Kari Van Horn grew up in the game of baseball and it continues to be an integral part of her life. She’s the Digital Beat Journalist at ABC15 in Arizona, and we had the opportunity to speak with her about her life, career, and advice for young women.
Baseball is in the Van Horn’s blood and woven into the fabric of their family. Kari played softball for the University of Southern California, her dad was a scout, broadcaster, and coach. Her brother Brandon, currently plays in the San Francisco Giants organization.
“Baseball has been everything to my family. My first outing, I was 24 days old. My father was a broadcaster for the Braves at the time. They brought me down and I was no bigger than home plate. It was Padres at Braves. They brought me up into the broadcasting booth for radio. Ever since baseball has been the biggest part of my life.”
Growing up in Los Angeles, she was surrounded by major sports teams and it would’ve been natural for her to pursue a career in sports. At the time, Van Horn planned on becoming a dolphin trainer until a meeting with a school counselor would make her reconsider.
“I worked as hard as I possibly could and went to my dream school, which was USC. The counselor there said ‘You’re going to have to take pre-med bio, pre-med chem, pre-med physics and an English class that everyone fails all the time.’ On top of that, balance the schedule of an athlete. I walked out from the meeting and thought ‘What else do I know?’ I called one of my best friends and he said ‘You know sports. Why don’t you talk sports?”
Van Horn followed her friend’s recommendation and began working towards her double major in Psychology and Social Sciences, as well as a minor in Sports Media Studies. Hard work and internships would later propel her career into working for industry giants such as ESPN, the NFL, CBS and ABC15 in Arizona. Each experience has helped mold her into the journalist that she is today.
“I had over 20 internships while I went to school. Because of my hard work, I got hired by Yahoo Sports out of college. It was amazing because of my social media account and all of the effort that I put into that. I got to cover the World Cup and the Winter Olympics. Then I got picked up by NFL.com and the NFL Network for the season. After that, I got picked up by CBS in Georgia. I got to cover the major sports there, along with country music. They gave me a segment all to myself in the 5 pm show, it was Monday through Friday. It was incredible. I was very fortunate and blessed for the opportunity. I got a call from ABC out here and they created a job for me.
Every single stop along the way, I’ve learned something that’s been incredible to furthering and advancing my career. It’s not what I usually learn from asking questions, but more so from being silent, watching and observing. Every single step along the way has shaped me into the journalist that I am today.”
Van Horn’s position as the Digital Video Beat Journalist for ABC15 Arizona offers her creative freedom to cover a wide array of events. The position also comes with great responsibility, as it requires her to be the reporter, camera woman, editor, and writer.
“It’s been an amazing opportunity. The news director called me and said, ‘We want to take a chance and create this new journalistic position where we mold the fields of digital, social, editor, writer, reporter, producer and tv together. The whole chain of tv stations is going out on a limb and we want you to be the first. If and when you have success with this position, we’re going to go ahead and roll out to a bunch of other stations.’ It was a magnificent opportunity to be a prototype.”
ABC15 had a general idea of grabbing people’s attention with pop culture, news, music, entertainment, sports, and food. The diversity of topics fit in well with her personal interests and passions.
“I have so many interests and passions with sports being the number one. To have a job that allows me to wrap them all together and develop this role has been so exciting. I’m very thankful. I owe a debt of gratitude to my supervisors and my bosses. They allowed me to branch out and do what I want with this job.”
Her passion for food and social media savvy, have allowed her to build an engaged audience through Twitter. Her messages resonate on a daily basis with her followers and she has become Twitter’s First Lady of Food™.
“I realized that growing up at ballparks, my lunches and dinners were cold hot dogs, cold nacho cheese, and sunflower seeds. This whole new movement of ballpark food has resonated with me so strongly. It’s so creative, inventive, meaty, cheesy and it’s so much fun and attention grabbing. You think what kind of glutton would stuff their face with this? Then you see a six-year-old running around with a helmet full of loaded nachos with everything on it. Food gets the brain thinking. When you pair it with things that are fun, such as a positive attitude and sports, how could you not fall in love with those kinds of treats?
— Kari Van Horn (@KariVanHorn) March 23, 2017
I love the opinions. You have to get the pros and the cons. I’m thankful for my Twitter family. They’re witty, quick thinking and responsive. They’re so hilarious. How could I not share them?
Van Horn offers the following advice for those that want to work in sports media:
“Never give up chasing your dream. Just like the athletes that are fifth-year seniors that don’t have any money. The same underdog stories that we love to report on in sports are happening in our field. It’s so important, now more than ever that there are opportunities for women in sports. Jump through those hoops and not be closed minded. Being a well-rounded applicant is the best thing that you can do for yourself. You never know what opportunity is going to present itself to you. Showing that you are a strong, well-read, well-educated and well-researched women in baseball, is going to knock down all those barriers.”
Photo Credit: Kari Van Horn