Deacon Board for the Church of Tailgate
April 11, 2020

Olivia Harlan Dekker, Part 1: Work Like A Dawg

Olivia Harlan Dekker, Part 1: Work Like A Dawg

Olivia Harlan Dekker - current ESPN broadcaster, proud Georgia grad, and all-around delight - joins Herschel and Boss to bark about:

- Growing up in Kansas City and Wisconsin and the long sports legacy that runs through her family
- How she entered the Miss Kansas Teen USA competition in 2010 to bolster her college applications . . . and won!
- Running into Charlie McAlexander on her visit to Grady and the role their conversation played in choosing UGA 
- Getting as many reps as she could and honing her craft with
- Balancing her first full-time broadcasting gig covering the Atlanta Hawks with Fox Sports South while also carrying a full course load her senior year

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Olivia Harlan Dekker Interview Part I


Welcome to the blog, the dogs podcast. I'm Herschel Gurley here as always with my co host boss, dog boss markets people.



Welcome back everyone. Today we have another interview guest for you. Herschel interviewed Olivia Harlan, Dekker. I was not able to make the interview. But Herschel took it by the reins and did a fantastic job.



Yeah, Olivia was kind enough to join us. She was fantastic guests gave us a lot of insight into her path to Athens and the effect that Athens had on her professional journey. A lot of hard work in her story, a lot of grit. We told her this after we talked to her but obviously such a weird time with all the pandemic stuff going on. And she really was just a breath of fresh air and a bright light to talk to. And I think that'll come through in the interview. Once things get back to normal. Y'all can obviously follow her with her work on the ESPN family and networks, doing broadcasting work, whether it be sideline work, sometimes she does in studio work, covering big 10 all those type things. So check her out wherever you can, please support her on her social media. You can follow her on Instagram at Olivia Harlan Dekker. That's Dekker d k k er. And then her handle on Twitter is just at Olivia Dekker. So at Olivia Harlan Dekker on Instagram, and at Olivia Dekker on Twitter. So give her a follow and if you haven't seen it, give her a series of view or listen that she did with her dad during the initial days of the quarantine some great stuff in there from her and her dad Kevin Harlan talking about broadcasting and sport in this weird time. So here it is part one of our interview with Olivia Harlan Dekker. We are more than excited to have Olivia Harlan Dekker with us tonight. She is a 2014 grad of the University of Georgia. She was born in Kansas City spent time in Kansas City and Wisconsin as a kid and throughout her childhood. She has worked in sports. Really since undergrad she worked for Georgia website doing dogs sitting and doing game day previews, amongst other things. I know she works some time with the Hawks. She worked doing ACC work. She is the current sideline reporter on Friday nights for ESPN. She has previously worked with the SEC network. She does work with the big 10 network covering basketball. She does NFL work for Westwood One, that there aren't many things you don't do, Olivia. So we're we're so thrilled to have you and welcome to the program.



Thank you so much. It's funny, I don't care who you are, what business you're in. But when someone lays out your bio like that, it's it's always a weird feeling. You're like oh yeah, yeah, I do. Do you know that was a great rundown.



Yeah, yeah. So you obviously have a really cool story just kind of want to lead off obviously with with everything going on with the Coronavirus, you Our first guest since the sports world has been turned upside down. So since you work in sports, since your family, husband and dad and granddad have all been part of the sports world, you know, I'm sure your world has been turned as as upside down as any spy all of this. So could you maybe just speak to what the last week has been like for you? And where you see things may be going as we move forward?



I think I like everyone didn't think we'd get to this point. And a lot of speculation says we're not even close to what more lockdowns we're going to have. Obviously, more cases are going to still continue. So it's it's something that we are all learning together as a community. And sports seems like the least of our concerns, however, to a lot of people and I don't just mean those on air or athletes, it affects a great deal. So I think it's been awesome seeing how the NBA has rallied around to fundraise and players giving money to people who work in the arena's because that's 1000s and 1000s of people who rely on a paycheck from working March Madness games and be a game so that's First of all, that's awesome. And that's such a feel good story. For me, it means I was done with basketball already. I had done the big 10 women's tournament I was hosting at and I feel so lucky to have gotten that experience because truly I think had we gone on another day or two they would have started skimming down our broadcast. So I'm really lucky I got that one little taste of competitive tournament March basketball. What else it means for me is canceling spring football. So I had some ACC spring football games and then in the sec, I had Ole Miss and Mizzou. So now those are gone, which is such a bummer. But, you know, again, I just think I'm it's the least of my concerns. It's all these players and coaches who aren't able to have organized team activities and and get their guys in the weight rooms. And just think of I think this is something we're going to be referencing Back to all college football as terms. Like when we think of how depth progresses, as we think of how walk ons are in scholarships, a lot of that happens in the spring, you know, it's little things that happen during this time that is so, so valuable to these coaches and to think that they're robbed of this time, again, you know, small peaches compared to what is happening in our world. But as it pertains to college football fans, I think this will be something we were talking about a long time that a lot of these storylines and players and depth and assignments are put together in spring football. On the other hand, my dad who does NCAA Tournament has for 25 years. This is his first March not doing the tournament, which is bizarre. And the NBA, he does NBA. Now that's bizarre. So he's at home. And we're all kind of sitting here twiddling our thumbs not sure what to do with ourselves. And the third layer of it just for me personally, is that my husband plays basketball overseas, and their league is canceled for at least another month. So a part of me is hoping it's just cancelled, cancelled, and they wipe their hands clean, clean fix, I would love for him to get home, especially where there may be any more serious travel bans. I'm terrified of him having to stay there longer than he would have to. He's in Russia. And the other part of it is that I can't go see him for the foreseeable future, because I don't think anyone is wanting to get on a flight going overseas right now. So yeah, that's the rundown of what this all has meant. For me. Again, this is all because the majority of my family works in sports. So we're the weird anomaly here. But I think on it just personal human level. It's just really sad to see the way this is affecting so many people financially. It's so sad to see the stock market at lows that we haven't seen in a long time. And it's it's there, a lot of people lose a lot of important things in their life during this time.



Yeah, you bring up a lot of great points. One of the things that has struck me about this, and it's it's really unbelievable, if you think about this is essentially been a week that this has been going on has it hasn't it felt like a year I mean, it's just so many things have happened. And what I've what I've kept thinking, I've mentioned this to my wife a few times is normally in times of struggle in times where the country is feeling anxiety, we look to sports as kind of this this place of respite, right. And as as we turn our lonely eyes to you, Joe DiMaggio, as the song says, Joe's not there, right. So yeah, we're in a really interesting position. I think, as a society, especially a sports fan, because we're looking for some comfort in a time where we feel like we don't know what the next step is. And that that big comfort level is not there. So it's it's just tough. And you bring up so many great points about not just the athletes that it affects the coaches that affects all the people who make their living in sports. And I'm not talking about broadcasters or coaches or support staff, but you're talking about the guy that's that's selling concessions at the arena, all those type things.



Think about the ads, the advert advertisement that had already been sold to CBS for March Madness and into T and T for NBA and, and, you know, it doesn't seem like oh, who cares, you know, if all of a sudden doesn't get their million dollar spot in, but that really has a trickle down effect. And then who are working at Olive Garden corporate, and then what kind of money are they gonna have for budgeting for NFL season? And I mean, it's just I think it's going to be years that we are going to see an effect from what this has done economically because of the cancellation of sports. And it's the more I've sat and thought about it and done research on it, the more I'm shocked This is not just canceling some games this is this is costing a lot of people jobs and millions and millions of dollars.



Well, yeah, I mean, you bring up a great point, I just think that we are not going to know the full story for maybe years, how it affects industry, how it affects the economy, how it affects product on field because as you said, Guys are missing these these developmental periods. You have some kids who who this was it for you know, they're not going to get another shot at that part of it, the tragedy. But hopefully everything passes and it seems that that we have taken some steps to get there and hopefully it's a sooner rather than later. type thing. I want you to kind of speak on your story a little bit. I'm a little bit biased about your story because I have connections to Kansas City myself, my two older brothers and my baby sister all k IU grads. Yeah, so Rock Chalk Jayhawk on that. So I spent a lot of time as a kid and Lauren my brothers lived in Overland Park my brother currently lives in Gardner my sister moved back and work there after college for a little while. So love Kansas City love the City of Fountains love the area. So could you tell us a little bit about growing up there kind of your story and and, and how you got to where you are.



So my dad also went to k U. And he's originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin. His dad worked for the packers and wanted to go to a really good journalism school and at the time, I'm not caught up on its level of competitive Goodness now around the country but at the time Kansas had a really good j school. So he goes there he started doing some work for Kansas athletics. It's funny we have a very similar story. I grew up in Kansas City wanted to go to a great j school found Georgia which has such a great reputation with the Grady school started working for Georgia athletics. So our stories really mirror each other. We just kept going further south. We're gonna go to like, I know Brazilian School of Journalism. That's how he kind of set up he did k u sports. Once he graduated, he moved on to Missouri. He did the Missouri football, broadcast and basketball broadcast for a handful of years. The Kansas City kings were the NBA here, he was working for them. Again, he got the job with the Kansas City kings. first job out of college, I got the job with the Atlanta Hawks first job out of college. So a lot of mirroring going on here. But Kansas City is an amazing city, great place to grow up. And if I have to be socially distancing myself and not able to get on a plane, it's pretty cool to be in this awesome city that I grew up in with my siblings and parents. So we're all home right now. So Kansas City was a big part in shaping who I am great sports town.



Yeah. So with like your mom and dad, he meets your mama. At KU are what's the genesis of their love story?



No, yeah, she she was a high school teacher. She's from Tulsa, Oklahoma went to OU so always when KU and OU played each other especially in basketball. It was it was a lot of fun in our house. So yeah, I have a soft spot in my heart for Oh, you football and I I've always liked all that. So it's funny. I think most people have such random layers of fandom and I'm no exception. And so it's for basketball. I because I married a badger. I love Wisconsin basketball. But because my dad's a Jayhawk. I love k basketball. And anyways, that's a tangent. So no, then she came up here as a high school chemistry teacher. They met when he was living in Kansas City. And three months later, after they met, I kid you not three months after they met, he proposed. They were engaged. They got married within the year, they had my oldest sister. And we were just talking before we started recording, they had four kids and seven years. And I'm number three. And we're all extremely tight. So again, I think being in a big family kind of forces you to be a little bit louder. And if you've got something to say, you've got to really make your point and say it and again, maybe that has some weird point and how I got into the business I'm in but it's all good. They are as loving and as have strong marriage as anyone I know. They're celebrated, I think 32 years now.



Oh, that's incredible. Well, as they say when you know, you know, so that they obviously knew. Oh, that's that's a that's a beautiful story. Yeah. Well, so let me ask you to because you kind of have dual state ship, right. And now you spent a lot of time in Wisconsin as a kid, didn't you? I Door County, is that right?



Very good. Yeah. It's Northeast Wisconsin on Lake Michigan. And because my dad is from Wisconsin, he always wanted to bring his kids up there. And so we spent every summer of my life going to Door County, Wisconsin, which is like just I think a little slice of heaven, like Michigan is so gorgeous. And I'm really grateful to grow up, you know, horseback riding, golfing, sailing, swimming, very idyllic, Midwestern childhood. And then I happen to marry a guy from Wisconsin. And we started thinking of where we want to set up roots, and it seemed pretty obvious. So now we have a home in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where he's from And so yeah, I claim both states. In fact, my husband laughs when someone asked where I'm from, sometimes I say, Wisconsin, because I'm like, where I live now. It's where my grandparents aunts and aunts and uncles in laws, it's where everyone in my family for the most part lives. So I'm like, how do I feel like I'm also from Wisconsin. So I claim both



that's cool. Yeah. So it's funny. I so how far Sheboygan from Madison then



it's two hours almost on the dot. Yep.



Okay. And how far from Lambeau and Green Bay



an hour. So she is pretty well situated. I love I love these Wisconsin geography questions. Wisconsin is also I think, a pretty well kept secret. It's where johnsonville sausage corporate is located. It's where Kohler like the bathroom, toilets and things right Kohler years. There's a lot of big business there, but it's small town, coastal city. I always think it kind of looks like it's in Maine or something big fishing industry. And I just think it's got a feel to it like that. But yeah, and our North Milwaukee and our south of Green Bay, so I go to a lot of Packer home games and get to see my family a lot that way and it's great



that's on my list. lambos on my list I have I have a 2025 Sports things I'd like to do kind of a fourth bucket lists, I guess you would say, and lambos in the list. My dad's been a couple times. He's like, you know, it's one of those experiences that's just kind of magic. Regardless of whether you're a Packers fan or not. It's just one one of those things as a sports fan. It should be at pilgrimage that you take. Let me ask you this. I want to hear your opinion on this. My wife had good friends from when she studied abroad that road crew at University Wisconsin. So we went and visited them at Madison. And first off Madison is probably for me top five towns in America. A plus town



with you. I am so yeah.



But this is what I was thinking about the other day. Don't you think Madison is kind of the Midwest Athens? I mean, Tung Honza bars and all that. Yeah, I mean, just a cool town. Like, I don't know if you



are in food. It's I'm so with you. And it's it's a little, like progressive liberal pocket and otherwise a conservative state. And there's something about the juxtaposition of that, that I feel when I'm in both towns. And yeah, just a very just culture rich hub. And I am so with you, besides the fact that Madison is on beautiful lakes, which true, beautiful city. It is the state capitol. And I don't think a lot of people realize how gorgeous that Capitol building is. You know, it's taller than the US Capitol Building.



I didn't know that. Oh, I love facts like this. Oh, that's that's that's going in the Rolodex. Yeah. So it's,



I just think Madison is a great town, Sam, and I always talk about wanting to ultimately be there. And I would love to, and I he's never been to Athens. So I'm always saying it's just like a southern Madison. Mm hmm.



Yeah. I think that is so fair. And so true. Just we had Seth Emerson on for an interview a couple weeks back, he's, he's awesome. Love his writing. And he told us that he came to Athens from Columbia. And he said, I was sitting in downtown Athens like my first or second day there and I just kind of looked around and I went, you know what? This is This is nice. This is it for me. And and I think there's a lot to that. It's just it's just a great great town. Fun fact about Madison, and I hope I don't date myself this movie reference but that's where they filmed back to school. Rodney Dangerfield back to school. Don't tell me you haven't seen all right. This is this is your this is your quarantine homework. You have to watch that the school with Rodney Dangerfield. So Robert down one Robert Downey Jr. His first movies way, way before Tony Stark and Iron Man. It's a silly plot, but Rodney Dangerfield plays this guy named Thornton Mellon. And he's this phenomenal diver and his son wants to be a diver. Williams opcode the villain from Karate Kid is the villain in this movie to great little at slick it's a it's a little raunchy, so be prepared for that. But it it's it's it's filmed at Madison or in Madison and yes, please watch. I feel old now. So tell me this then. So I know you were in Kansas City. Where'd you where'd you go to high school in Kansas City or your your west of Kansas City?



Yeah, we are. Yeah, West we're on the Kansas side. Like my house is on the Kansas side just by a block from state line. So yeah, like my sister lives. Now she's married with a baby she lives like a seven minute drive from us but she lives in Missouri and so I don't think a lot will realize it's just yeah, it means absolutely nothing. Except when those really hard the Kansas side is always extremely well plowed. And the Missouri side is not so take that for what you want but it it always was more advantageous to live in Kansas during a snowstorm



Yeah, my first question I meet you from Kansas City usually is KC K or KC Mo. And yeah, generally because my brothers live on the Kansas side the whole time he's been there but he worked in Missouri for a number of years so he would drive over but just just interesting. So then How are y'all on the corner then? Like how far are you from the former Oklahoma Joe's barbecue now Kansas City Joe's which is still weird to me.



We walk from our house like it's we're pretty stop it? Yes, yes.



And I would be having three z mans a day right now.



No, we're laughing I think our minute we're going to get that for dinner. You know, we're trying to get creative with what we're eating every night. And we're like, hey, let's just do a whole barbecue night tomorrow night. Let's bring in Kansas City Joe's I'm never going to call it Kansas City Joe's It's okay. I can't it just



it just doesn't feel right. I don't know it just feels weird.



No, I sound better and I do like that. Now you hear it and it's synonymous with Kansas City. But



it's not what it is. No, it's not I feel the same way



but it's our best Yeah, I grew up eating there all the time. So



now tell me if I'm wrong on this but did some reading 2010 you were Miss Kansas Teen USA. Is that correct? Yes, I



was. That's awesome.



I'm sitting in my childhood room right now and I'm looking at the TR and sash that my mom keeps you know up on the wall but kind of a funny backstory on that I was 16 when I one had never done a pageant before didn't know anyone who had done pageants before. It was like something you see on TV and I don't even know if that's silly show like Toddlers and Tiaras was even on them, but I didn't know anything about Patrick Besides watching Miss USA every year, probably on TV. And I started seeing things passed around my high school of like, enter, like, it could be you, you could win, you know, whatever I was. At the same time when I pick up this little pamphlet, I was on my way to see my guidance counselor at our school of college applications and all that. And I was a junior in high school. I had you know, 4.2 GPA, varsity cheerleader and choir and musicals on Student Council on every volunteer thing I was, I was peppering my resume with what I thought would just get me in anywhere. And I was like, and I was dying to go to Northwestern. That was my dream school, because they had a great journalism school, right? And dying to get in. And my guidance counselor said, your resumes great, your grades are great, all this, but there's a million of us. She's like, there's got to be something on there that just is different. That just is going to be somewhat memorable. Long story short, I did not get into Northwestern, and I was absolutely heartbroken. And when I got into Georgia, and I went down with my dad to visit Athens, and he was the one who said you will never regret going to a school like this as the athletics like a Georgia has, yeah, we can be a longtime fan, you know that you're always going to be so proud to say you went to a school like this. And we go and when they sent out some email of welcome in, you know, our upcoming class of 20. Gosh, 15 at the time, I graduated a semester early. It You know, one of the things on there was we have a like they listed like some highlights from their incoming class of students. And one was a 2010, Miss Kansas to say, I was like,



Oh, that's a great joy.



I only went into it to try to put something on my resume because I was obsessed with applying to colleges, and I was obsessed with the idea of going to a great school. And I thought, even though this is something I'm not really interested in, if I were to win, it'd be so great to put that on a resume. And I won and I ironically, it set up so many future things and broadcasting and public speaking events and all the stuff that at 16 I was now doing so it totally paid off in terms of getting me prepared for what was to be my career. But But yeah, I it's funny, I did it just to have something to stand out on college resumes and applications. And what a cool thing that I didn't get into my dream school. But I got into a dream school and what ultimately set me up for everything else I've ever gotten. Pretty, pretty great. Think of it



that is really crazy. But it's one of those things where it kind of everything falls into place. Has it supposed to right. So yeah, that kind of leads into what my next question was gonna because Mike, Mike, the obvious question is you grew up in Kansas City, you have a family in Wisconsin. How in the heck do you end up in Athens, Georgia. So my question was Mina, what other schools Did you apply to? And so Northwestern obviously great one beautiful school. So were they the only two places you apply?



And Syracuse. So I was you know, just going down that line of j school. So I'm geographically all over the place. I'm all over the place in terms of type of school, like Syracuse and Georgia are so different. I got into Syracuse got an academic scholarship to Syracuse. And I had my mom on one hand saying, Well, if that's the best journalism school, that's where you go, and just, it makes so much sense. But my dad who went to Kansas and just loved his time, being a Jayhawk. He was like, I just, I feel like you're going to call us a couple times freshman year, Syracuse, bummed out about the weather homesick, all this stuff that you know, you you're not going to football games, because no one's going to football games, and all this stuff. And it he said, I just think your quality of life is going to be better and Athens, Georgia, I think you're going to make a ton of friends. I think you're going to be around kids like you who love their school, love their sports or social or fun, you know, all this stuff. And no, not to Syracuse at all. And he so he's the one and it's funny, the way everything works out. But because he and I went on this particular college trip where I'd bet on most of them with my mom, that that was it. And you know, obviously I followed in my dad's footsteps in my career, I have such reverence for my dad. So I think him going there and saying, I think you will be happier here that did so much for me. Very funny story too. And for after my experience and how I landed at Georgia and what going to Georgia has done for me. I am just such a believer in fate and everything happening for a reason because my dad and I are walking through the J school. And I'm kind of looking around and I will say as great as great he is. It's not the prettiest pencil in the box. You know, it's I think a lot of people ultimately want to see it reflects how strong of a school it is on the outside. So we're walking through and I'm kind of like, Oh, yeah, you know, yeah, great, great school and I love the campus. Great, isn't it? Yeah, it's not the most impressive facilities and everything that we've seen at some of these other schools. And I don't know if you'll know this name, but Charlie, MK Alexander. He did. Yes, for Josh. Um, which was owned by me. He's walking through the hallway. And he hears my dad and me talking. So he's like, the guy at the time was probably 75, and had been across the SEC forever, and, and just a really recognizable name in that generation. And he hears my dad speaking to me and says, Are you Kevin Harlan? In my blog, this is what my dad hears him. And he goes, are you Charlie MC, Alexander. People, and in that conversation in passing, in Grady in 2011. And they just start talking to me that well, this is my daughter, she's thinking of coming here and, and blah, blah, blah. He says, If you come here, you are going to be my project. I am taking you under my wing. I want you to work for Georgia dogs calm. We have all this access. We have great equipment, you know, I can't you're not going to get paid and you're not going to get any hours. But you are going to get real experience. You're going to be on camera, you're going to be editing, shooting all this I promise like, this is my new project, please come here. I mean, how about that? And then I met with Georgia dogs calm. And I said when I get here as a freshman in August. If I come here, what truly Can I do like that first week of school? Because it had gone to a place like Syracuse where now I was really weighing the probability. had I gone to a place like Syracuse Yes, I would have been in the best classes access to the best professors all this. But what I have my hands on equipment and be on air and editing and really getting the experience and what I wanted to do, maybe not and maybe not for a long time, maybe not till junior senior year. But because Georgia dogs calm was so incredibly gracious. And Maria Taylor had truly that spring before had just left to start working with I think she was with maybe a Comcast or someone before sec network, and then ESPN. But anyway, so they had just turned out Maria Taylor. And now I'm coming in there's something very I think poetic about that. Now we're both with ESPN and super long story. But it just completely defined why I went to Georgia, and they so delivered on their promise. And by that freshman year, I was doing stuff online previewing that that week's game, we went to SEC championship that here. So I mean, it was incredible. I was gonna say you came into it at an awesome time to write I mean that the program took a big upswing, they go to back to back games and 11 and 12 big time talent there with Aaron Murray, Todd Gurley. I



mean, just a lot of generational talent was there at that time. So it's obviously great. From an eyeballs perspective, if you're working for the department. One of the things I was thinking about when I was reading about your journey in college is you worked, you know, I mean, you were working while you were going to school, and I know I did some PR work with the Redskins when I was in B school. And it's it's work. I mean, yes, you guys work like and those hours are not short. And to have that and manage a course load and all those things. My kind of question was part of the job right is to cover the team not to root for the team. So did you find that that your undergraduate experience was maybe a little non traditional and different from maybe someone who went there as an undergrad and is tailgating all day and then go and sit in the student section, all that type stuff.



I think the whole time I was at Georgia, which like I said, I graduated a semester early and I was cut short of that spring but I think I went to maybe three football games as a fan over the course of four football seasons. That being said, I totally enjoyed it. It was always like a parent's weekend or something like that. When my mom would come into town my dad could never come in the fall he was working NFL and so I I feel like I got a taste of it. Sometimes I think did I miss out a little bit on on some of that. But how can I look back and say that when that time has given me so much so it's it's incredible. Like I covered swim and dive I covered golf. I covered equestrian. I like I covered all of our sports.



They have a great equestrian team.



They do they do and how would I national champions? Yes. So I am I more than got my feet wet. I got you know knee deep in everything I was doing and like you said yeah, long hours. If I wanted to pitch a piece like we have Shannon breeland who was Olympic gold medalist swimmer at Georgia, and I was like, Oh my God, we have an Olympic gold medalist like can I do a sit down feature with her which required two cameras, two people to operate those cameras me and her sitting at the pool and Athens lights, but I edited the whole thing and I spent weeks editing this piece which was, I think a form minute piece all together. And it was my baby, it was like the first thing I like really turned out and put all this effort into and I really got the bug for editing, I ended up really liking that. And I'm so grateful to have that, you know, I think careers evolve a lot. And I'm proud that that's somewhere in my tool belt. I just I got incredible reps there and just yeah, reps. Every time a college kid reaches out to me, what can I be doing blah, blah, blah, just fail on a small stage just rep it out. There's there's no replacement for that and, and find something outside of your classes. There's no excuse not to there's, it's it's these phones we have are incredible. So take your phone, and do a weekly preview of that teams, whatever, you know, there's absolutely no excuse or no limitation to the technology we have and put yourself out there and make a little reel and put it on YouTube. The your classes are not enough they just aren't I don't care where you go to school, do your work in the classroom and in your j school are just nowhere near what you really should be doing to get the reps that require, you know, the famous line 10,000 hours, you need 10,000 hours to be good at anything. And you're not going to get that in a classroom. You're just not so yeah, and it's funny the program I, which again, it was Maria Taylor, and then it was me and it was a small staff of you know, full time employees who work there and, and then a couple interns, we got no hours, and we got no money. And now it's a really competitive program because kids are coming from all over the country like I did, saying I want to breathe, I want to be Maria Taylor, I want to be Olivia Dekker. I want to work for ESPN. And so now it's attracting kids to this program. So now it's like, it's like audition based it's like application base. It's a really competitive thing. And I believe now they get credit hours. It's it's a really well oiled machine now. And I'm so proud of how far it's come. But when I was there it was it was not a lot in terms of college kids. There. So I again, total right place right time, because now if I go I wouldn't have the access to do the things that they let me do. So I am just so so appreciative of my time there. I definitely struck while the iron was hot.



I think there's some poetry to the fact that you went to Georgia to with your so your granddad was CEO of the Packers, correct?



Yeah, for 20 years.



Yeah. So there's there's unique history between the power g GA, that was lifted from the power greenbay G.



So another small piece of trivia you ready for this?



I'm ready, I love the cuff stuff like this hit me with



the difference in the size of the G like a quarter, quarter, quarter, quarter quarter of a centimeter it's very slightly off, but one of them. And I believe it's the GA G is just that much wider. And that's why they're able to trademark differently because both extremely historic programs. And they also believe the GA g came first.



So I there's competing, there's competing theories on this, the one that I choose to believe, because it's just the wormhole of all wormholes, and it's phenomenal, is there was apparently a track coach at UGA in the early 60s. And I can't remember what the genesis of the story was, if it was his son, or maybe it was maybe it was a player who had gone to Packers training camp and had gotten cut, but brought back a bag of stuff. And it had some of the logos and he had put one of the logos on his car. And Coach Dooley was looking for a new logo. And there's some type of daisy chain there where the track coach's wife, her dad was one of the equipment managers for the Packers. So the track coach calls the equipment manager and they he sends him a bunch of the logos like the stick helmet stickers. And then Coach dooleys like, I love that that's what we should use because they had just shifted from the full silver helmets to the like the block G on the side. And then that the transition occurred in the early 60s time because my understanding is that the packers and Lombardi pretty clearly established it first. But that there were these just funky connections between the athletic department at Georgia and folks inland in Green Bay with the Packers. Like how wild is that? Okay, that



is extremely wild. And when you think about the Packers main logo, they're recognizable worldwide famous logo of the G it's kind of an odd it's like it's like a San Francisco's main letter was like s it's like huh, like it's like, you know, it's like they have the key it's kind of an odd thing when you think about it you know it's a good story. I never knew that.



Wow, yeah, I'll have to have to send you like the the actual full story cuz I mean they have names the whole deal and my mom's like exploding like this is this is insane. story. I love stuff like I love like origin stories. Yeah, well, so then take me through this because if my reading is right, did you start doing full time work like working with the Hawks while you were still an undergrad?



Yep. And that is also very weird. It's It's crazy. The older I get, the more I reflect back on this time in my life, I'm like, the odds of all this happening the right way were so slim. And that's why I just like I said, I just anything in life you don't get I'm now the biggest believer because I'm a product of this anything you don't get that you want. There's such a reason. And anyways, I just I got so lucky with like, 20 million things, having the lineup for all this to happen. So I worked freshman year to senior year just working like a like a dog, just at my time with Georgia dogs calm. And as I got to that senior football season, and now we had some other interns, I was the more veteran one because I had been there so long. And I asked my boss Audra, who's still someone I totally attribute a lot of my early success to and I said, Could I do a weekly feature with one football player and we'll call dog sitting. And you know, I want it to look really sharp, I want to have a couple different cameras, I want great lighting, and it'll be this great thing. Got the approval for that. So that was awesome. So we would shoot that on like a Wednesday, I'd edit it Thursday and Friday, we drop it Saturday morning, then I would do the Tuesday press conference. So I'd be the only person from and set up our cameras sit there, you know, take notes, make sure everything was white balanced. And the audio is working and everything like that. So is that every Tuesday press conference? By the way, I had a Tuesday class at the same time I miraculously showed up for the first couple minutes. Like heard, hightailed it out of there, make the press conference. So I just yeah, I considered this a job. I was extremely professional. And I'm so glad I was I'm so glad I was like oh, well, you know, this, this class, you know, this, whatever, who cares? Like truly had I not graduated, this was more important. It really, really was and, and I always knew that. And I always thought if if I have to stretch out school for whatever reason, you know, blah, blah, and more on that later. But I got the approval for the dog sitting feature, which was huge. And then I asked could I do not live because we didn't have that capability. And you can't show any game footage because of TV rights. I said, Could I do hours and hours and hours before kickoff on the field preview of that day's game, and then I'll edit it up in the suites, you know, this we're talking 8am 9am and up in the suites at the stadium. And it'll it has had an air you know, because of the laws of TV rights. It had air a certain amount of time before the game started all that so I got the green flag on that. It's like all right, this is so major, a lot of people are gonna watch this just Georgia fans all over the world. This is huge. And at that time, I had shaped my reel over and over and over. And I feel like and I'm I you can YouTube and still see it. I cringe at it. Now, of course because you grow. I thought this was so good. I was like, I need to get this reel out everywhere. So I did I just promoted it and just I sent the link to everyone I knew and everyone I could and asking for feedback and constantly trimming it down and adding more recent stuff and all this and finally I got a call from Fox Sports out in Atlanta. And they said can you come in for an on air interview? And we'd like to consider you for the Atlanta Hawks job. I was like, Oh my gosh, that's amazing. So I studied all up on the Hawks, what's everything I need to know about their upcoming season, it was gonna be coach Wooten holders second season, so he was kind of a hot new coach. We had these great players that ultimately would all be named all stars that season



again, is this 1415 season for the Hawks. Is that right? Or 1314 1415.



And also at the time I had I done summer credits online and study abroad. So I was already a little ahead on credits. But I was not going to graduate early for anything but I go into this interview in Atlanta, I drive into the city. I meet with the EP Randy Stevens again, someone on my shortlist I really attribute my success to and we go through the meeting, he's asked me about the Hawks. He's asked me about my approach to broadcasting all this and never asked for a resume never asked no Certificate of degree or nothing like that. And I'm walking out and he says Well, great. We'd really like to offer you the job. And in fact could we add in some some football we have about three sec football games we could give you in the first ones in two weeks. It's Memphis at Ole Miss. You know, can you do it? And I was like, a yo yo, yo, uh, sure cat. Yes, I will be there. By the way, we also have a studio show we would want to tape you'd be the host and beyond teleprompter. Our suit here's our studios. They're gorgeous. Once a week called ACL access, can you do that? Uh huh. Yep. Yes, I sure can. Yes, thank you, sir. And I'm walking out and I'm feeling just like I'm being, like, disingenuous. And I'm like, I just I need to be completely transparent and make sure that you know, I'm still a student at University of Georgia. And I'm just just my senior year, I'm 21. I was 21 years old. And he said, Okay, well, if you can make it work, we can, too. And I said, Okay, I can make it work. And I remember calling my parents on the way home and saying, you know, this is going to keep me out of class, a lot of time, like, this is going to be a Wednesday studio in Atlanta and traveling with the Atlanta Hawks. And like, I know, I just have to get to June to December. But I don't know if I can, I might have to truly consider putting off the rest of this semester and finishing my degree later. And they both were just saying, You're never going to go back and finish it. So make it work. So I did I just, I just made it work. I I'd go from a Class A lot of times to Atlanta to do a hawks game that night, and then get back in my car and you know, get back at two in the morning and get up early for an 8am. And that was my first little taste of Okay, prove how much you want this. And I thought I had worked hard all through college. This was as much as I was ever tested. And I'm so grateful for that last semester. And I graduated a semester early that December am still kept. I was rooming with three girls like you do in college, you room with a million people. And they would not let me out of the lease, which, whatever, that's probably another story. But I was like, Okay, I'll still have a place in Athens. And I'll still kind of come around when I have a day or two off. And I'm also really grateful I had that because I still got to kind of enjoy that spring semester, which was all of my friends last semester in school. So again, very long story short, but the Hawks needed someone right then Foxworth South needed someone right then. And it was like the first weekend of October after I just gotten all these great things to do with Georgia football that now I had to say I can no longer to. But of course they were so supportive. They're like, Oh my gosh, take the job. that's a that's a dream job. And I did, I got thrown into the real world of all this very, very quickly. But I I landed at a great spot. Fox works out as an amazing employer.



That wraps up part one of our interview with Olivia boss, what were your thoughts on the first part of the chat with Olivia?



First thing, she is, for lack of a better term tenacious with her work ethic, I was taken aback just listening to her story. I mean, college in its own is tough. Doing everything she did with Georgia dogs calm on top of that is impressive. Then you throw in the stuff she did with the Hawks her last semester. I mean, that's just unbelievable. I When did she sleep? I was taken aback by that. And then I mean, she obviously gets the work ethic like that from her parents. She talked a little about their story. It's wildly impressive. And she's taken the bull by the horns and she's put in a lot of hard work to get to where she is and she deserves every single thing that she has with her career. And I was really impressed by it with everything she had to say. And her love of sports comes through with everything she had to say and her love of Athens comes through with everything she has to say. But not only does she love Athens, she also has a very big affinity for Madison, as well where her husband to school so she loves college town. It was a great interview. She was very kind with her time and y'all had a very good rapport as well. I love the Rodney Dangerfield bring in didn't age yourself too. Well, you know, I'm a big fan of that movie as well. But no, it was great interview. Part two is also very good as well.



Yeah, man Olivia me feeling old hadn't seen back to school? I don't know that's probably not some kid appropriate. I should be putting on the airwaves. But anybody under the age of 18 listen to podcasts. Do not watch that movie without your parents. But hopefully Olivia has watched it so she'll be she'll be no my jokes now. But that was funny. I you know, I just want to, you know, say that she she really was just a delight. I mean, I think if you are an alum of the University of Georgia or you are connected to the University of Georgia in any way, you should be proud that she is a graduate and an ambassador for the university. I firmly believe after talking with her that the world will be her oyster professionally, she will do and go as far as she chooses to go. You can just tell that in addition to being such a hard worker, that she works in a spirit of gratitude, and what a combination that is so we had a great time and we're so thankful that she came on to spend some time with us and we're also excited for y'all to hear Part Two more great stuff from Olivia so please follow her. Please support her in any way you can. And we will look forward to to hearing Part Two and go dog. Go dogs.

Olivia Harlan DekkerProfile Photo

Olivia Harlan Dekker

Sports Reporter and Host