Suzy Kolber would be at the biggest national championship press conferences with 250 credentialed media members -- nearly all of them men. She would sit in the front row and ask the first question.
This wasn’t because she wanted to prove a point or make a statement. It just felt natural.
“When I first started, there were very, very few women,” the ESPN broadcaster said. “I honestly never felt different because I was doing what I loved.”
Kolber, who graduated from Upper Dublin High in Montgomery County (class of 1982) and the University of Miami, was inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday night at the Rivers Casino. Her career has led to covering events across the world, but she has an unbreakable bond with Philly.
“It’s home," Kolber said. "If you’ve grown up or worked here, you have an edge that’s noticeable, and I’ve always been really proud of carrying that edge.”
Kolber started behind the scenes as a producer and got her first on-air job in West Palm Beach, Fla. That’s where that edge she carried was first displayed; when she stood out in the hiring process.
“I was really happy it came down to a guy and I," Kolber said. “It wasn’t like they were just looking for a woman, they were looking for the right person.”
Kolber worked in Florida from 1985-1993 and won a local Sports Emmy in 1988. She left for ESPN in 1993, and the rest is history.
Kolber has been a regular host on NFL Live, NFL32 with Chris Mortensen, NFL Insiders, and SportsCenter. She has also covered NASCAR, tennis, horse racing, and the Summer and Winter X Games. She left ESPN for Fox Sports in 1996 but returned in 1999.
One of the most memorable parts of Kolber’s career was how she elevated the sideline reporter’s role during ESPN’s prime-time NFL broadcasts. It wasn’t common to see women on the sideline reporting on NFL games, but Kolber helped shift that narrative.
“I think initially it was the audiences that had to get used to seeing me. It wasn’t something new for me, it was more new for them,” Kolber said. “I think they accepted me because you could tell I knew what I was talking about and really loved it.”
Today, Kolber mentors women who are trying to enter the business. She always tells them to make sure they’re entering the business for the right reasons. Being knowledgeable and respectful of who you’re interviewing and working with are two of the things she emphasizes most.
“It’s not about celebrity or TV," she said. "Do you really love sports, and are you willing to work harder than everyone else? If you have those two things, then, why not?”