About the Author: Life’s Rollercoaster Brings the Best Out of Anybody’s Spirit: Resilience, Durability and Flexibility the Makings of the Champion Within Us!
By Claudia Trejos
Today most people would see me as an accomplished sports journalist, who does what she loves and loves what she does. But that’s not where I thought I’d end up…I grew up in Colombia, the country with the most homicides per capita in the world in the 1990s. I migrated to the U.S. in January of 1990 with $700 dollars in my pocket due to a heated confrontation with my father. A few years later, my mother, who worked in the judicial system in Colombia, asked me to care for my sister and nephew due to threats to their lives in Colombia. Mom was soon thereafter kidnapped, never found again.
At that time, I had just been accepted into the biology program at UCLA with the goal to become a medical doctor and work at a chiropractor’s office. But I found myself needing to feed my small family. I took on an offer from a patient to work at Dodger Stadium and as a translator for Hispanic player’s interviews and as a grip and many other gigs here and there. I was in heaven….
As a young girl I excelled in sports, it was what we did to keep busy while growing up in a family of four girls and 13 boys. I had been a competitive basketball and tennis player in my teen years. However, the job was something to pay the bills so I continued my studies.
One day, as a producer, my talent (lead reporter) didn’t show up for the live shot… I was then offered the opportunity to go on camera to deliver the content – and I did. That’s what you do – you do what it takes to get the job done. I now recognize that day as the beginning of this journey in sports journalism.
This path has not only made an immigrant live a life beyond her dreams. It tested my spirit and my will to thrive. Once caught against the ropes, a fighter has to make the necessary adjustments, sidestep and continue fighting until the bell rings. I have faced criticism and bias as the first woman and minority sports commentator. My life experiences were essential in allowing me to accomplish this.
In third grade, I experienced microaggressions and racist comments due to being the darkest-skinned student in my class. Similarly, I was questioned professionally, by fans as well as colleagues, especially when I became the first Latina sports journalist to cross-over from Hispanic to General Market TV in Los Angeles in the mid-1990s. One time a stranger attacked me verbally at a restaurant while having lunch with a friend and mentor.
My response to such criticism and intimidation has been to become more knowledgeable, keep striving to be better. The work on me and my craft resulted in many more “firsts” in my career- I have proven the “Nay sayers” wrong.
Furthermore, almost 30 years later I am still here, still working on me and my craft, accepting ME, and flowing with my personal journey. The critics will always be there, except now I don’t allow their personal beliefs rent space in my head. I understand that only I can define ME and the value I bring to my endeavors. I live by my own rules, passion, and assertion.
I invite everyone to do the same – to thrive while “Against the ropes”. For those who get it, no explanation will be necessary- for those who don’t, no explanation will suffice.
I will keep going until the last bell.