Unprofessional Foul


March 10, 2009

An EXCLUSIVE Interview with Fox Soccer Report’s Terri Leigh

We are very honored — make that “honoured” — to be the first semi-legitimate football news source to bring you an interview with Fox Soccer Report’s Terri Leigh.

Since joining the Report last year, Terri has held her own next to Carlos Machado, Jeremy St. Louis, Derek Taylor and Bobby McMahon. But up until now, Terri has been very much a woman of mystery — even the official FSR website hasn’t taken down their old picture featuring Mitch Peacock (hint!).

Luckily we here at UF have no shyness about asking for an interview, and Terri was kind enough to oblige. Our big thanks go out to her for taking some time from her busy Fox Soccer schedule to answer our questions.

Enjoy the interview after the jump…..

Tell us a little bit about your broadcasting background. How did you link up with Fox Soccer Channel/Fox Soccer Canada?

My career in broadcasting began almost 12 years ago… I was a part-time receptionist at the local radio station in my hometown of Altona, population 3500. Never one to sit still, I soon began night operating which led to on-air hosting, commercial production, live-on-location broadcasting and capped off with a stint as a morning show co-host. I was very fortunate to have been invested in by that particular radio company (Golden West Broadcasting) and owe them everything I have accomplished in my career so far.

I then moved to the ‘Big City’ of Winnipeg and stepped into the wonderful world of television. That was 5 years ago. I had a multitude of positions, including content programmer for Fox Sports World Canada as well as another radio gig with former-Global-owned Cool FM where I was a jack-of-all-trades type person working in both administration as well as the production side of the operation. My first actual on-air television opportunity was presented to me in the fall with Fox Soccer Report. They were looking to add another body to the staff, and I was looking for a challenge. And boy, did I get me a challenge! October 2nd was not only my first football broadcasting experience, it was my first on-camera experience as well. Since then, I’ve been working hard at improving my footie-knowledge… there is much to learn!

How exactly do the Fox Soccer Report programs get put together? Do you help out with the writing of the highlight play-by-plays?

Believe it or not, we are not talking heads here at the Fox Soccer Report! We all do our own research and writing. Our day usually begins around noon, we meet with our senior producer, go over the day’s stories and games and get down to business. At the end of the day, when the show is complete, I usually go home, get comfy and do some more footie reading. As I mentioned, much to learn!

How much soccer do you watch outside of work? Do you have a favorite team or player?

I’m usually working on weekends, so sadly I don’t get to see as many matches as I would like…except for the early games. I do manage to scream at the TV before jetting off to the office. It gets my pipes warmed up!

When I began with FSR, I told myself I would not choose a team until I’ve experienced at least one full year reporting on this game, in an effort to form a solid knowledge base before making any decisions. And I have never been one to choose just one team… so we’ll see what happens. I will tell you, though, I am a huge fan of the under-dog. I loved Hull City’s run at the beginning of the EPL season… Hoffenheim’s persistence throughout their term… and c’mon Osasuna!

It goes the other way, too… It’s refreshing to see big guys like River Plate finishing dead last. Not if you’re a River fan, though…sorry ‘bout that.

Have you ever played soccer? Do you own any jerseys?

I have played soccer. Played a bit growing up, nothing competitive, though. And again in high school for one season but quickly became distracted by boys and music and chose the non-athletic path instead. I am currently looking for a women’s rec league in Winnipeg to play in… if they will have me, of course. It’s been a while since I’ve kicked around the soccer ball, and I can’t rule out the possibility of passing out after 20 minutes from pure lack of endurance. But who knows, maybe I have some hidden talents ready to burst forth. As for jersey’s… I don’t own any, YET… see question 3.

What are your thoughts on Beckham wanting out of MLS?

Kind of tired of talking about it… I think I am not alone.

All I will say about this is…life is short. And a football player’s life on the pitch is miniscule. Even if Beckham is able to represent his country for only another 6 months, year, 2 years… if he’s got the chance, why not take it? Beckham is one of those guys who’s probably got enough money to sustain a third-world country and doesn’t care about earning any more. He loves the game. And as long as his body allows him, he will play. And I can’t imagine it’s a decision taken lightly… the whole world watches David Beckham, and to duck out on his headline-making contract with MLS… I’m sure he had to swallow his pride. It’s a tug-of-war… Duty vs. Passion. He was given hope when he thought his international career was finished. I just wonder what’s going to happen this summer when he’s supposed to rejoin the Galaxy… if I were him, I’d be very hesitant about stepping out on a North American playing field after this whole fiasco…

Describe the Fox Soccer studio. It’s in Winnipeg, right? How’s life up in Canada?

The FSR studio is brand spankin’ new. We moved in 2 days after I started on the Report. We used to be located in an old grocery store with no windows and an occasional bug problem… now we’re up on the 30th floor of Canwest Global Place in the heart of downtown Winnipeg where we have a bird’s-eye view of the entire city. It’s nice to get some natural sunlight in our work environment for a change. Our studio is a big green room where the only tangible items are a desk and the anchors behind the desk. Everything else is provided digitally, including the plasma screens you see — all computer-generated. Our cameras are operated robotically from control operations in Calgary, Alberta (830 miles away) where the show is also directed. It’s nice to work in such state-of-the-art studios. I try not to walk too swiftly, for fear of breaking something expensive.

Life in Canada is great! It’s a little chilly right now, but my car still starts, so it’s all good. I’m looking forward to summer. It’s short, but summer in Winnipeg is fantastic.

What are Jeremy St. Louis, Derek Taylor, Carlos Machado and Bobby McMahon like off the air?

Everyone on the show has a unique personality and has something different to offer. That’s a part of what makes this show so great, and great to be a part of. Jeremy is the go-to guy for information, he knows a lot of stuff, a lot of the back-story. You can always count on him for the answers. You may recall that Derek is sometimes referred to as Captain Math. He’s very much a stats man (and is always ready with a relevant Simpsons quote in any conversation or situation). Carlos, unlike the rest of us, grew up with soccer and he has followed it his entire life. Historically speaking, out of all the anchors, he’s probably the one with the most knowledge on the subject. And Bobby… is a genius. That guy knows his stuff, backwards and forwards. I anchored my first ‘Bobby Show’ a little while ago. I spent the entire day scared to death. A friend jokingly told me he heard Bobby eats rookies for breakfast. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Bobby is a fantastic person, always willing to answer your questions and take the time to explain his reasoning, no matter how silly you may feel for asking.

If you are the Veronica Corningstone of Fox Soccer Report, who is the Ron Burgundy?

Oh boy… I hope this doesn’t come back to haunt me. But if I had to choose which of my co-anchors were most like Will Ferrell in the movie Anchorman… I would pin it on either Derek or Jeremy. If we were able to combine them, then you would have your Ron Burgundy. Derek is the goofball of the Report and would fit that role to a T… he doesn’t read anchor commands on the teleprompter, though. And Jeremy will be the first to admit it… he’s got this cheese-ball humour thing going on. Thank goodness neither of them owns a maroon suit. Though I hear Carlos owns a maroon jacket…

Which players have the most difficult name to pronounce?

Dutch players all the way… I’ve mostly gotten used to pronunciations from the other leagues… but the Eredivisie is always a challenge. As is Japan. It’s definitely still a work in progress, but I think I’ve improved in that area (somewhat). It’s always unnerving when I’m reading a set of highlights and out of the corner of my eye I see my co-anchor suddenly jot something down on his script. Then, I know I’m getting a correction at the break! But, I appreciate their help.

What do you make of the role of women sports broadcasters? In U.S. sports such as the NFL, it seems like women reporters are used more as eye candy than legitimate broadcasters. Do you find that role limiting?

You know what, yes, the eye candy is out there. It’s a sports broadcasting reality. And it really is too bad when a girl is thrown in front of a camera as a representative of a sport just because they have a pretty face and have absolutely no use for the information they spew. It’s too bad, because everyone knows that unlike men, a pretty face has an expiry date. If you’re not involved for the purpose of learning, then what’s the point? I have the utmost respect for women like Andrea Kraemer and Suzy Kolber. They are truly masters of their domain and they too would have endured a period of time where they faced accusation and doubts from their colleagues and viewers alike. But I highly doubt they encounter this today. Remember Michelle Lissel? Of course you do, she spent upwards of 5 years with FSR, she’s been gone for more than 2 years and people are still talking about her. These women gained credibility and respect in the field not because they are beautiful, but because they have respect for the game. I was fortunate to have been given the opportunity to be a part of a show like FSR and I can honestly tell you I have never worked so hard in all my life. I do my share of the work, just like everyone else. And the way I look at it, the more I can learn from this experience, the more I can take with me and sustain a healthy and respectable career for years to come… and then REALLY accomplish something great because of it. Instead of ‘expiring’ and dwelling miserably in my more youthful years for all eternity, I’m hoping to take it and go as far as I can.

We see that you don’t have a Wikipedia page yet. If you did, what would you want on it?

First of all, I’d want the correct information on mine… unlike Carlos’ Wikipedia page. Have a look, it’s ridiculous… and apparently Jeremy’s states that he wrote the lyrics to the FSR theme.

On top of all the info I’ve given you so far, I guess I would add that I’m a small town girl, grew up on a farm, plays piano, sings, big fan of all things culinary, enjoys movies (sci-fi is my fav), love my dog… that kind of thing. And I am very much looking forward to the day I can openly converse with a life-time fan on the subject of soccer… without feeling out of my element!

[Ed: We have a present for Terri, her very own Wikipedia page! … That was then immediately marked for deletion.]

On a lighter note, what is the best Valentine’s Day gift you’ve ever received?

The best Valentine’s Day gift I’ve ever received was NO Valentine’s gift!
I am NOT a fan of V-day! You get me flowers on V-day, you get a punch. I don’t like the idea of someone being romantic because a ridiculous red and pink ‘holiday’ told them to. And restaurants are a nightmare, so you can’t even be romantic, you have to deal with noisiness and slow service and cold food. I’d rather stay home, curl up on the couch, eat pizza and watch a Star Trek movie. And then be swept off my feet some other random day! But that’s just me….

Terri Leigh is the newest member of the Fox Soccer Report on-air talent team, having made her debut on the anchor desk in October 2008. The Report airs Monday through Sunday at 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT. on Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Soccer Canada.

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