Chelsea Sherrod’s Trailblazing Career Comes Full Circle

Chelsea Sherrod’s Trailblazing Career Comes Full Circle

By John Armwood III

The Connecticut native Chelsea Sherrod grew up just outside of New York, however her career path seemed inevitable as she finds herself residing and doing phenomenal and fulfilling work in “The Big Apple”. Prior to the start of her career, Sherrod grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where she quickly developed a passion for sports around the ages of five and six. From there, Sherrod continued to play basketball up until college. Naturally, being surrounded by a house of athletes with her older brother, Brandon, who’s currently the Yale assistant basketball coach, and her two younger sisters, Chayla and Chynna. Despite all of the Sherrods playing sports growing up, Chelsea and Brandon were the only two who decided to see it through. Chelsea admits growing up while she always had a passion for sports, she didn’t find her passion for reporting until her junior year of college. Curiously enough, she considered becoming a detective or lawyer because of her infinity in the hit TV show “Law & Order”

“For me, it started way later in life,” Sherrod explains. “I didn’t figure out this could be my career path until my junior year of college. I didn't know I wanted to be around sports but a college professor helped me find my passion.”

Humble Beginnings for Sherrod

Before becoming the revered reporter many recognize today, she began her reporting career with student-athlete of the month interviews for content. Shortly after, she secured her first internship at a local news station in Connecticut, WTNH. At this station, she was forced to act in numerous roles, ultimately making her versatile and efficient in other aspects of production. Unfortunately, she quickly realized the sports media space is a male-dominated field. Naturally, presenting obstacles early in her career that Sherrod wasn’t prepared for. Throughout the industry, she’s found small micro-aggressions in certain rooms, however she’s grateful that she gets the opportunity to cover multiple sports. 

“Yeah, there are micro-aggressions from being in certain rooms,” Sherrod states. “Luckily, I get to cover a variety of sports (baseball, football, basketball, and hockey), and for some of those you’re the only person of color in the room, let alone a woman."

Nonetheless, in some of those rooms, she’s been the only woman of color and sometimes the only woman. This may leave one isolated and feeling as if one doesn’t necessarily belong, to combat that mindset she was forced to hype herself up multiple times and perform on a high level. Sometimes, reminding herself of her journey and hard work helped her persevere through these mental hurdles. 

“Unfortunately, some people believe that you are there for a pretty face or a diversity hire,” Sherrod shares. “There’s been times where I was forced to hype myself up because I felt like I didn’t belong. ... At the end of the day, I’m here to do the job and my employer believes I can do the job well.”

What’s Chelsea Sherrod’s “Sh3GotGame Moment”?

Despite having many key memories to choose from, Sherrod’s “Sh3GotGame Moment” stems from her mentor, Justin Walters. Walters helped guide her throughout her career, therefore helping her create a reel. ultimatley, leading to Sherrod’s first full-time job by assisting her in making a reel.  After shadowing Walters doing numerous of his daily activities, she first realized this was fun and something she wanted to do, and eventually completely immersed herself in it. To this day, something was fueling her to think this could be her life. 

“When I saw him [Walters] and the way he worked, and how passionate he was about his work it motivated me. After shadowing and doing numerous daily activities, I realized this is fun and something I want to do.”

However, the actual moment she realized she was going to be exceptional at reporting was when she was forced to improvise and go off-script while live on air. In 2019, Sherrod conducted her first live hit forcing her to set up all her cameras and mics. She was assigned to read through four highlights without a prompter, playback monitor, or script. After she performed exceptionally, her director reached out to her extremely impressed. This cemented confidence in her abilities as a reporter, leading to her next opportunity at NESN. She genuinely felt she was prepared for this opportunity and more importantly, felt she was destined for this. 

“My first live hit, I was forced to set up my equipment (camera and microphones) and read through four highlights without a prompter, playback monitor, or script,” Sherrod said. “After, my director texted me and was very impressed. At that moment, I felt so much adrenaline and that text helped me realize someone believed in me. Shortly after, I got the job at NESN and truly believed working for a regional network was my destiny.”

Uncertainty of the Evolution Within Media

Some of the most anxious and toughest times for any college student is senior year while nearing graduation. Around this time, most are extremely uncertain of their future and many struggle to advance their career in the direction they intended. That said, Sherrod’s experience was no different, in fact she struggled to find her first on-camera job. Therefore, leading her to attend school at the,  Connecticut School of Broadcasting, which allowed her to gain valauble experience and knowledge prior to breaking into the industry. Naturally, relying on mentorship and networking to possibly grant some opportunities. 

“Professionally, the toughest time I had to persevere through was graduating from undergrad and trying to conquer my first job on camera,” She explains. “It was tons of uncertainty surrounding my senior year, however I relied on my mentorship and networking.”

One of the biggest uncertain moments of all time was during the COVID-19 lockdown. Sherrod had been at her local news station for about five months, however when the lockdown ensued it shut down sports along with the rest of the world. Struggling for content, Sherrod reported mostly on canceled tournaments. With not many options remaining, Sherrod continued her education and enrolled in grad school at, Sacred Heart University, where she relied on her faith, ultimately allowing her to pivot and make the best decisions for her future. 

“During COVID, I was about five months into my first on-camera gig as a multimedia journalist,” she continues. “Then, sports came to an end. As a result, we reported mostly on canceled tournaments. Naturally, we were concerned about what was going to happen next."

Importance and Significance of Being a Journalist 

In modern-day society, some have begun questioning the true identity and integrity of a journalist. Many consider themselves different forms of journalism, ultimately forcing many to question the authenticity of the profession. However, Sherrod remains among the most respected in the industry and continues to attempt to keep moving the profession forward. In her eyes, being a journalist is always doing your work with integrity because we have to tell one’s story factually and how they envision their story being told.

“As a journalist, we don’t only discuss statistics,” Sherrod explains. “Do your work with integrity because the person is trusting you to tell their story in a way they want it to be told. Therefore, that’s why there are giant networks of journalists because they do good work and they always take pride in their work.”

A large part of being a successful journalist stems from having resources and friends in the business to help navigate. That said, some are nervous or just aren’t keen on how to go about networking. Similarly, Sherrod felt this anxiety at the beginning of her career, nonetheless she overcame these fears by simply just introducing herself more. Not to mention, she joined the NABJ (National Association of Black Journalists) which allowed her to come out of her shell and gain priceless information from established journalists in the industry.

“Networking is very important, to be honest, I hated networking because I was shy,” Sherrod continues. “The way I approached networking was understanding everyone has been in my position, but also the majority are willing to help in any way they can. Unfortunately, in this industry, you can’t navigate the space without it. Therefore, joining the NABJ is the best space for that and it helped me overcome my fear of networking.”

What’s in Store for Chelsea Sherrod?

Despite accomplishing a ton of feats in her early career, Sherrod still thrives and wants to accomplish more. Sherrod’s next goal is to contribute her work to a national network rather than a regional network. Although she loves sideline reporting, in her career, she’s been able to experience multiple roles in front of the camera. Therefore, she’s prepared and capable of performing in many different facets of production. That said, her biggest hope while gaining more opportunities is to simply continue to grow and evolve.

“In three years, I will either be working at or be doing work for a national network,” she emphasized. “I’m not sure what that looks like, but I’d like to continue to grow and evolve with every opportunity I receive."

In conclusion, when asked if was there any advice you would offer to any young aspiring broadcasters, journalists, and possibly athletes who may be following your journey, she responded:

“There is space for you and opportunity for you if you love sports. In the same breath, always stay open-minded and be ready to pivot. Continue to keep the main thing the main thing, and always remember hard work does pay off! Feel free to use me as a resource, I’m ready and willing to help and share experiences with all.”

Back to blog