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Casey Phillips, Reporter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

by carmine on July 14, 2016

Casey Phillips, Reporter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
By: Sam Silver

Spotlight Athlete Archive

Being a woman in a man’s world isn’t always easy, but being a Christian woman in the world of sports? That is another feat. Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter Casey Phillips lives it every day.

“I think that to be a sports broadcaster, sometimes what you are told you need to be successful is counter to the Christian view of things,” said Phillips. She explained how it can be a field that promotes a prideful attitude; for example, trying to get as much face-time and name recognition as possible, while Christ teaches humility.

“You also have to be in a locker room setting that many people would consider to be the opposite of being called to lead a very modest life and keeping yourself in a pure environment,” Phillips said. “It’s the opposite of what would be easiest for a Christian life, but that can also make it the most rewarding place life because it is so easy to standout.”

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Phillips was raised in the church, but her faith did not become her own personal faith until she was about 15. She went to a youth group event and witnessed contemporary worship for the first time. When she saw people worshipping with their hands raised and eyes closed, she thought they were nuts at first.

“I thought they were so weird and was wondering what was going on, so I started reading the words on the screen of the song and the whole idea of how much God loves us was just a mind blowing experience. It wasn’t just about going to church. It was this actual, personal relationship.”

Sports broadcasting is something that Phillips has known that God has wanted her to do for a long time. “Ninety percent of it has to do with things that have happened with my job. I’ve just seen how clearly He has opened doors and shoved me through them.”

When she was seventeen, Phillips worked at her school broadcast station where students got experience behind an anchor desk. The broadcast teacher gave one student the opportunity once a year to interview for an internship. She chose Phillips to interview with the Dallas Mavericks and Fox Sports Southwest. Because she would be competing with college seniors, the goal wasn’t to actually get the interviews, but simply to gain interview experience.

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“I didn’t have a résumé. I was just walking in there to see what interviews were like, and then I got both of them! To me, if that’s not a God moment I don’t know what is.” Phillips went on to work both of those internships that summer, working twelve-hour days, driving from one to the other.

The next year at school, Phillips ended up being the only varsity basketball player in the offseason program, along with a handful of freshman.

“At that moment I was kind of tempted to pull my rank a little bit, since I was captain of the team, point guard, and a senior. Then I thought no, that’s not what Christ wants me to be like. He wants me to love and mentor these girls.”

Low and behold the Lord opens another door. It turns out that one freshman’s father was the main anchor for CBS and the Cowboys. He approached Phillips after a game and told her that his daughter had mentioned how nice Phillips was, and how she was a Christian, and that she wanted to work in broadcasting. He said he wanted to help and put her in touch with people at both companies.

From the age of 17 to 21-years-old, Phillips interned with the Mavericks that first year, Fox Sports Southwest three years in a row, CBS in Dallas two different years, and the Dallas Cowboys two different years as well.

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Phillips went on to attend the University of Missouri for its broadcast program, where students work for and run the local NBC affiliate. She obtained her Bachelors and Masters degrees and was finally about to graduate and get the job she had been working for all this time, when she tore her ACL two months before graduation.

“Being a reporter you are constantly on the move carrying your own equipment and I literally couldn’t. I remember being so frustrated with God and not understanding how He clearly prepared me for this and now that it was time, I couldn’t do it.”

With her torn ACL, Phillips decided to take a public relations internship with Disney where she would manage the social media accounts, sit in on marketing meetings, and do a little broadcasting. “I remember being so worried and nervous that this was going to derail everything because if you take any time off in the broadcast world, you are done; especially as a woman. What if I’ve worked all these years and this is it?”

The internship ended up being a great experience for Phillips. She found an opening to work with the Washington Wizards. At that time, teams had not been hiring their own reporters because social media and web coverage wasn’t the force six years ago it is now. 300 other people ended up applying for this job and Phillips thought, “no way I’m getting this job. I don’t know a soul. Well, I ended up getting it and they said I got it because of the experience I had gotten at Disney and all of the marketing and social media skills I had.”

The ACL tear that seemed like the worst possible situation ended up being the blessing that jump-started the rest of her career. After Phillips worked for the Wizards for two years, she applied online for the St. Louis Rams, again alongside hundreds of other people and got the job.

“All of these things only make sense with God because, who am I?”

One day when the Rams were in Tampa playing the Bucs, Phillips’s boss also travelled with the team for the first time. He shared with Phillips it was because he was from Tampa. She then told her boss how she loves Florida and had applied to work with the Bucs a few years back, but they ended up not hiring anyone for the position. A few months later her boss took a job with the Bucs and called Phillips with a job offer.

It was a blessing in disguise that Phillips did not get hired that first time she had applied because the coach at the time was not a fan of reporters, especially female reporters. Since God’s timing is always the right timing, Phillips was able to start out working for the Bucs with amazing staff and in an environment where she thrives as a reporter.

“My whole life in Tampa has really been built around my church, which is only two years old and did not exist back then when I had first applied. So all these reasons that I had been upset I didn’t get hired the first time, the timing was completely wrong. It was almost like God had put a little bug in my ear of me wanting to work in Tampa, but not yet. If I had never had that desire for the job for the first time, I never would have mentioned it to my boss for him to even know I wanted to do this.”

With Phillips’ experience and faith, she has the ability to make a big impact on the city and team. Working for the team instead of an outside media outlet, allows her to be positive in her coverage, as well as gain the inside access to try to influence the members of the team and staff.

“All of these things that have happened and even things I thought were terrible at the time, were God just setting things up and completely directing my steps.”

Being in the public eye, as a woman in sports, comes with the responsibility of upholding your reputation.

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“You have to be above reproach, and it’s not about me not doing anything wrong, it’s making sure that there isn’t the slightest appearance that something could be wrong and having to care so much about perception. I know people are expecting me to slip up. I have to get rid of the negative assumptions before I can pursue the positive ones so I do everything possible to make sure I’m perceived in a way that people can’t question my motives at all.”

With this being said, Phillips has more great advice for young women looking to get into the industry and women that are already there.

“Know that it is your responsibility how you carry yourself, but it is not your responsibility how others act. I thought for a long time that as long as I did what I could and act in a way to demand respect that there are still going to be people that don’t respond the way they are supposed to, and don’t treat you with respect but that’s not your fault. I am dressing and acting in a way that says I am representing Christ to the best of my ability because that is who I want to be perceived as. It was hard for me at first because when a guy would say something inappropriate I would think that I did not do what I needed to do and that’s not true. Some people haven’t learned how to respect women. Just don’t get caught up in what other people are doing, just worry about yourself and the way you are representing Christ and the rest will take care of itself. I didn’t have a Christian woman to look up to so I would like to be that for women so that there will be more of us in the future.”

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