Where did it all start for Donnette’ Hulsey?
I grew up in South Alabama in a small town called Eight Mile, Ala. I remember being the only girl my age so all of my friends were boys. I would spend my weekends riding four-wheelers, mud riding and talking sports with the guys. It only seemed fitting as they started playing sports in school, I started cheering. I have always just loved watching any sport. Seeing someone push and work to be number one can light a fire in you to do the same. Now I get to use that passion and drive to produce and report for a 30-minute sports show in the heart of the SEC, Birmingham, Ala.
20 QUESTIONS WITH DONNETTE HULSEY
1. When did you realize you wanted to become a sports broadcaster?
I have always loved watching sports. When I was a little girl I remember watching football and seeing people interview the players and coaches on the sidelines. I thought, “That’s their job?” I knew right then it was the job for me. I majored in Broadcast and Communication at the University of Mobile and interned at the NBC station there before being hired on fulltime.
2. What sporting event would be your dream to cover?
I would have to say the SuperBowl. I love the NFL and getting a chance to cover the top two teams battle it out for number one would be amazing.
3. You’re a former beauty queen. How have your experiences in pageants helped you in your career?
I became involved in the Miss America Organization in high school as a way to win scholarship money for college. It’s funny – I was never into it as some of the other contestants, but a friend convinced me to do it with her so when I won a title, we were all surprised. I think it helped me build the confidence I needed to work in the sports world. People normally see a female in sports and think they are just there to be a pretty face. You have to be confident enough to break down the stereotype and prove them wrong. It also helped me be a better role model for young girls.
4. How do you balance health and fitness with your job?
Fitness and running are a big part of my life! During football season your hours are long and you travel to games so finding time to sweat can be hard. But, I know that if I don’t get in my workout, I will be on edge all day. When I am in a bad mood the guys at work will even joke and ask if I missed my morning run. I have become an early bird since moving into the sports world. I normally try to hit the gym by 5:30 a.m. That gives me time to lift weights and run. Traveling and working out can be hard so I have learned a few exercises to do that don’t require any weight. That way I can workout in my room before or after a game.
I would have to say Bill Parcells. He managed to turn four NFL teams around, and that can’t be an easy task. You have to wonder what type of drive someone has to do that and how they managed to get the players to follow. It would have to be one of those interviews where we just sat and talked instead of asking him a bunch of questions. I think that’s the only way to really get to know someone.
6. What is the best part of your job?
It would seem like the obvious thing to say is the people I meet, and I love that part of the job, but I really enjoy being able to tell the stories no one hears. We did a story on a 10-year-old football player battling cancer one day. His entire team surprised his parents by all wearing his name on their jerseys and with money they had raised to help him pay his medical bills. Seeing how these young children came together to help a friend was amazing.
7. What advice would you give for anyone wanting to become a sports broadcaster?
This biggest thing is you have to be willing to work odd hours and study. Sometimes I feel like I am back in college. You have to learn rosters, media guides, stats and more. Not to mention of you are covering a game with a 6 p.m. kickoff and you may not get home till 2 a.m., but I truly love every minute of it and wouldn’t trade a second of it.
I really love running. It’s something I think anyone can give a try. If I don’t have time to lift weights, I can normally always find the time to run a few miles.
9. What are your top three songs to work out to?
It really depends on my mood that day. My iPod is like a jukebox, you never know what will be on it. I have everything from AC/DC to Hank Williams
10. What is your proudest achievement to date?
I have so much to be thankful for in life. This past year I was awarded an Emmy, an AP Award, and a Murrow. As amazing as those are, I am just proud to be able to wake up everyday and do a job I love.
11. If we looked in your fridge right now, what would we find?
A lot of food! My friends joke how my pantry is empty but my fridge is always full. I try not to eat a lot of processed food. I love cooking and eating clean and making things from scratch. There’s just something about making your entire dinner from scratch instead of opening a box that makes me happy.
12. Any guilty pleasures?
I love Raisinets. I don’t know what it is, but if I am having a bad day, those will make me smile.
13. Do you have a motto you live by?
My daddy always told me, “Hold yourself to the highest standards.” He would say, “You came into this world with one thing – your name, and when you leave, your name is what people will remember you by. Always make sure they can’t associate you with anything less than dignity and class.”
14. What are some of your pet peeves?
I have one that I am guilty of – being on my phone. In today’s world we are attached to our phones. I hate when I meet friends for dinner and everyone is checking Facebook or Twitter instead of talking to each other.
15. How would your friends describe you in three words?
My best friend was quick to inform me that I am hardheaded, loyal and loving.
16. Any hidden talents?
I want to be remembered not just for my career, but for the person I am. I would like people to look back and say I was a great friend and daughter who was caring and passionate. I try to always let people know I’m thinking of them. I am that person who will send a random text of a goofy picture just hoping it made their day a little brighter just for a second.
18. We always have to ask this question. Are you single, taken or locked down?
I am single.
19. What is your perfect date?
I am going to cheat here and say I have two. I love being outdoors so if a guy wants to load up the mountain bikes, grab the trail shoes and pack a lunch for a day on the trails, I am in Heaven. I am also a big sucker for take-out Chinese and cuddling on the couch for a movie.
20.Who would you nominate to be our next Sports Babe of the Day?
Jennifer Hale from Fox Sports. I worked with Jennifer before she moved to New Orleans and always thought she was the biggest sweetheart and role model.