Behind the Mic: Getting to know Rachel Nichols
Whether she’s hosting her own television sports show in the studio, reporting on the sidelines, or watching games in her free time, Rachel Nichols has a passion for all things sports.
The self-proclaimed “tech nerd” also recently described her interest in technology and how sports teams are now integrating tech before, after, and during games. Certain technological developments help athletes play at a higher level, with NBA coaches now using iPads to make strategy adjustments based on videos shot in real time. Another example – football teams are using ‘smart’ practice jerseys to monitor hydration and breathing, so players know when to rest and when to go harder. “Athletes’ motions are being mapped by lasers, so if the way a player runs puts more stress on, say, one knee, that can be discovered, spotted and corrected, before a knee injury ever even happens,” said Rachel. “Tech that keeps my favorite players on the field and out of the training room? Yes please.”
What has been the strategy that has helped her grow throughout her career? Hard work.
“I know this sounds basic, but it’s shocking how many people don’t do it: just try to outwork everyone else around you. You will learn more, succeed more, and show the people above you that you will not stop until you come through for them,” said Rachel. “In the end, a few of the people around you will work as hard as you do, and advance right alongside you. Most of them won’t.”
Fueled by her love for coffee, Rachel described what keeps her motivated and how she doesn’t let a fear of failure get in the way of her goals. “I’ve had tons of failures, and you overcome them by understanding you’re gonna have tons of failures. Too often, we talk about failure as a destination – as in, ‘that ended in failure.’ But failure is only the end of the road if you stop moving forward,” said Rachel. “If you keep going, then it’s just something that happened to you along the way to your success.”
Nichols also shared her secret tool that helps her be more productive. She uses online transcription apps to save time, and said it’s great for reporters for transcribing an interview as well as a great tool for students who find it difficult to take notes during a lecture.
An avid reader, she recommends the book Make Your Bed by William McRaven. “It’s short, to the point, and applies to everyone, plus the colorful examples McRaven gives from his career as a Navy SEAL are never boring,” said Rachel. “Also, I’m a huge believer in the power of making your bed every morning (even on weekends), so I’m pretty happy that’s where he chose to start.”
The two-time Emmy-award winner has worked as a TV host, reporter, and anchor, with over 25 years of experience. Known for her authentic and personable interview style, her knowledge and passion for sports play a major role both on and off camera. She also has an additional Emmy nomination for “Best Host,” becoming only the second woman ever nominated amongst more than 200 nominees in the award’s prestigious 42-year history.
In 2016, Rachel Nichols created and hosted The Jump. The NBA-centric show was called “TV’s smartest basketball show” by Sports Illustrated due to its innovative mix of opinions from some of the biggest names in Sports, on-location reporting, and candid conversations with some of the game’s greatest players and coaches. The show grew a following and became one of the must-see shows on television for not just fans, but players, coaches, and NBA executives as well.
Prior to creating The Jump, Rachel Nichols was an anchor and reporter at CNN and Turner Sports, working on the sidelines at NBA and NCAA Tournament broadcasts. She was a CNN studio analyst and host of Unguarded with Rachel Nichols.
Her co-workers, colleagues, and friends also appreciate her dedication and drive. Dwyane Wade described Rachel’s ambition in his recently released memoir: “Take Rachel Nichols, for example. She’s always getting big interviews in the big moments because there’s a big-time respect factor. We as players know she’s going to ask the questions that matter, but more importantly, she’s going to treat each story with the nuance and care it deserves. She’s a true professional in every sense of the word,” said Wade.
It’s no wonder why Sports Illustrated also called Rachel “the country’s most impactful and prominent female sports journalist.” One thing that sets Rachel apart throughout her career is speaking truth to power. She’s not afraid to ask the tough questions. “It’s about working really hard and knowing what you’re talking about and doing the extra thing all the time and having good ideas,” said Rachel.
The motto she lives by? Her favorite quote is “Sometimes it’s the very people who no one imagines anything of, who do the things no one can imagine.”