Metro Detroit’s die-hard affection for sports is a constant reminder to Katrina Hancock that she’s not in Kansas anymore. In December, when Hancock took the reins of Sports Final Edition on WDIV-TV, where she’s also the station’s weekend sports anchor/reporter, she quickly learned the importance of being a fan in this top-20 media market.
The 30-year-old is unusual in that she’s a female in a testosterone-dominated profession. The 6-foot 3-inch reporter knows her stuff, however. She was redshirted in volleyball her freshman year at Wichita State University and played basketball at Bradley University in Illinois for three years.
During a recent chat at Channel 4’s downtown studios, Hancock fielded questions about women sportscasters, fans, and locker-room etiquette.
This is a busy time of year for pro sports. With overlapping baseball, hockey, and football, how do you keep it all straight?
You do as much as you can with the time you have. The toughest so far was during the Wings and Pistons playoffs. You have practice, games, playoffs, and you’re pulled in so many directions.
As a sportscaster, is being female a hindrance or a benefit?
It’s both. I feel like I’ve had to work 10 times harder than any man just to prove myself. I’m tall, I’m blond, and I’m female, and that’s three strikes against me. On the flip side, I can get a lot of people to talk to me, and that helps. Detroit has a lot of female sportswriters and a few women on radio and Jennifer Hammond at Fox 2. Detroit is interesting like that. And the other men in this market have embraced me. They’re all super nice to me, and that’s a blessing.
You don’t come from a big pro-sports state. How did you wind up as a sports reporter?
I played. And when I got into my communications classes, it fit; it was me. What really sealed the deal was two months into the business I was in Cheyenne, Wyo., … my first job. I covered my first NBA game, the Lakers vs. the Nuggets. That night I interviewed Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and Phil Jackson. I did all of those interviews, and then I ran to the car, called my mom, and said, “This is it; this is where I’m supposed to be.”
Does your height give you some advantage?
Yes. A lot of NBA players, I’m looking them eye to eye, or I’m pretty close to their height. I can see over everybody in the locker room.
What have you discovered so far about Detroit?
Everybody’s a sports-aholic. It doesn’t matter what season you’re in, it doesn’t matter who’s playing. I have received more phone calls and e-mails in this market than in the three previous combined — good and bad. I respond to everything.
What’s it like to be a female sportscaster in a men’s locker room?
Don’t look down. I have a job to do when I go in there, and I’m very focused. I learned that early in my career. Go in, get the sound bites you need, and get out.