There are perhaps 20 women out of about 80 people in the digital media department at the NFL Network in Los Angeles, but that’s up from the 10 or so who worked there last year.
But those numbers haven’t discouraged Brenna Haven, 23, from pursuing her dream of making a name for herself in the sports media world.
As an editor and producer of digital media at the NFL Network, Haven, a Rockville native, wears many hats. She is responsible for cutting videos, capturing game highlights, producing online content and readying materials for the daily show. Sundays, of course, are even busier for Haven, who works on the live show cutting highlights every half-hour.
Haven has loved sports from a young age. She played basketball competitively for 11 years, including on travel teams, but realized around bat mitzvah age that a career as a professional athlete wasn’t in her future.
Her father encouraged her to look into sports broadcasting. Haven immediately found a role model in Erin Andrews, host of FOX College Football and former co-host of College GameDay on ESPN.
“[Andrews] was one of the first people I looked up to,” said Haven. “Her being on the court, on the field interviewing coaches — you can tell that she really does the research.”
A strong work ethic served Haven well at Miami University in Ohio where she double-majored in journalism and sports studies. While in school, Haven wanted to interview a senior member of the basketball team who was preparing to enter the NBA draft. Her teacher was doubtful that the coach would go for it.
“I did all my research, contacted the coach and got permission. I did the interview, set up a whole broadcast segment for it and was one of the best in the class,” said Haven. “My teacher still shows it in his class all these years later. He doubted me in the beginning, and now it’s one of his go-to projects.”
For Haven, it boils down to being prepared.
“You have to know what you’re talking about. If you don’t know what you’re talking about you’re shunned a bit, pushed to the back,” said Haven.
Women in her field “have to be present and available to do things at any time, as opposed to the men, who get handed things a bit more.” She added, “I don’t want to look like another woman who wants to be in sports just to be close to the athletes.”
There may not be a lot of women in her field, but there are plenty of Jews, she said, recalling a recent workplace conversation about Chanukah. A bit of Jewish geography played a role in how Haven got to the network.
While out for dinner in Washington, Haven’s grandparents ran into a young man who graduated from Churchill High School who had also made the cross-country move to Los Angeles. Long story short, Haven’s resume was passed along and made it into the hands of the Churchill graduate’s golf buddy, who is now Haven’s boss.
Now Haven, a Redskins fan “born and raised,” has been at the network for close to two years honing her craft while working with retired football players.
Maurice Jones-Drew, who played for the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Oakland Raiders, stands out among the football personalities Haven works with at the NFL Network. Jones-Drew is an analyst for NFL Now on the network.
“He’s very personable, thankful, appreciative of what we do,” said Haven. “He likes to tell his stories to us about being in the league. He wants to know where we came from and share where he came from.”
It’s valuable insight for Haven as she continues to make her mark in a male-dominated industry.