If your preferred method of consuming sports highlights is SportsCenter, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with Antonietta Collins. Every Tuesday and Wednesday at 7am you can find Collins alongside David Lloyd delivering you sports highlights from the night before.
Although we feel like we know our favorite ESPN personalities through what we see on TV, there’s a whole portion of these people’s lives that we aren’t familiar with. Let’s learn a little bit more about Antonietta “Toni” Collins.
Early life and upbringing
Born in California to journalist María Antonieta Collins, Toni always had a love for sports. After spending her early childhood in Mexico, Collins moved back to the United States, where she played soccer at Saint Brendan High School in Miami. On the same weekend as her senior prom, Collins’ mother was doing a story on the USA Women’s soccer team. Rather than attend prom, Collins packed her bags and joined her mom to report on the story. This was her first time working as a reporter in a professional environment. She says “word got back to the Mexican Football Federation” because not too long after the interview, Collins received an invitation to play for Mexico’s U-19 Soccer Team.
After graduating from high school, Collins attended The University of Mount Union, where she continued her soccer career and received a bachelor’s degree in media. She credits her college decision to her sister, who lived in Ohio while Collins was looking at schools.
Following in her mother’s footsteps
Many people aspire to pursue the same career as their parents and Collins is no different. Her mother, María Antonieta Collins, is one of the most-well-known journalists in Mexico. She’s been in the game for over 40 years and has done just about everything a journalist could possibly do, including paving the way for other women in the industry. While the two are very similar, the way in which they have navigated their careers is quite different. Maria says the two are opposites, with Toni being the shyer and Maria the more aggressive of the two. One thing the mother-daughter combo has in common is that nothing was handed to them. Maria left her home in Mexico in pursuit of a better life for her daughter, which is something Toni kept in mind as she pursued her dreams.
The beginning of Collins’ career
Despite being the daughter of a prominent figure in the journalism world, Collins struggled to find a job after graduating. She moved back to Miami, and interned at Univision. While at Univision she says she was a “gopher” who would “legit just get cups of coffee.” Despite getting a not-so-exciting start in the journalism world, Collins maintained a good attitude and kept pursuing her dream.
While interning with Univision, Collins applied to a local radio station in Tampa. Even though she had little sports reporting experience, Collins landed the job. The station had her working the night shift where she would report on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Rays and the USF Bulls.
After six months in Tampa, Collins was frustrated with where she was in her career, so she sent out a demo tape to stations across the country. A news station in McAllen, Texas was impressed and offered her a job. It wasn’t the exact opportunity she was looking for, but she needed the TV experience, so she took it. In McAllen, she mostly covered border stories consisting of homicides, drug busts and “all the border issues you can think of.” She was also given the opportunity to cover sports on the weekends. After two and a half years in McAllen, Collins landed a job with Univision in Dallas.
While in Dallas, everything started to fall into place. The Dallas Mavericks won the NBA Finals and the Texas Rangers made it to the World Series. The Dallas sports scene was blowing up so much that Univision launched Univision Deportes, its own sports network. Collins was one of the local reporters brought on to help start the new venture and the rest was history. After one more year in Dallas, Antonietta Collins got a call from ESPN.
Antonietta Collins’ start at ESPN
Collins accepted an invitation to tryout for a job at ESPN, but admits that she bombed her audition. The Worldwide Leader thought she had potential, but didn’t think she was ready. A year and a half went by before Collins was asked to audition again, and this time ESPN thought she was ready.
Once hired, Collins was assigned news segments for ESPN.com. At Univision she only covered soccer, but ESPN expected her to report on just about every sport. She covered most American sports, including “Bracketology” segments with college basketball analyst Joe Lunardi. “I had never heard of Bracketology! I love Joe Lunardi with my entire life,” Collins told The Spun in a 2017 interview. “I was really blessed to be able to start in digital and ease the transition into ESPN.”
After some time, Collins’ role grew and in addition to anchoring stories for ESPN.com, she began working on features and was brought on to co-host Baseball Tonight. Being the workhorse that she is, Collins also began hosting One Nación on ESPN Deportes.
SportsCenter to now
In February of 2016, Collins got the call up to anchor SportsCenter. Over the years there’s been a lot of turnover and ESPN fans have had to say goodbye to some of their favorite anchors. Collins remains in the SportsCenter lineup and doesn’t appear to be leaving anytime soon.
Collins’ story shows that no matter who you are, who your family is, or where you’re from, if you want to be make your dreams come true, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices along the way. Toni Collins didn’t wait for the right job to come to her, she took jobs that may have not made sense at the time because she knew she needed experience. The ladder to success is a long one and you don’t always know which direction it’s going to take you. If there’s one thing you can learn from Collins it’s that you have to put the work in while you’re at the bottom if you want to reach the top.
You can follow Antonietta Collins on Instagram at @antoinettaespn.
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