Alanna Rizzo didn’t always want to be a sports reporter, but after some soul-searching nearly 16 years ago and a lot of hard work, she’s become one of Major League Baseball’s premier on-air personalities for the Dodgers.
After graduating from the University of Colorado with an undergraduate degree in international business, Rizzo worked in the beverage and hotel industry doing sales and marketing. After a while, however, it didn’t make her happy like it once did.
“I didn’t grow up a baseball fan at all,” Rizzo said. “I had an epiphany between Christmas and New Year’s of 2001, I had a really bad cold and I thought, ‘What could I do if money wasn’t an object?’
“I just have always had a passion for sports and have always enjoyed being in sports in some form or fashion. It was at that moment that I decided to go back to school and get a master’s in journalism and pursue my passion of sports. That’s really the only thing that, at the time, I had any interest in. I’m kind of just following a dream.”
From there, the CU grad began her long journey in journalism in a small town in Texas, where she operated as a one-woman sports department for the local television station. The journey later took her to Madison, Wis. Not long after that, she returned to her Colorado home and made a name for herself with the Rockies, while covering CU and the University of Denver on the side.
Rizzo quickly became a household name for Rockies fans everywhere, and she said she wouldn’t trade working in baseball for anything.
“This is a lot more fun,” Rizzo said. “This is something that doesn’t feel like a job on most days. We have the opportunity to cover a major league team and travel all over the country, and fortunately, I’ve been very lucky in the jobs that I’ve had, for sure.”
While there can certainly be a lot of perks working in professional sports, baseball journalists like Rizzo must be willing to make sacrifices every day, or rather, for 183 very long days.
“It is exhausting,” Rizzo said. “I think the worst thing about this job, covering a baseball team, is the schedule. You don’t have a life. Once spring training hits, you’re basically working every single day for eight months straight. They play 162 games in 183 days, so that’s tough to do. The schedule’s horrendous. Apart from that, though, it’s a lot of fun.”
Women in sports can often experience setbacks in their careers based on sexism, but Rizzo said that that’s never been a problem for her.
“I think more so than just being a woman in sports, I think anything, whether it’s a woman or man, you just have to be prepared,” Rizzo said. “You need to do your homework, and you need to ask intelligent questions. I think players will eventually see that they can respect that you do and the work ethic that you have. I don’t think being a woman has given me any advantages, but I certainly don’t think this provided any disadvantages either.”
Whatever the reason for someone’s passion to work in sports, Rizzo’s advice for them is simple.
“I would say work hard. I would say be prepared to move and be prepared to make some sacrifices,” she said. “I get young women that come up to me all the time, whether it’s in person or via email or what have you, that want to get in the business. Sometimes, the first things they say to me are, ‘I don’t want to move.’ Well, I didn’t want to leave Colorado, either, but there’s some times you have to make sacrifices and move, and that’s part of the job.
“There’s something to be said for paying your dues and working your way up and doing a lot of different jobs so you can appreciate those jobs later when you have a crew and you have the resources. Work hard, be prepared, be professional, and you better have thick skin, because this industry will eat you alive.”
Now, her hard work has paid off, as she holds one of the most-coveted jobs in Major League Baseball as the Dodgers TV beat reporter. It’s hard to believe her success will stop there.