Women of the NFL: How CBS Sports Lead Reporter Tracy Wolfson Stays Game Ready

Tracey Wolfson

“I may be small but I have a big heart and a strong will to succeed”

Fall is here and so is football season! We all know and love the players on the field, but there’s also a whole world of women who contribute to the NFL and help make the game great. We’ll be shining a spotlight on some of them for our new series Women of the NFL in partnership with Sleep Number, starting with CBS Sports Lead Reporter Tracy Wolfson. I talked to the mom of three about what to expect this season and how she manages to get the sleep she needs to stay game-ready…

Katie Couric: It’s football season again! What are you most excited for as the current season gets into gear?

Tracy Wolfson: There are so many storylines coming into this season. Will the Browns finally bring winning ways back to Cleveland and how will their offense look with OBJ? What will Pittsburgh look like without AB and Le’Veon? Can Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs take the next step and make the Super Bowl? Can anyone stop the Patriots?!! So much to look forward to!

You got so much (well-deserved!) attention for your tenacity in pursuing an interview with Tom Brady after this year’s Super Bowl…what goes through your head at that moment when you’re chasing a player around the field trying to secure an interview?

Thank you. It was a pretty crazy scene at the end but honestly I didn’t realize all that was taking place until after it was all over. To me I was just doing my job. But in terms of what was going through my head, I was in normal game mode. I had a lot of practice thanks to my days in college where you have to navigate fans as well as media. The only thing I’m thinking about is getting the interview and getting it in a timely manner. No way I wasn’t going to get it.

You’re just 5’2”! (I can definitely relate since I’m 5’3 3/4”!) I love that you say that your size actually makes you tougher…tell us about that…

Lol. I may be small but I have a big heart and a strong will to succeed. I’m super competitive and always was. I think in crazy situations like the Super Bowl it actually benefited me because I was able to wiggle my way in and stay put holding Brady’s jersey so he didn’t get away. As Mark Twain says: “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

We both ask questions for a living. What have you learned about asking the right questions, particularly in really fast-paced and pretty rough and tumble environment like a football field just after the game?

Interviewing is one of my passions and why I love being on the sidelines. I relish trying to ask the right question in order to elicit the best response. There are several key things when interviewing during or after games. Never ask yes and no questions because you will get a yes and no answer, make the questions short and concise because it’s not about you it’s about the person you’re interviewing, listen to the answer and be ready to follow up, and know your stuff because otherwise you will get exposed.

I’m sure you saw the video of women’s soccer player Carli Lloyd kicking a 55-yard field goal at an Eagles practice and ESPN has reported that multiple NFL teams have reached out to her. Do you think she could make it as a kicker for the NFL?

I love seeing a woman trying to break barriers and I hope we will see a female playing in the NFL one day. I think kicking field goals in practice and making them is the first step. Getting mentally ready to handle 250–300 pound men coming at you or being hit while kicking is the next step and a tough one. I think, mentally and physically, it is a very difficult challenge to take on. Carli Lloyd is so talented and I absolutely love her passion and I have no doubt that she has a strong enough leg to make these field goals. If she continues to work at it and trains mentally and physically, she can be successful.

You’re a mom of three on top of everything else! How do you prioritize sleep and getting enough rest with all that you have to do?

Between my kids and my job and the work that goes into both it’s very hard to find time to get the right amount of rest I need. I do make sure when the kids are asleep and I am done with game notes, I take some time to decompress, clear my mind by turning off my phone and tv, and reading something for fun. I then set my Sleep Number bed to 55 and get a quality sleep even if it’s not for as long as I’d like.

You spend a lot of time on the road…how do you work to maintain your sleep routine when you don’t necessarily get to come home to your own bed?

The hard part about traveling for work is the air travel. I can sleep on planes and I do, but it’s not quality sleep and usually the beds at the hotel aren’t great either. But keeping that same sleep routine I do at home is important to ensure a quality sleep on the road because in my job you cannot be tired. Your mind needs to be sharp and as you know we need to look refreshed, too!!! That HD is a killer!!

What have you learned about the importance of sleep from the athletes you’ve been around? How does sleep and rest play a part in their performance on the field?

We meet with the players and coaches of both teams leading up to every game and every one of them, at one time or another, have told us about their routines. Their sleep routine, their exercise routine, their eating routine. Sleep, they say is so important for them to feel energized and at full speed on game day. A good night’s rest keeps them on their game, keeps them sharp mentally and physically and at the top of their game. And rest is huge for recovery after a game. Sleep is also huge for coaches as well. They need to be at the top of their game when calling plays and having that energy on the sidelines.

This interview originally appeared on Medium.com

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