This week on the blog we hear from Jeremy Lee who runs a sports podcast here in YYC called, Reading The Play. As we get closer to the 2021 Summer Olympics Games in Tokyo Jeremy gives us a play by play on how he got into sports podcasting, athlete's stories and their journey going to the Olympic Games and more about his story. Continue reading to find out more!
Let's dive into it!
“Hey what’s going on? I’m Jeremy Lee and you are listening to ``Reading the Play”!
From a young age, I’ve always had a love and appreciation for all things in the sports world. There were a couple of key factors that built up my obsession.
First, I noticed that every sport showcased a different part of what the human body can accomplish and its infinite potential. I found witnessing the hunger and drive from the next generation of athletes to become faster, stronger and more athletic was arguably one of the most exciting things about sport.
The second factor I found fascinating was the human-interest side. I observed that athletes come from all different backgrounds and upbringings, which makes every story unique. However, despite the varied situations, I noticed two common denominators with athletes - the ability to overcome adversity and the determination to be better. Sports fans or not, an athlete’s story has the potential to be universally inspiring.
I always knew sports would be a big part of my life; I just didn’t know how it would ‘play out’. Knowing I was blessed with non-athletic genes, working on the media and production side of sports seemed like a realistic option for me to be involved in that field. Upon completion of my Broadcast Journalism diploma from SAIT and a Bachelor’s of Communication Studies from the University of Calgary, I found myself immersed in Calgary’s vibrant volleyball community–--doing play by-play webcasts for both the SAIT Trojans and U of C Dinos. Shortly after, I also had the opportunity to work on the public relations team with the Calgary Inferno of the CWHL. This led to working with some of the top female hockey players in North America with a boatload of Olympic medals and World Championships among them.
Working in the midst of two high-intensity sports was exciting, but something was still missing. I felt I was still searching for that next level, which I eventually discovered was getting to know the players - understanding how they thought, why they made certain decisions, what motivated them to keep improving. Gaining
access to the athletes’ unique perspectives provided more context and understanding for fans than merely their performance in a game.
At the time, my only channels of reaching the athletes were by conducting short in game/post-game interviews or getting a quick audio clip for a press release. The generic responses were typically superficial and empty, not really adding much substance. Ironically, speaking to the athletes was slowly developing into my least favourite part of the job, but only because I was so limited. What I was looking for was a way to engage the athletes on a deeper level instead of constantly pounding my head against the thick wall of sports clichés.
I never thought I would ever get into the podcasting world, as the traditional methods of broadcasting and writing were the only opportunities I saw at the time. However, as I began listening to more podcasts, I realized the idea of conversing with athletes through that medium was increasingly appealing. I was drawn to the idea of having an in-depth conversation with an athlete outside of their competitive environment - in a different headspace and away from game-time external factors (teammates, coaches, meetings, fans, etc.). I found that the conversations I was looking for could not exist during game-day as those external factors typically proved overwhelming, due to the athletes’ physical and mental exhaustion throughout a game.
Armed with that concept, I began researching the different components of a podcast: equipment, editing software, interview process, marketing/promotions, etc. Surprisingly, I learned that starting a podcast would be more viable than I had expected. And thus, ‘Reading the Play - with Jeremy Lee’ was born.
This podcast has continued to evolve into a platform where athletes and sports media figures enter the sanctum that is #StoryIsland and share stories, experiences and perspectives around what it takes to compete at the highest levels of sport. I believe having athletes dissect some of the key decisions they made (ie. which sport to focus on, which post-secondary school to choose, which skills to develop, etc.) can bring clarity to young ears who may be lacking a sense of direction for different parts of their own athletic journeys. Ironically, as much as the athlete provides helpful insights for the next wave of young talent, our conversations have also unexpectedly proven to be just as beneficial and therapeutic for my guests. I’ve heard this exercise being referred to as “an intense walk down memory lane.”
The more stories I can help bring to the surface, the more examples there will be available to normalize the struggles and adversities that come with being a high-
performance athlete. My hope is that these episodes impact, inspire and ignite my listeners to win their day.
Dear Athletes…what’s your story? Let’s connect!