From the Nationals to the Redskins, sports reporter Britt McHenry’s an expert. But what’s next?
By Tim Regan
At age 27, Britt McHenry has achieved more than some seasoned reporters almost twice her age. Since her start with NewsChannel 8 in 2008 and a move to WJLA/ABC7 in 2010, she’s sat down with Redskins, interviewed gold medalist Michael Phelps and covered just about every sports beat in the area. So, how exactly does one reach that level of performance before 30? McHenry says it’s more about hard work than luck. “You don’t get anywhere unless you work really hard.”
Despite being a former college soccer player and avid sports fan, her original career path followed hard news, not athletics. “I had to really lobby to do sports. I literally took my camera with me by myself and went down to spring training in Florida.” Once she hit her stride, though, she never looked back. “Sports allowed me to bring my personality out and be myself,” says McHenry. But the journey hasn’t been without its bumps.
In 2012, McHenry had a brief stint in San Diego as a dugout reporter for Fox Sports during a short break from ABC7. Unexpectedly, the move garnered a few jeers from the local sports community. “There’s so much speculation and so much said that wasn’t true,” says McHenry. Although she hadn’t actually quit her gig at ABC7, some fans felt like she jumped ship for a larger market. But McHenry says it was all just a big misunderstanding. “Nothing was written, nothing was signed. It wasn’t as dramatic as everybody wrote about it.”
After getting some exposure on the West Coast, McHenry headed back home with a decision to make: D.C. or San Diego? “I learned the biggest lesson … if your gut is telling you something, you should listen to it,” she says. And after a lot of introspection, her gut told her she wasn’t ready to leave. Not yet. “I love this area … the sports fans here, everything about this area is like my home.” But McHenry also knows that to move up the ladder sometimes changes have to be made.
ESPN nabbed D.C. sports alumni Lindsay Czarniak in 2011, and NFL Network bolstered “Total Access” by recruiting Dan Hellie earlier this year. “This is such a hotbed of good talent. It’s a joke, a good joke, in the business that you go to D.C. and you go national.”Could McHenry be next? It’s possible. Some larger networks have already expressed interest in taking her on; and she can’t rule out reporting for a major national network someday. But wherever she lands, don’t expect small things from the up-and-coming journalist. “My fear is being the cute girl on the sidelines. … I think journalism should be about telling a story.”