In the latest instalment of Industry Insider, Georgie Heath shares her journey and what’s it like to work in a variety of sports…
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
Hello I’m Georgie Heath! I always find it hard to make a short sentence of what I do and my exact role but I guess in a nutshell I would say sports reporter / commentator / presenter / journalist and sometimes social media specialist.
The main sport I work in is cricket but I’ve also worked in tennis, athletics, netball, lacrosse, football and a dabble in rugby. I also pop up here and there on bits of telly usually talking about cricket or women’s sport – Sky Sports and BBC News and Sport. Basically, if it’s a sport, count me in!
Commentary work: U19 Women’s Cricket World Cup, Women’s Cricket World Cup regional qualifiers, Charlotte Edwards Cup and Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, The Fly Lacrosse, Euro Sixes Lacrosse Championships, Lacrosse Nations Cup in Dresden, FairBreak 2022/2023
Radio work: talkSPORT, BBC Woman’s hour, LBC, BBC Local radios
TV Appearances: I won celebrity pointless!!! Sky Sports, BBC News, talkTV
Social media work: Queen’s Tennis Champs for LTA 2022/23, UCI Cycling World Championships in Glasgow 2023, FairBreak 2022/2023, Formula E
I’ve written in a freelance capacity for a number of publications but have also worked as a runner for Sky Sports, a cricket and golf production assistant at outside broadcaster CTV, a Gappie and netball coach in Sydney and unavoidably, as my Mum runs a catering business, I’ve done a LOT of waitressing and cooking (And still do).
What do you do in your current role?
Sometimes it’s easier to ask what I don’t do because it’s a bit of here there and everywhere. But I’ve just come back from commentating on the Asia Region Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifiers, I’m freelance writing for Athletics Weekly and 5th QTR England Netball Magazine, doing some sports updates on Times Radio and LBC, bits and bobs reporting for talkSPORT mainly on cricket.
I’m always looking ahead to what I can do next – right now I’m trying to find more presenting and reporting work and that hunting in itself is like a full-time job!!
“Normal” isn’t a thing in sport so what does an “average” week look like for you?
Regardless of what I’m doing, how much work I have, or where I am EVERY day has some kind of walk/exercise in it. It’s the best way to manage my anxiety, give my brain a bit of love, and take time.
Sometimes this could be in the dark, mega early before an early meeting but getting it in ALWAYS helps. If I’m home and not working on an event, then it’s a day in a café plugging away with either freelance writing, research for the next comms stint, arranging and interviewing guests for my Women’s Cricket Chat podcast or interviewing and researching athletes and players for articles.
There can be some very slow times in my job too when I might not have a lot on so I have to be mindful to keep motivation and energy at these times and keep plugging away for whatever might be next. But then, when I’m off working at an event it’s a complete contrast and it can be go go go.
When I’m working in cricket, I’ll get up for a game that starts at 10 so I will arrive at 8:30am for the toss at 9. Then a second game in the arvo. Then I’m usually still freelance writing around that so have to find the time for that too! Plus time to explore the country too. It’s a bit hectic! And of course I have to FaceTime home to check on my dog!
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I’ve always wanted to work in sports (except when I went though an obsession with watching Casualty and wanted to be a paramedic for a while!)
In Junior School, we had to dress up as what you wanted to be when you grow up and I went as a cricketer…sadly that never materialised but the opportunities for women to work in sport in other capacities have increased so much in that time since 10-year-old me was taught about the future.
To be honest, it’s been a weird journey. I HATED English lessons at school except when we got to do speeches or presentations. I loved reading but learning about the book and writing essays always ruined it for me. So, it’s funny that I’m a journalist now!
I studied psychology at Uni but also did a sports radio show on Uni radio for a while and loved it (even when hungover.) When I left Uni, I was pretty poorly with an eating disorder and spent time in an inpatient unit but when I was released I tried to channel my recovery and into my future rather than my illness.
That’s when I enrolled on an NCTJ Journalism diploma and spent the next year working on that with a sports module on the side. It was through that course that I found out about a Cricket Writer’s Club competition around the 2019 Cricket World Cup so I entered and made it through all the stages eventually winning the competition and getting the chance to write for the ICC at the final at Lord’s. That was simply surreal.
I had a job interview the next morning for an online publication and could barely speak but it seemed to come across and I got the job.
Then post-pandemic, it was all over the place and I did a LOT of DM sliding on Twitter, LinkedIn and LITERALLY ANYWHERE. I even did CV drops in random shops. There’s been a LOT of work for nothing and a hell of a lot of being that irritating person who messages EVERYONE. But it’s a “don’t ask, don’t get” kind of world, isn’t it? It still sometimes feels like this but the more work you do, the more people come to you and the more you get known. It is VERY rare that I say no to anything (that often includes a proper night’s sleep!) but I’m here working my butt off and I hope that shows in my work.
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
Doing something I’m proud of and something that means something, ESPECIALLY when it comes to women’s sport. It’s all very well talking about sport and writing about it but if it’s just useless words and something anyone can do then why not replace me with a robot?
I like to be able to tell the story in a way others might not be able to while bringing life, excitement and a bit of a spark to my work. Whether that be a pun on air or a quip in an article, then if it puts a smile on someone’s face or my work teaches them something new or brings in a new audience, then great!
Can you tell us about a time you failed and what you learned from it?
One that really sticks out for me is when I applied for a BBC New Voices scheme back in 2021. I put so much time and effort and work into my application and tried not to get my hopes up but really thought I had nailed it. It took an extra long time for the verdict to come in because apparently they had so many applicants but every time my emails went off I got this little heart jump. Then when it did come in and said I hadn’t got it, I cried a lot. I didn’t think I would and I tried to hold it in. But my God I cried a lot haha! It took a couple of days of moping and a trip to Oxford Street but I got back on the horse and continued plugging away and finding other opportunities.
I messaged anyone and everyone and admitted my desire to build from this disappointment and learned that sometimes things just don’t come around like you expect and you have to get up, pull your big girl pants back on and have a cry if you need to. But the crying doesn’t have to last and soon enough you’ll channel it in a positive way rather than feeling rubbish.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
I can’t look past the incredible growth of women’s sport in this country, the number of women working in the industry and the UNSTOPPABLE rise of women’s sport. I’m always excited and proud to even play a small part in it. Yes, there are still huge steps to be taken and a lot of work to be done BUT things are moving in the right direction and there has already been such an amazing amount of positive change.
if you could change one thing about your Industry, what would you change?
I would completely change gender equality in sport – not just for players but for coaches, umpires, journalists, broadcasters and beyond. I would love to see this extend to social media too and eradicate some of the abhorrent behaviour we see on there when people are talking about women in sport.
Sport is a hectic industry, what do you do to switch off?
That’s a tricky one, because I love watching sport for fun but it’s sometimes hard to watch for pleasure without feeling like I’m working. Luckily with a beer in hand, it feels much more like a switch off. But I LOVE a long dog walk especially in the sun and I’m a BIG fan of bake-off, baking, heading home to see my Mum or catching a drink with friends.
I still play lacrosse so love that on a Sunday (if not too cold) and need to get back into playing more tennis and netball too I think. I’m currently thinking about taking up a pottery class as I am obsessed with the great pottery throw-down. So, maybe my perk up cuppa will one day be out of a mug I made myself!
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
I’ve got more than one…sorry!
- Be prepared to graft bloody hard especially as a freelancer. But also be understanding that it can be a slow and arduous process. I have to graft every day and I believe I am still a long way from where I dream of being (that face you see a lot when you turn the sport on your TV) but at the same time, I am so proud of what I’ve achieved so far. Sometimes you have to stop and use those quieter times when you haven’t got a lot on to reflect on what you HAVE achieved and appreciate some time to rest. I often look at 2018 when I was sat in an Eating Disorder hospital not allowed to drive, fly or even pee on my own and take stock on how far I’ve come from there.
- Try not to compare where you are to where others are. I find this very hard and am still learning to manage my own brain on this one. But, as cliché as it sounds, everyone’s journey is different and if you get stuck in and put yourself out there, I guarantee there will be other people out there looking at your journey and celebrating you too.
- A final one, and this is a bit of a weird one #StrangerDanger but reach out to others in the industry whether it be on twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn – there are so many people out there in your corner and in the same seasick boat. I’ve actually made some great friends in the industry through social media and it can be a really nice community. People share stories, opportunities and sometimes just a bit of love and it’s such a lovely reminder that, even though you don’t go into an office and see workmates every day (I’m writing this from a Pret with my dog) you still have a group and a community there with you.
How to connect with Georgie Heath…