By John "Woods" Armwood III
The Michigan product, Alexis Ayala, has begun to pave a way for many young journalists like myself. In the brief time she’s been involved in sports media the strides she’s making seem to be just the tip of the iceberg. Ayala’s been involved with sports since she can walk. Her biggest inspiration stems from her admiration and love for her father, Alejandro Ayala.
“My dad’s my hero and best friend,” said Ayala during her Sh3GotGame interview. “He loved basketball since I can remember. His passion radiates and can touch anyone, he believes the game teaches so much more than basketball.”
My dad is the epitome of the best dad and husband and man ever #doingitright— Lexi Ayala (@LexiReyne1523) June 29, 2015
Alexis Ayala’s Transition From Athlete to Sports Broadcaster
Ayala openly discusses her excitement and joy for the game of basketball. Although her playing days are over she wishes they weren’t. She jokingly admits that she’s checked her eligibility several times, however, she has none remaining. Ayala originally played for two years at Lawrence Technology University which led to almost walking on at Michigan State University and playing for another two years.
Nonetheless, she realized that the likelihood of her being drafted to the WNBA was slim. However, like most, she loved the game so much that she wanted to be around it even if she wasn’t playing any longer. So instead, she majored in broadcasting while transferring to M.S.U. to get a head start on her career. Ayala began capitalizing on her opportunities given throughout the COVID-19 lockdown period by calling games in the studio by herself. While looking to find herself and her broadcasting voice as she became more comfortable she created a persona essentially, “Big Lexi”.
When asked where did her persona originate from, many would assume that it came from a sports-related incident. However, it came from a viral video on the internet sensation at the time, Vine. The “Big Lexi” video surfaced ad followed her throughout high school and college.
“I always introduce myself as Big Lexi when given the opportunity,” explained Ayala.
What Does Ayala Love About Broadcasting?
The thing that separates broadcasting and journalism is the ability to wear one’s heart on their sleeve. Ayala feels similar in regards to the ability to be openly passionate about the game she loves. While she admits she loved to journal and write while younger, it’s a different energy and feel when you’re broadcasting a game and someone hits a huge shot.
Some of her biggest inspirations from on-air talents are Jemelle Hill and Michelle Beadle. She admires how they are unapologetically themselves and still managed to produce amazing content. Although both recently got kicked off their respective shows she admires how they pivoted and continue to still find success within their adversity. Not to mention, Meghan McKeown, sports broadcaster for the Chicago Sky and Ayala’s mentor. Naturally, she’s been one of the biggest influences on Ayala’s career.
“I always loved Michelle Beadle and Jemelle Hill!” emphasized Ayala. “They were going to be themselves no matter what. I can’t forget my mentor, Meghan McKeown, she’s been absolutely amazing, as well.”
Ayala’s Advice on Being “Different”
Sometimes the key to being different, ironically, is just being yourself. Ayala spoke a lot about her being seen as “different” from the pack because she just stopped comparing and eventually didn’t realize it was even a pack. Sometimes one's so indulged in being themselves that they literally cannot see anyone else. Then and only then is when people recognize you for you is the sentiment Ayala subscribes to.
In fact, she advises many young journalists to start in a small market to allow themselves to make tons of mistakes. The most confident and intelligent people mess up every day. She advises everyone to be comfortable with messing up and just building upon that mess up. Many would rather mess up on a smaller scale vs. messing up for the entire world to see.
“I advise people always to sometimes forget time is even real,” Ayala stated passionately. “Staying in your own lane and allowing things to happen when they happen is the best course of action. Also, don’t be afraid to mess up, preferably, in smaller markets but mess up early.”
In conclusion, when asked is there any other advice she’d be willing to offer to any other young journalists and broadcasters that may resonate with her story, she responded:
“No matter what say ‘Yes’ to everything. Tons of people in the world shut themselves out from so many opportunities because of fear. Be fearless and get what you’re worth.”