Mackenize Thirkill has definitely experienced what it is like to be an athlete and a fan. Her experience comes from playing different sports to tagging along with childhood neighbors to Miami Dolphins, Heat, and Marlins games. This experience has helped her build a promising career in the sports industry.
During her childhood, Mackenize was a tomboy that played softball, basketball, soccer, volleyball, rugby, tennis, cheer, and football. Mackenize hated being a cheerleader because she would be stuck on the sideline knowing that she could run faster than half the guys on the football team. Later on, her sports fan experience was shared with her next door neighbors, Shirlee and Don Dreyer. “They were like another set of grandparents to me. They always had season tickets to the Miami Dolphins, Heat, and Marlins so I would always tag along.”
Ms. Thirkill started her career by writing about college football, but during her last semester of college she got the opportunity of a lifetime. As she was looking for jobs, she came across a very odd craigslist ad stating sports writer coming out with book needs assistant must be okay with dog and cat. To this day, Mackenize does not know why she responded to that odd listing, but thirty minutes after she responded, she received an email from sports business reporter for ESPN Kristi Dosh. After spending a year under Mrs. Dosh, Mackenize started interning for her sports radio station where she practiced reading off a teleprompter and from there everything started to fall into place.
On a day to day basis, Ms. Thirkill’s work environment is full of amazing people who encourage her daily and provide her with feedback to build on her skills. Her biggest motivators that helped her the most were her next door neighbors, the Dreyers, and her parents. The biggest challenge that Mackenize faces is being a perfectionist. She states that everyone is their own worst critic, but sometimes she takes it too far. Ms. Thirkill would watch herself on replay and pick out the smallest details that she needs to work on. Her biggest obstacle right now is learning how not to be that critical of herself.
As soccer continues to grow as a popular sport in America many reporters/analysts do not know how to cover it. Ms. Thirkill stated, “I grew up playing soccer, so I was already familiar with the sport. The biggest thing for me was learning about the league in general, since I never followed it, and learning how to report on it correctly. Even though I played for years, I still went out and bought books on soccer and watched a lot of games to see what other reporters were asking to better prepare myself.” As the host of the Orlando City Lions, Mackenize is always ready for game days! She loves the live aspect of it and just rolling with the punches, weather the team is winning or losing you are continuously on your feet.
The sports industry is becoming more diversified with many women who are creating careers in the sports industry. Ms. Thirkill emphasized that no job is too small to pass on, because coming into this field it is not about the amount of money you make but about the people you meet. People in this industry are always watching even when you think they are not. It is important to put yourself out there and not restrict yourself to one particular idea. In hosting and reporting she shares that it is all about repetition and knowing your stuff. “I had zero hosting experience without a teleprompter and I would sit in the mirror and practice and my poor producer had to suffer from me bombarding him with hundreds of questions. That’s another thing people will always answer whatever questions you have. Trust me, I’ve asked some stupid questions.” By pushing herself from being a sideline reporter to a host, it allowed Mackenize to be out of her comfort zone and to grow professionally. Ms. Thirkill has learned to go with the flow and not try to plan out what her future career has in store for her. Never in her wildest dreams did she think that she would be covering soccer or even hosting a show, but Mackenize has learned it is better to just let things come naturally.