It wasn’t necessarily luck nor was it fate: it was hard work
and preparation that Megan Mawicke credits as the ‘secret weapon’ on her
journey to success. Eleven years ago, it was that combination that helped
reaffirm her credibility on Chicago’s sports reporting roster as an anchor at
Early in the 2004 NFL season, Mawicke was set to cover the
afternoon Bears-Giants game in East Rutherford, New Jersey. But before the 3
p.m. kickoff, her to-do list for that day included running 26.2 miles at the New
York City Marathon.
The average finish time for the 2004 race was 4:37. As an
avid runner, Mawicke’s best time was 3:41. The NYC Marathon gun went off at
10:30 that morning, which meant she had only one option that day: to be better
than her best.
Word was buzzing about her race, especially after an article
describing her challenge made the Chicago
Tribune’s sports section. It was titled “She’s Up For a Busy Sunday.” Mawicke
recalled what she was thinking at the time.
“All of Chicago knows that I’m going to run, I can’t back
out now,” she said.
If Mawicke succeeded, she could finish without disappointing
the Chicagoans who were watching on their TV sets to take part in the action.
Being busy was an understatement.
She crossed the finish line and successfully made it to the
Meadowlands by the first quarter of the game. From the perspective of the viewers
on TV watching her, she would have seemed in tiptop shape. Except for one thing
left unseen because it was below camera-level view.
“I had blood blisters connected on my
toes,” said Mawicke. “It was the most disgusting thing you have ever seen.”
She remembered how gruesome the challenge was as she hobbled
into the press box in her suit and tennis shoes, but how it also brought about
a wave of praise.
“I put my thumb up in the air like I finished [the race] and everyone started
to cheer in the middle of the Bears game,” said Mawicke.
During the game, former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher came up to her and asked how her race went.
Even after the game, players in the
locker room wanted to know how she finished. On that afternoon in MetLife
Stadium, the athletes on the field also included a female sports reporter.
“It was just such a cool moment,” she added.
Undertakings such as double-booking her schedule on game
days doesn’t come as surprising for the former tennis star at Indiana
Growing up in Kenilworth, Illinois, a town just north of Chicago, Mawicke was a
self-proclaimed “tomboy” and “jock” whose life revolved around her tennis
career. Since she was seven, she played at least 30 tennis tournaments a year.
By the time she was eight, she was already a nationally ranked player. Being at
the top of her game meant missing a lot of days at school to travel with her
parents for matches.
The payoff allotted in a list of accomplishments as she pursued journalism on
an athletic scholarship at Indiana University, which included being a four-time
Big Ten Women’s Tennis Team champion and two-time Illinois State Tennis
The moment she knew the next step in her career was going to
involve sports and journalism came under the mentorship of Chicago sports
director Marc Giangreco.
“He hates to say that I was his intern in 1991, because he says that makes him
feel old,” Mawicke said.
"Being able to get paid to watch sports was the greatest thing ever."
Watching Giangreco as a journalist made her realize that
being able to get paid to watch sports was “the greatest thing ever.”
Being able to cover the teams she grew up watching with her
family was just an added bonus. Sundays at her parents’ house meant watching
Bears games with her dad, especially since he was a lifelong season ticket
holder. Mawicke refers to her mom as someone who “loves the Cubs for life.”
After graduating from Indiana in 1995, she continued her
post-graduate journalism education at Medill until 1997 and traded her tennis
racquet for the broadcast microphone. Mawicke’s first broadcast gig was as a
sports anchor at WBAY-TV in Green Bay,
Wisconsin and she credited working in a small market as the best choice for
someone starting out in the business.
“You need to get all your glitches out in a small market,
you need to learn how to ask questions properly,” said Mawicke. “You learn how
to see the story visually and it makes you a better reporter.”
As a one-man band carrying 70 pounds of broadcast equipment
around, she remembered what she did by her third day on the job: called her
parents and told them she needed a massage. But being out of her element also
taught her a huge lesson.
“When you learn your craft, you learn your confidence,” said
Just as an athlete refines his or her fundamentals through rigorous practice,
Mawicke continued defining her craft. Most of her life she had to prove her
capabilities on the tennis courts. Her mission was to ace every opportunity in
order to reach the top and it was her competitive spirit that led the way.
She made it to Fox Sports Net and anchored for the Chicago,
Bay Area and Ohio regions. She also hosted games for the Cubs, White Sox, Bulls
and Blackhawks while serving as a correspondent for the Bears.
It took five years to get from being the reporter learning
imperative career lessons while covering deer hunting season and fish derbies
to being the sports reporter back in home court advantage at Chicago’s WBBM-TV.
One thing is certain: she loves her job. Except it’s not just
her background as an educated athlete that helps her perform better. She credits being a mom to her two boys – Luke and Jack – as what makes her
appreciate her job even more.
“If I’m going to be away from my kids, it better be for
something I love, and it better be worthwhile,” Mawicke said.
With her role in the CBS newsroom, no two days are alike and her hours are set
merely the night before an assignment. With her role as a mom, her hours at
home mean having quality time with her boys.
“When I’m away from them, it makes me appreciate my time
home with them even more,” Mawicke said. “I am a better mom for working.”
Click 'Read More' for our Q & A with the CBS sports reporter!