A week ago Massachusetts native Courtney Fallon got to live out every Boston sports fan's dream.
Fallon was on the sideline reporting for ESPN when the Boston Cannons brought another championship home to Boston. As someone who grew up in the area, covering another title in the City of Champions was quite an amazing experience.
But, before that opportunity Fallon had an impressive journey to get where she is today. I had the privilege of speaking with her through email over the past few days. Hopefully you'll enjoy learning how a kid from Winchester has now become an important piece of the Boston media puzzle as much as I did.
WHERE IT ALL STARTED
Fallon was born and raised in Winchester. During her time as a Sachem Fallon was a two sport varsity athlete. Fallon followed that up by heading to the University of Maryland where sports still played a key role in her life.
"Soccer was really my passion and first love," Fallon said. "Winter track I was a four-time varsity letterman and captain. I played lacrosse lightly at the start of high school but played club soccer in the spring mostly. I picked lacrosse back up seriously at the University of Maryland where I played club lacrosse for three seasons, but definitely wasn't good enough to go D1."
WORKING FOR THE BEST MARKET IN THE COUNTRY
Fallon has had the rare experience of working for both 98.5 The Sports Hub and now currently at WEEI. Fallon's worked for multiple outlets including stops in Florida as well as NFL Network, MSG Networks and CBS Sports Network.
The national gigs are one thing, but working for two of the biggest stations in the country is a hell of an accomplishment.
"Man, it's like talking difference in time travel," Fallon said when asked what the difference was working for both stations. "When I graduated from Maryland in 2009 I sent an updated demo from one of my internship tapes from either SiriusXM NFL or ESPN 980 in DC to Rick Radzik (program director at the Sports Hub). He was impressed, and there you have it: I was the first female voice and hire at The Sports Hub in August of 2009. "
RAISED ON SPORTS RADIO
Fallon has been passionate about sports forever. Like many of us in this area and business she was raised on sports radio which only fueled the fire more.
"I was raised on sports radio," she said. "The funny story is that I wrote my college essay about calling into WEEI and getting shot down 'because I was only 16, and because I was a woman' (time travel, exactly as I said). I was Courtney from Winchester. When I finally got on the air and they gave me about 10 seconds of air time before shutting me out, I was so excited when I finally realized what happened. I couldn't wait until I could call back again.
"I used to skip a few periods of school at WHS a day. I'd call myself in, grab my Dunkin Donuts coffee and listen to Dennis and Callahan. I had that station on my dial from 6 in the morning until around 10:30 at night. So, being a part of the new rivalry of radio stations at the very start is special to me. Moving back home to Boston last November and actually becoming a part of the WEEI rotation as one their first female voices in a long time, was of course special. But, it's all part of the story as well."
GETTING INVOLVED WITH ESPN
They say timing is everything, and in this case it couldn't be more true. Fallon wasn't planning on heading to Maryland for the MLL season and tournament, but one quick meeting changed all of that.
"I have been home working and got connected to MLL Commissioner Sandy Brown. Their offices are a stones throw from WEEI," Fallon explained. "He wanted some advice as to how to put this MLL 2020 season together and optimize the marketing and branding opportunities. So, Sandy brought me in to compare rolodexes. We were heavy in discussions for about 45 minutes when I slyly suggested that if he needed a sideline reporter for the tournament on ESPN let me know. That's about as fast as it happened. I sent my tape over to him and an associate at ESPN, and it took them about 20 minutes. I was in. I was floored, I couldn't believe it."
Fallon also had to learn on the fly once getting the gig for ESPN.
"The challnege that laid ahead of me to learn not only the linguistics and terminology of an entirely new sport but names and faces of six teams collaborating with a broadcast team. I dropped everything and worked harder than I ever had in my life. The preparation for something like this does not go unnoticed. I reached out to many mentors and colleagues in the past for their advice.
"I hadn't been a sideline reporter in over five years. After just a few sideline hits, I hit my stride and the rest is history. I always belonged on a sideline. As a correspondent, I made sure to acquiesce to the odd circumstances and make sure the audience felt as close to the action as possible."
LIVING THE BUBBLE LIFE AND COVERING A BOSTON CHAMPIONSHIP
Fallon was right in the middle of the chaotic end to the week. The Bayhawks had players test positive. Both Chesapeake and Connecticut then forfeited their semifinal game. That left Denver and Boston as the last two teams standing.
"As you know, about eight days in the bubble, things got a little henched up," Fallon said. "Unprecedented times, and I suddenly realized how difficult it's going to be for any of these sports to continue to a championship without hiccups. Following Sean Quirks guys all week, they had this underdog mentality. They played with a HUGE chip on their shoulder, why does everything always have to be about Denver and Chesapeake?
"In Boston, we always talk about 'Man…. it's been _ days since the last championship…' It started to hit me that this team was going to win it all with around three minutes left in the game."
THAT CHAMPIONSHIP FEELING
As the final seconds ticked down, Fallon's reaction was exactly what you'd expect. If you grow up in this area championships are obviously special, but covering one in a pandemic? That's just storybook type stuff.
"Nicky Marrocco was stuffing the MLL Hall of Famer John Grant Jr at point blank range in the net. You knew this trophy was coming back to Boston. When the final seconds ran down my jaw was wide open. I got chills and was wide eyed and had my camera ready to capture the Cannons celebrating. I couldn't believe it! I was just laughing thinking to myself this is poetic justice. A Boston girl given the opportunity to cover an unprecedented MLL tournament, then the Boston team walks away on top. It was awesome to witness."
Fallon's path to covering a Boston championship under ridiculous circumstances is quite an impressive one. More importantly, her story is one for young girls or guys growing up in the area to look up to. Fallon has displayed hard work and dedication towards a passion of hers, and it's an example that everyone can follow.
Just as long as no more bubbles are involved.