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A Latina ESPN Sports Anchor Talks About Getting Flack For Mispronouncing Spanish Words To Appease Her Audience

Over the course of the last four weeks, media outlets have closely covered the World Cup games in Russia while inadvertently also revealing the ways in which soccer’s female fanbase has long often endured sexist and abusive treatement. Takes of crowd coverage have revealed the ways in which female fans are subjected to extreme sexualization while footage of women journalists as they report live have fortuitously also shown the ways in which many remain at risk for attacks and harassment.

It doesn’t take a stats board to understand the ways in which a lack of representation and inclusion of women in the arena of sports has contributed to these offenses. Though, if we’re talking numbers, the proof is there. According to FIFA, of the 16,000 journalists authorized to cover the competitions, only 14% are women. Outside of the World Cup space, the amount of representation doesn’t get much better. A study by the Women’s Media Center which was conducted this year found that of the country’s thousands of local TV news staff, women of color make up only a total of 12.6% of the population. For context, in 2018 women of color make up more than 34% of the country’s population.

There’s no doubting that the sports arena is in gross need of a change in representation and as we watch reporters cover the World Cup’s final its final tournament our team an interest in the future of the Latina sports reporter. For a better understanding of what more LAtinas in sports media could look like, FIERCE conducted a phone interview with ESPN anchor Antonietta Collins, whose ten years long career has included a position as a sports anchor for Univision Deportes’ show “Despierta America” and “Primer Impacto.”

As a Latina reporter, Collins says the future will take an acceptance of those who choose to straddle their two cultures. It’s a concept she admits has its challenges.

When someone tells me I pronounce my own name wrong … ????

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Collins says she finds one of her greatest obstacles involves the code-switch. After years of reporting for a Spanish-speaking audience, the Latina found herself speaking to a new set of viewers, when she started reporting in English. The Mexican-born reporter grew up in a bilingual household, where the proper pronunciation of Spanish words was simply a norm. When it came time to stand in front of a camera and report on key Latino players like Nelson Cruz and big events like Real Madrid she never gave pronouncing their names much thought. But the trolls of Twitter quickly reared their ugly heads. The show’s audience quickly took to lambasting her articulation.

“They’d say ‘Get her off the TV, she belongs washing dishes,’” Collins says before recalling a time felt the pressure from her audience so much that she decided to conform to their criticism. While reporting on a story on the Royals catcher, Salvador Pérez, Collins says she used an American accent to pronounce his name. It didn’t take long for her mother, who is the four-time Emmy Award-winning Mexican journalist María Antonieta Collins, to call her up. “She says ‘Who the hell is Salvador Perez?'” Collins laughs. “I’m like ‘the catcher’ and she said, ‘Well that’s not what his mother knows him like. Say it how you’re supposed to, say it, es Salvador Pérez.'”

Collins says the incident reminded her to bring all of herself into the work she does, even her culture. “My mother she’s so true to herself in that sense. She’s very honest and open about who she is, and I think that’s the one thing I struggled with because like anyone I get insecure I tend to like get into my own head.” Fortunately for her, at ESPN, she works with a team that has supported her decision to not conform. “They] have never told me ‘Oh, don’t say this in that accent,’ or ‘Don’t do that.’ My boss [said to me] ‘I love who you are, I don’t need you to change your accent, I don’t even care if you say Las Vegas/Las Vegas, I just want you to just be clear that’s it.”

When it comes to representation, Collins recognizes the sports media arena still has many other great issues to tackle.

In the early days of her career, when she was one amongst a few set of women reporting on sports at the local level, Collins says she felt a constant pressure to demonstrate herself as both a professional and a true fan. “It was having to prove that you weren’t there to look pretty and like and there to [flirt] with the athletes,” Collins says. “You had to prove yourself that you were there because you knew the stuff and you wanted to be there.”

Collins says that the scarce number of female reporters in her field bred support between the women anchors rather than spite. When it came to dealing with harassment, it’s something Collins says she is particularly grateful for. That’s the cool thing about what I’ve seen lately with women in sports. They’re not against each other, they’re not attacking each other, it’s about supporting each other,” Collins says. Despite never having experienced harassment from the players she interviews or the bosses she works for, Collins says that she understands that offensive and aggressive behavior is something many female sports reporters like herself experience. “I remember one reporter telling me ”Just try to be straightforward. You can’t dance around things, and if that were to happen to you, you have to be straightforward and speak up.'”

It’s a type of dialogue being held amongst female reporters today, that is probably very different amongst the lot of anchors that inspired her to get into reporting as a child who never saw a Latina at the helm of a sports broadcasting segment or show.  She says that from the stories she’s heard, it’s obvious treatment of women in sports media has vastly improved. “Nowadays,  especially with more women [being included] in r in sports and reporting. I feel as if things are getting way better.”

To Collins, the inclusion of women of color in sports reporting makes sense for improving coverage as well as the business.

“We like bleed our team’s like colors, we’re passionate. Sports is such a universal thing, so I think it’s so important to empower those girls that do love their sports,” Collins explains. “Because it is possible, and it’s such an awesome job. I just hope that girls can see that they can do it too, that if I can do it, they can do it and they can probably do it even better.”

Read: E! News’ Liz Hernandez Shares How Her Mother’s Battle With Alzheimer’s Disease Influenced Her New Career Path

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20 Latina Athletes To Watch At Next Year’s Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

Fierce Boss Ladies

20 Latina Athletes To Watch At Next Year’s Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

Every two years, the best athletes in the world compete in the Winter or Summer Olympics. Just like the Olympics, the Paralympics is an international multi-sport event that also happens every two years. However, unlike the Olympics, athletes who compete in Paralympics do so with a range of disabilities. With limitations like vision impairment, intellectual impairment, loss of limb, impaired muscle movement and limited field of motion, these athletes prove that there’s no limit to who can be a champion.

The next games are nearly a year and a half away and will take place in Tokyo, Japan. Paralympians will come from all over the world to represent their countries in these games. Of course, from now until the games, these athletes will be doing some serious training to show out big time in Tokyo.

Besides contenders from Mexico and the United States, Central and South America have produced their fair share of medalists. From archery and track and field to basketball and fencing, Latina Paralympians represent their countries with pride.

Though the next games don’t take place until 2020, it’s never too early to start hyping up these amazing Latina Paralympians.

1. Natalie Bieule

Twitter / @NataB12

Florida mom of two, Bieule lost her left leg because of a car accident at the age of 18. A competitive dancer at the time, the Latina didn’t allow the loss to stop her from competing. With the help of her prosthetic, Bieule began her career as a discus thrower soon after her accident. After winning silver and gold in the 2014 and 2015 US Paralympics Track and Field National Championships, Bieule went on to compete in the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

2. Martha Chavez

Joe Kusumoto Photography

A proud veteran of the United States Army, this Mexican born athlete suffered from polio as a small girl. Though she needed leg braces in childhood, Chavez recovered. However, she suffered an injury while in the military and it was made worse by her previous illness. Chavez’s leg weakness makes her dependent on her wheelchair but that hasn’t stopped her from putting her marksmanship skills to good use. The Latina competes in archery using her compound bow and is a two-time silver medalist.

3. Patty Cisneros

YouTube / Cordillera Digital

Three-time Paralympic athlete, Cisneros has been a big name in wheelchair basketball for nearly 20 years. Cisneros was rendered paralyzed in a car crash during her freshman year of college. In 2018, the Latina led the US Paralympics Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team to its second gold medal in the games. The one time ESPY nominee for Best Female Athlete with a Disability, Cisneros now coaches the University of Illinois’ Women’s Wheelchair Basketball team.

4. Andrea DeMello

Earl Wilson / The New York Times

In 1980, DeMello suffered a stroke that rendered her right side completely paralyzed. However, her sport of wheelchair fencing has actually helped in her recovery. An avid marathon runner, the fencer immigrated to the US from Brazil and joined the US Paralympic team. DeMello has participated in four Paralympic games and still travels the world competing in fencing competitions.

5. Christella Garcia

Born blind, Garcia has studied Judo since childhood. She started competitively training for the 2012 London Paralympic games in 2007 and hasn’t stopped since. The two-time Paralympian earned bronze in her sport during the 2016 Rio games. When she isn’t competing, Garcia works with local and national charities.

6. Ivonne Mosquera-Schmidt

Originally from Bogota, Mosquera-Schmidt is a one-time Paralympic athlete competing in track and field. As a blind woman, she is the American record holder for T11 women in the 1500, 3000, and 5000 meter and marathon distances. She’s also the world champion in Paratriathlon in the Sprint and Olympic distances. When she isn’t competing, Mosquera-Schmidt works as a motivational speaker.

7. Ilena Rodriguez

Tom Stormme / Tribune

Rodriguez grew up in Cuba, swimming in the waters off of Matanzas. When she was 13 she developed a rare spinal condition that rendered her unable to walk. However, Rodriguez learned that she could still swim and went on to competitively train. In 2008, the swimmer set the US record for the 200m breaststroke. The Latina later competed in the 2012 London games.

8. Terezinha Guilhermina

Emilio Morenatti / AP Photo

Representing her home country of Brazil, Guilhermina is one of the best sprinters in the Paralympics. The 39 year old runner holds the world records for 100m and 400m the T11 category — a classification for the most visually impaired athletes. She made her debut at the 2004 Athens games, winning the bronze. In the course of her training, Guilhermina has also trained with and ran alongside Olympian Usain Bolt.

9. Shirlene Coelho

Twitter / @AngelaMilanese

Track and field champion Coelho is a big deal in the Paralympic games. A three-time Paralympian, she competes in all three throwing events — the shot put, javelin, and discus.  The Brazilian native has earned two gold medals and two silver medals in her sports. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy that impairs her balance, Coelho set a new world record in her Javelin class during the 2018 Beijing games.

10. Yunidis Castillo

Twitter / @_yazminsita

A Paralympian track and field star, Castillo has brought several medals home for Cuba. Competing in track and long jump, the Cubana lost her arm at the age of 10 in a car accident. That obviously hasn’t slowed her down a bit. Castillo earned five gold medals combined in the 2008 Beijing games and the 2012 London games. She also won silver during her appearance at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

11. Amalia Pérez

A five-time Paralympic champion, the Mexicana is the definition of fuerte. Dependant on a wheelchair due to impaired muscle strength, Pérez is one of Mexico’s best known powerlifters. She’s won three gold medals in the Beijing, London, and Rio games and two silver in Sydney and Athens. Pérez is also the only powerlifter in the world to hold championships in three different divisions.

12. Omara Durand

Instagram / oncubanews

A visually impaired Cubana, Durand is a gold-worthy sprinter. The two-time Paralympian won an combined total of five gold medals in the Rio and London games. During her win in Rio, the Latina set a new world record in the 100m T13 event. All of these accomplishments earned her the title of Best Female Athlete at the 2016 Paralympic Awards.

13. Aline Rocha

Twitter / @flaviodilascio

When Rocha competed in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter games, she became the first Brazilian to ever join the Winter games. In 2006, a car crash resulted in paraplegia. She found the sport of cross country skiing after her injury. In 2018, she was named Best Female Para Cross-country Skier of the year by the Brazilian Confederation of Snow Sports. Rocha may have impressed the world with her fourth place preformance in Pyeongchang but she eager to show her growth at the 2022 Beijing games.

14. Yazmith Bataz

Twitter / @markopticmx

Three time Paralympian Bataz has been representing her home of Mexico since the 2004 Athens games. Due to the amputation of her legs, the Mexicana competes in track events with a wheelchair. In 2007, Bataz set a new Pan-American record in the 100m T54. In 2014, the champion received the Medal of Merit for a Person with Disabilities from the government of Baja California Sur — her home state.

15. Thiare Casarez

A sprint and mid-distance runner, Casarez competes for her home country of Mexico. In 2013, she represented Mexico in the IPC Athletics World champions. There, the runner earned silver in both the 200m and 400m events. Casarez is training for the next Paralympics and hopes to represent Mexico again in 2020.

16. María de los Ángeles Ortiz

A three-time Paralympian, de los Angeles Ortiz has represented Mexico proudly in her sport of shot put. In 2004, she had to have a leg amputated after a car accident so she competes in a wheelchair. In her first appearance at the games, the Mexicana won a silver medal. Later, in the 2012 and 2016 games, she won a gold medal in both London and Rio. In 2011, de los Angeles Ortiz received Mexico’s National Sports Award.

17. Yanina Martinez

Martinez is a Paralympian from Argentina who represented her country in the 2016 games. Born with cerebral palsy, the runner experiences coordination issues. During Rio’s Paralympic events, Martinez earned gold on the women’s 100m dash. That year, she also won the Silver Olimpia Award for Best Para Athlete.

18. Maritza Arango Buitrago

Colombian racer Buitrago competes in the middle distance events in track and fields. In 2003, a rare degenerative eye disorder began to take her eyesight which led her into a deep depression. She decided to focus on athletics to get past the negativity she felt about her mental illness and blindness. She went on to represent her county in Rio where she would go on to win two bronze medals.

19. Martha Hernández

Twitter / @JulianPericoJr

Track and field star Hernádez has a visual impairment that renders her almost completely blind. Still, that hasn’t limited her success. In the 2015, she won silver in the shot put during the Parapan American Games. Though she still runs, she currently works at the Columbian Federation of Athletes with Cerebral Palsy.

20. Yeny Vergas


Though only training for three years before the event, Vargas is a natural born runner. The Peruvian lost her arm due to an accidental electrocution at 5 years-old. The now 21 years-old Paralympian represented Peru in the 2016 Rio game. Though her times didn’t qualify, her tenacity and drive to keep going is definitely an inspiration.

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These 20 Latinas in Sports Are Changing The Game And Knocking It Out Of The Park

Fierce Boss Ladies

These 20 Latinas in Sports Are Changing The Game And Knocking It Out Of The Park

Sports are about so much more than the athletes involved. While they may be the most entertaining part of the whole operation, there are dozens of coaches, managers, announcers, journalists, and even marketing execs that truly bring the experience to life.

Here are 20 Latinas in sports who are making waves off the field.

Rebecca Lobo

Credit: @RebeccaLobo / Twitter

Rebecca Lobo was on a championship-winning basketball team for the University of Connecticut and played basketball for the WNBA for seven years after. Today, the hall of famer is a reporter and color analyst for ESPN, specializing, of course, in women’s college basketball and WNBA games.

Mary Joe Fernandez

Credit: @sapsports / Instagram

Mary Joe Fernandez had an illustrious career as a pro tennis player. She won two Grand Slam doubles tournaments and three Olympic medals, two of which are gold. After retiring from the sport, Fernandez has kept busy. She’s worked as a tennis commentator for ESPN, analyst for CBS Sports and the U.S. Open, and coach for the U.S. Fed Cup and Olympic teams.

Sisleide do Amor Lima

Credit: @coachmarksscc / Twitter

Better known to her fans as Sissi, Sisleide do Amor Lima played for the Brazilian national soccer team, making her debut at just 16. Her career took her to several women’s teams in the U.S. as well. After coaching for FC Gold Pride and various high schools and colleges throughout California, Sissi is now coaching Solano Community College’s team.

Lisa Fernandez

Credit: @lf16ucla / Instagram

Softball legend Lisa Fernandez has won three Olympic gold medals and pitched in all three games. She currently coaches softball at UCLA, her alma mater, and still holds multiple records a the school.

Jessica Mendoza

Credit: @JessMendoza2 / Instagram

Stanford grad and softball player Jessica Mendoza is an analyst for ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball She became the first woman commentator for a Major League Baseball game this summer and has continued to call games since then. Mendoza also works as a sideline reporter for college football games.

Elisa Padilla

Credit: @JoeFav / Twitter

Elisa Padilla is the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Community Relations for the Miami Marlins. There, Padilla’s challenge is to get fans excited and into the stadium to root for a team that has historically been pretty bad. She’s also taught at New York University and worked as Chief Marketing Officer for the Brooklyn Nets basketball team.

Jessica Priego

Credit: @JPriegoComm / Instagram

After reading an article about the Chicago White Sox’s head of marketing, Jessica Priego called him to ask why the story didn’t mention marketing towards the Latinx population. The bold move helped her land a job, and now, she’s working on her own company, JPriego Communications. The firm focusses on entertainment, travel, fashion, sports, and lifestyle, and she’s adding a new segment to help athletes and celebrities manage their images.

Sabrina Macias

Credit: @FPWellbeing / Twitter

Sabrina Macias has a need for speed. She quickly worked her way up to Director of Marketing Communications for NASCAR, where she helped lead industry-wide Latinx marketing initiatives. Now, Macias thinking bigger as the Senior Director of Global Communications for DraftKings, a fantasy sports betting website.

Suzanne Medina

Credit: @smedina89 / Twitter

Suzanne Medina is the Senior Director of Spanish Content Development and Operations for the MLB. Basically, that means she’s in charge of everything you see in Spanish for the league, from social media and website content to editorial work and marketing. She’s spent her whole career in sports, Spanish-language content, and news, so it’s safe to say she knows what she’s doing.

Christina Alejandre

Credit: @burbunny / Twitter

In case you haven’t heard, videogames are sports now – esports, to be exact. Christina Alejandre recently let her job as the general manager of ELEAGUE, a league of competitive esports gamers that she helped maintain during its first two years in existence. She’s got plenty of experience thanks to prior esports work with Warner Bros., too.

Kelsey Martinez

Credit: @Kelsey_Martinez_ / Instagram

Kelsey Martinez is the first-ever assistant coach for the Oakland Raiders football team. She’s also the only female strength and conditioning coach for any NFL team right now.

Antonietta Collins

Credit: @AntoniettaESPN / Instagram

Mexican-American Antonietta Collins has journalism in her blood. Her mom, Maria Antonieta Collins, is an award-winning TV host and journalist. Antonietta currently works as a news anchor for ESPN’s famed SportsCenter show.

Claudia Trejos

Credit: @ClaudiaTrejos / Twitter

Claudia Trejos does it all. She’s been an ESPN boxing commentator, NASCAR sideline reporter, onsite reporter for the X Games, and Spanish-language analyst for NBA games. She’s even covered dominoes matches. Prior to her work at ESPN, Trejos was a the sports anchor for your mami’s favorite show: Al Rojo Vivo.

Julia Morales

Credit: @JuliaMorales / Twitter

For seven seasons, Julia Morales has been searching for stories on the sidelines of Houston Astros games. She’s been a sports reporter for her whole career, beginning with coverage at local news stations.

Marysol Castro

Credit: @MarysolCastroTV / Instagram

If you happen to go to a Mets game at Citi Field, you’ll definitely hear Marysol Castro’s voice. She’s the PA announcer at the team’s home park, announcing the lineup and alerting fans to other important info. Castro is the first woman to hold the job for the team.

Linda Alvarado

Credit: @BankOnDC / Twitter

Linda Alvarado founded the Alvarado Construction company and remains the sole owner of the endeavor. Then, she bought herself a baseball team. Alvarado is the co-owner of the Colorado Rockies, and she’s the first Latinx person to own a team. The bid also made her the first woman to even place one for an MLB team.

Monica Gonzalez

Credit: @MonicaGonzo / Twitter

Monica Gonzalez played for Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish, the Mexican national soccer team, and Boston’s pro soccer team. Two days after Team Mexico let her go, she became a studio analyst for ESPN. Gonzalez has also worked as a sideline reporter for Major League Soccer and the UEFA Champions League, the only woman to do so in 2016. Her non-profit, Gonzo Soccer Academy, teaches Latinas to play soccer and gain valuable life skills.

Melissa Gonzalez

Credit: @MGonzalez13 / Instagram

No relation to Monica up above, Melissa Gonzalez played for the U.S. Olympic field hockey team after switching from soccer in high school. Now, she’s the assistant field hockey coach at Wake Forest University.

Sandy Nunez

Credit: @snuinla / Twitter

Sandy Nunez is the long-standing coordinating producer for ESPN. She’s responsible for overseeing national content and production of the channel’s flagship SportsCenter program, a huge role that she’s filled for over a decade.

Marly Rivera

Credit: @MarlyRiveraESPN / Twitter

Mary Rivera is a bilingual writer and reporter for ESPN and ESPN Deportes, as well as the radio stations for each channel. She’s covered the New York Yankees for most of her career, frequently contributes to ESPN SportsCenter, and even had her own podcast with SportsCenter anchor Max Bretos.

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