Allie Clifton: ‘You can’t fake who you are’

My post-grad class had a wonderful time with Allie Clifton, who is the Spectrum TV pre-game host for the L.A. Lakers telecasts. She played college ball at Toledo, work for the ABC affiliate doing sports there, caught on with the Cleveland Cavaliers’ broadcast team, and has been with the Lakers for a couple of years. She talked with us for nearly an hour, and was open and smart and helpful. I’ve pulled a few of the gems she passed on.

On her professional path

“I’m 32 and I still wake up and wonder if I’m heading in the right direction. If I’m doing what’s right. If I’m putting myself in the best position to succeed.

“You have to have that inner drive because it’s competitive just as much as it was competitive for me between the lines on the court. It is that much competitive or even more so competitive in the profession I am in now. You can have a goal. You can have an idol. You can look to so many others in particularly this business and say you want to be that person.

“But the one thing I’ve learned is you can’t fake who you are. You have to be true to who you are. And along the way, there are those doubts and there are those failures and as an athlete. I learned without failure. There is no success.

What she wishes she had known at 22

I think the one constant is I wish I would have known is that preparation and hard work will forever be necessary and important. I’ve had moments where I’ve gone into a broadcast and I’ve walked away on a high and I felt real confident and I felt great. And there’s ultimately  moments of just like wanting to relax and just kind of relish in the moment and take it all in.

“I think of Cleveland and those six years I traveled with the team. And I covered every single game. I went to every single practice and in six seasons. I probably missed five, five to seven practices. It gets exhausting. And so there’s moments where you do have those great broadcast and you want to just go back to your hotel room on the road and go to sleep or you want to get on that airplane, as you guys catch that flight to the next city. Get in at 2:30 in the morning and you have a back to back, and a broadcast.

“That’s just like the one thing that I didn’t understand — how much hard work and preparation goes into being successful in this business and really anything in life.”

On hearing “no”

I don’t know how many no’s and in as many ways that I received. I know, while getting my master’s, that I received that there would never become a yes. And lo and behold, it did it happen. And that was my opportunity in Cleveland. But you have to be persistent through all of those no’s. You know I played college basketball, Division One, at the University of Toledo, Mid-American Conference, and I was told at one point that I couldn’t work at a specific network because I didn’t play in their conference. And I mean, you talk about giving everything you have for four years to the university and sacrificing time with your family and friends …to get that kind of no was hard. And so I think just understanding that, one’s no could be another person’s yes.”

Networks

“It’s like the biggest key in this game is you can never be connected enough because those people could ultimately be a mentor of yours. That can ultimately be that foot in the door to your next opportunity that you didn’t see coming. And so I think: stay persistent and know that there is an opportunity out there for you. You just have to keep going for it. It’s important. And it takes again a lot of work. But it’s worth it. It is worth it.”