be able to stick around. Luckily, my hard work paid off and my contract was renewed and I’ve been there ever since, almost 4 years.

Take me through a regular day for you.

There is no regular day for me at Sportsnet [laughs]. I just started as a network anchor on a show called Sportsnet Central, a highlight show. A typical day on that would be: I come in, watch the games—tough, I know—and go on the desk giving all the news and highlights from the day and overnight. It sounds really easy but can be crazy. Especially if a baseball game goes 18 innings. That changes everything. You end up going live across the country having not seen a single highlight pack that you’re about to do. If you know your stuff and you’ve done your homework, you’ll get through it. But that’s what I love about it, it’s always changing and no two days are the same.

My next question was actually what you love and what you don’t love about the job.

That’s what makes it fun. I get to watch sports for a living and even my worst day is not a bad day. I’m still living in a dream world and I’m still doing what I love every single day. The worst part is that I don’t see my friends a lot. It’s a demanding job and if you want to stick around in the industry you have to work hard and make sacrifices. A lot of the time, that sacrifice is your social life.