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Julie Stewart-Binks Talks Hockey and more

Photographer: Bobby Quillard

 

Everybody dreams of calling that game winning goal or walk-off home run and Julie Stewart-Binks lives that dream. Julie is a Canadian that works rinkside for the Anaheim Ducks and works sidelines of MLS games. Who could not love her job or want to have her job? She doesn’t just do because it’s her job, she does it because of her love of sports.

Growing up in Canada, hockey is life and Julie knows all about that. Playing Canada’s pastime as a kid and still to do this day keeps her centered when she has some downtime, which is tough to come by. Inspired by the trailblazers that came before her led Julie to being one of the most sought after sideline reporters right now. Not only is Julie working at ESPN but she is still platooning back to L.A. to cover the Anaheim Ducks in the playoffs for Fox Sports West. Consider us extremely jealous of your job.

As humble as Julie is about her job, let us tell you that she is extremely passionate about all sports and will school you with her knowledge. If you have a job that Julie covets, she is coming for you (just kidding… or are we?!?) Whether you are a fan of hockey or soccer right now or not, you will love Julie’s breakdowns of what is going on and she will also help you understand the game a little better than you did before. You can’t ask for anything better than that. Make sure to check out Julie Stewart-Binks on ESPN and Fox Sports One and follow her social media handles for more insight. You will not regret it, we promise you.

Photographer: Bobby Quillard

Wingman Magazine: Sportscasting has been male dominated for so many years, can you talk about what it’s been like for you to join the ranks of ESPN and Fox Sports One?

Julie Stewart-Binks: In today’s age it’s not necessarily that you are a “female sportscaster,” but you are a sportscaster or a reporter. There have been so many females, especially the ones where I’m at that have been trailblazers beyond me. There are so many young females coming up in the industry that you’re not the only female there or the one that just squeaks through, doors are opening for everyone. Women are showing that those stereotypes aren’t true, “oh you don’t anything because you have blonde hair, you never played in the NFL so you aren’t a credible source for information.” We are seeing women like Holly Rowe and Doris Burke, women who have taken strides even in just the last year. That inspires me 100%. I cover the Anaheim Ducks and cover them all the time and am the only girl there. The more you work in the industry the less it becomes about me being the only girl here and we are all just hockey fans. Sometimes I forget I am a girl (laughs) and realize that I AM the only girl around. Everyone gets along with everyone and respects everyone as well. Is it where we need to be as of yet, no definitely not. There are still strides to be taken in how some executives view some females. With how much respect and responsibility we are given, there is still a long way to go. Even in just the few early days that I’ve had at ESPN, I’ve seen such huge support to insure that women work hard and are credible and rewarded for that.  

Wingman Magazine: Being from Canada, hockey is obviously one of the national sports. What has it been like for you to be able to be rinkside for a game you love and played a child?

Julie Stewart-Binks: I actually still play hockey to this day actually which is awesome because I really didn’t think that L.A. would have a huge hockey scene there. I play in a pick up league with some other entertainment people, mostly Canadians. Everyone comes together and we play a lot. Getting to cover the NHL has been a dream come true. When I was growing up I wanted to work at TSN, I wanted to be Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger and all of these hockey insiders. Sometimes I have to pinch myself and think when I am sideline at a game and am standing behind these players waiting for an in-game interview, “this is what you wanted as a kid and you are here.” You are always striving for the next thing and wanting to move forward and recently I have pinching myself. It’s been great because I understand the game because I play and I know the mindset and how the game can turn on a dime and potentially what the coach is saying in the locker room at a certain point. It’s a really cool fraternity in hockey which begins in Canada and has gone through the Northeast cities as well. It is definitely different in Southern California. The media isn’t that intense, there are some media that know and understand hockey but it’s at a completely different degree than it is up in Canada.

Wingman Magazine: MLS is just getting started and we are seeing you more and more on the sidelines of games on ESPN. Did you play soccer growing up? Your grasp of the game is fantastic, how did you develop that?

Julie Stewart-Binks: I played on a very basic level in high school but I did my Masters in England and when I was there I was 100% fully immersed in soccer. In my journalism program we went out to Stamford Bridge and White Hart Lane and went to trainings and press conferences and got to be at all of that and it was just so cool. You know how it is over there… soccer is like drugs to those people (laughs). I lived right near Emirates stadium and could hear fans cheering from the stadium. I did an internship over at Sky News while I was over there and I started getting really into it and when I got back to Canada I saw a job opening for Fox Soccer Report. I auditioned and with soccer being still such a niche sport that it definitely has the most potential for growth. Trying to find people that know the sport, follow it, have a background in it is very difficult. Because I liked and understood soccer I started getting jobs because of it. I went from Fox Soccer Report and did some stuff at local stations in Canada but that was also all sports and not just soccer. When I got to L.A. I was instantly thrown into a daily soccer show which was awesome. They started giving me Europa League stuff and then I went onto doing sideline stuff which is a completely different animal because I had never done that before. The more you do it and the more you understand tactically what is going on, from standing near these coaches and you can hear everything that is going on and then seeing implement. It was amazing access and I 100% enjoyed it. I actually prefer doing soccer on the sidelines over hockey which sounds blasphemous since I am from Canada. If you don’t like soccer and watch it on tv, I understand if you don’t like it because it is slow. When you are at the games it is a completely different experience and you will absolutely love it from the fandom and the excitement. There is nothing better for 90 minutes than standing on the sidelines. With it being kind of slow, we as broadcasters want to be able to speed up the game for the audience.

Photographer: Bobby Quillard

Wingman Magazine: Who do you want to see in the Stanley Cup Finals… and who do you THINK will make it the Finals?

Julie Stewart-Binks: That is a tough decision, (laughs and whispers) as a Ducks broadcaster I always have to pull for the Ducks. We definitely have a fair chance this season and have definitely kicked things up a notch since the five day break back in March. It’s the Capitals cup to lose which sucks because I’m from Toronto and are playing Washington in the first round. (The Capitals just  won the series 4-2 in last night’s game, sorry Julie) I also think that Pittsburgh could repeat which we haven’t seen since ‘08 and ‘09. Washington and Pittsburgh are my two favorites out of the Eastern Conference. In the West, Edmonton is a darkhorse for sure. So many teams try to shut down McDavid and they can for a certain amount of time, but he is just so incredible and a game changer. He makes everyone fantastic. So I would pick Edmonton, Anaheim and Chicago out of the West. (Unfortunately, Chicago got swept out of the first round by Nashville, and the Ducks are playing Edmonton in the second round.)  

Wingman Magazine: Is there any sport that you haven’t covered yet that you would love to take a crack at and what about that sport is so intriguing to you?

Julie Stewart-Binks: I have covered college football before but I definitely want to do that more. It is along the same idea that the fan base and that fandom of it is what got me into soccer is what I love about it. People live and die by these two sports and it’s in their blood and that is was so incredible about them both. With the story lines and people will just stop and watch college football is out of control. I would also love to cover the NFL someday as well as host an Olympics, which is my Super Bowl. Growing up loving hockey, running tracking in college, that is the pinnacle of sports to me. Bob Costas is leaving (laughs) so watch your back… I’m coming for you.

Wingman Magazine: How has it been splitting time between FS1 and ESPN, must get pretty hectic at times?

Julie Stewart-Binks: For the next month I will still be splitting time but then I will be covering soccer. It is a lot of work right now to split between the two of them. Everyone has been very accommodating to the other parties but I have no life whatsoever (laughs again) I go from Plane to game to hotel to plane. But I do pinch myself and think that jobs are scarce these days and more and more limited and people are getting cut because of it and I am very lucky to be extremely busy because I could be home twiddling my thumbs.

Photographer: Bobby Quillard

 

Wingman Magazine: When you started your adventure into broadcasting, who did you look up to and admire?

Julie Stewart-Binks: I have a different background because I grew up in Canada. I didn’t see a lot of women on TV when I was younger. I really looked up to Jennifer Hedger, who was just so poised, articulate and confident when she spoke on TV. Even now from Kate Beirness and Sara Orlesky. They along with Holly Horton helped me when I did an undergraduate thesis on women sportscasters. They all worked over at TSN, which is what I really watched. I didn’t really know about Hannah Storm and Suzy Kolber and what they had to go through to become sportscasters. In my early days I went through some BS sexism and thought, “Really?! This still exists?” I can’t imagine what they had to go through and how much that helped them today. But they are still going strong with Kolber getting the NFL Countdown gig and they show the longevity of females. Aging is something else we have to deal with (chuckles) and these women are showing that it’s not really a thing to worry about anymore. It is nice to see females in different roles that aren’t just the sideline reporter or “female roles,” and hosting all of these other shows or doing play by play. We see someone like Katie Nolan who is just the coolest and not only is she my friend but she pushes the boundaries. Having someone like her sort of help lead the way and get people to think, “yes, we can have someone who can become a Colin Cowherd or a Skip Bayless.” That is definitely a male dominated world 100% but I think people like Katie are changing that.

Photographer: Bobby Quillard

Wingman Magazine: There are a lot of young women that want to get into the field of Sports broadcasting. What advice would you give them, besides obviously not to take your job?

Julie Stewart-Binks: (Laughs) Yes, please don’t take my job… there are plenty out there. What I tell people is start anywhere and do anything. If you want to be on tv, be on tv. Go to your local station and just get on-air, get that repetition. You are going to be awkward at first, and you will probably suck, but everybody does. And if you are awesome… well that’s just not fair. I worked as a volunteer at a station and even spent money taking boxes to them, but I got a demo reel and got more comfortable there. I reached out to everyone I knew in sports and tried to just meet as many people as possible. People are going to say no or not respond and you have just got to march on. I got back from my Masters and I sent out 40 packages to people across the country and not one person responded to them but I just kept going and ended up at ESPN. No job is too small. People come out of college and say they aren’t going to that small town. No, you go to that small town and do that job because it will lead to a bigger job and so on. You aren’t going to just walk on to Fox Sports, you may have to go to Montana or Idaho and even that is hard to find a job, you can’t have an ego, you are going to start on the bottom because everyone does. Now when I talk to executives they love that I started at the bottom, held a camera and shot curling in the middle of nowhere Saskatchewan and now they respect me when I am in front of the camera.

 

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