Lauren Kalil Becomes the First Woman To Call Play-By-Play at a Major CrossFit Event
“What if I sound dumb? What if my voice is too high-pitched? What if people think I was only hired because I’m a chick? What if I am only being hired because I’m a chick?”
These were the questions and self-doubt running through Lauren Kalil’s mind the night before she stepped behind the microphone at the 2024 TYR Wodapalooza in Miami to call play-by-play.
One big thing: While women have been working as sideline reporters and in other areas of media coverage in the sport of fitness, the role of calling play-by-play has been exclusively male.
- This year, CrossFit reporter Lauren Kalil changed that when she became the first woman to call play-by-play at a major CrossFit competition during TYR Wodapalooza this January.
- The role marked a breakthrough in the sport, not just for Kalil and her career as a sports journalist but also for all women working in the CrossFit media space.
The road there: Kalil’s path was not an easy one, nor was it straightforward.
In an interview with Morning Chalk Up, Kalil said that she attended speech therapy growing up.
- “Pronunciation of words was always something I struggled with,” she said.
- “I had to study and try hard just to pass in school. Which was great, because I learned from a young age I have to be a hard worker if I want to succeed,” she continued.
Despite struggling early on in school, Kalil went on to study broadcasting at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. A degree that would kick-start her career in broadcast journalism.
- While she didn’t start in CrossFit, she ultimately made the transition to work full time in CrossFit in 2023 after taking a job with Talking Elite Fitness.
Since then, she’s made her mark covering the sport of fitness in a variety of ways, but until this past month in Miami, she had yet to enter the realm of calling play-by-play.
“My passion has always been in play-by-play,” Kalil said of her decision to make the push into the role.
- “But I had this fear that as soon as I let people know that was what I wanted to do all these people would look at me and say well ‘women don’t really have that position… women have the position of sideline reporter,’” she continued.
- “I also know there are only so many openings for these gigs, so I don’t want to act like I’m coming for somebody else’s job,” Kalil added.
- “So up until the summer, I didn’t tell anyone that I wanted to call play-by-play.”
Even after expressing her desire to move into the role, Kalil still had to overcome her self-doubt.
- “I’m creative, I’m inquisitive, I like storytelling whether it’s calling play-by-play or doing sideline,” she said. “But all these things that were constantly a barrier for me [public speaking], I’m now putting on a stage for everyone to judge.”
That insecurity is something that Kalil knows is shared by women in nearly every industry, particularly in those that tend to be male-dominated.
- “It’s a real thing that women have to deal with in any sports industry,” Kalil said. “You question ‘Am I only getting the job because of my looks or my body’… and then the thought ‘am I only getting the job because I’m a female?’”
- “And that’s hard to process when you’re a hard worker. Even when you work really hard and find ways to get better at your craft there’s this self-doubt of ‘Why did I get the job?’”
- “I never want people to question why I’m having success. I always want it to be ‘she earned that or she deserved that,’” Kalil concluded.
Kalil’s hard work has been paying off, and while there’s still much more to come in her career in CrossFit and beyond, she hopes to be a source of inspiration for women looking to make a name for themselves in sports media.
- “If I have any advice to give other women in the industry, it’s to ask for the job. I think a big difference between men and women is that men will ask for jobs before they’re ready while women won’t ask until they believe they’re ready,” she said. “One of the ways I have been able to climb my way up the success ladder is that I ask for opportunities and then prove why it was the right decision to hire me.”
- “Because the guy next to you is going to ask for the position. Ask for what you want.” Kalil said firmly.
The big picture: Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of the sport of fitness is its ability to serve as a headway for women in professional sports, both in terms of recognition and earning potential.
Unlike nearly every other professional-level sport, women in CrossFit possess the same earning potential and receive the same coverage and recognition as men.
Despite this, CrossFit media behind the scenes remains largely male-dominated. But women like Kalil are determined to change that. Whether it’s stepping into a space that women have never been before or earning their seat at the table, it’s clear that CrossFit media has a promising future for women, thanks to the road paved by trailblazers like Kalil.