A Woman to Know: Betsy Ross
Ever since Betsy Ross sat in her rural Indiana sixth grade classroom, she knew exactly what she wanted to be: a journalist. “I love writing and love the way words let you communicate, and I wanted to be in some form of journalism ever since I was in grade school,” she says.
Starting out, Ross worked at WLWT-TV covering the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Since there were more than a dozen local athletes involved in the trials and games that year, she started covering Olympic Trials events for NBC and NBC News Channel. At the same time, ESPN was preparing to launching its 24-hour sports news outlet ESPNews. “They were looking for someone who knew sports but had a news background,” she explains, “so it was right up my alley.”
Ross landed the job and worked for ESPN for five years. She commuted each week from Connecticut to Cincinnati, coming home on her days off. However, she says that after post-Sept. 11, air travel became difficult, time-consuming, and stressful. Plus, her mother was in her early 80s. As a result, she took a step back and analyzed her situation, and decided that she wanted to be in Cincinnati full time.
After making this transition, she was able to cover Ohio State’s national championship run with Fox19. In a span of just three weeks, she was able to cover two last-second wins and one overtime victory by Ohio’s beloved Buckeyes. “My first Ohio State-Michigan game, I got to stand on the field – an assignment a lot of people would fight for,” says Ross. “Covering games was an opportunity I never had at ESPN – I always joke I had to leave ESPN to be able to cover sports!”
Shortly thereafter, Ross and her business partner Jackie Reau talked about starting a sports public relations business. “There weren’t any agencies with a focus on both sports and public relations,” she says. “It was a niche in the market we could fill.” So, in July 2002, Ross and Reau launched Game Day Communications, which just celebrated its 12th year in business.
While Game Day offers corporate public relations and media training as well as travel and tourism services, Ross says that about 60 percent of what they do has something to do with sports.
Ross says that the future of Game Day is always evolving, but its main mission remains consistent: serving their clients to the best of their abilities. “That means keeping up with communication trends, which seem to change every day,” she laughs, “listening to client needs, learning how to best reach their audience and being accessible at any hour.”
In addition to running the agency, Ross also teaches at Xavier University and Indiana University. She says this is something she’s always wanted to do because it helps the next generation of sports professionals continue to grow. Being in a learning environment helps Ross, too, as she makes a point to learn something new every day. “I never want to stop the learning process,” Ross adds. “Education, I feel, is the difference between settling and succeeding, and I never want to settle.”
In addition to the work that she does with Game Day, Ross also serves as the voice of Paul Brown Stadium and the University of Cincinnati women’s basketball, soccer, lacrosse and tennis teams. Other projects that she’s working on include a 10-minute segment on Cincinnati’s NPR called The FrontRow with Betsy Ross and calling play-by-play for college women’s basketball for FOX Sports Ohio and FOX. In 2011, she released a book called Playing Ball With the Boys: The Rise of Women in Men’s Sports, which features interviews with women such as Billie Jean King, Phyllis George, Janet Guthrie, Christine Brennan and Lesley Visser.
“I always think that for a little girl who attended a one room school in rural Indiana, It’s been a pretty fun ride,” she laughs. “I’ve exceeded my wildest dreams.”