Caldwell gets a shot off during a Menlo basketball game. Photo Courtesy of Jackie Caldwell
After four years on the Menlo girls’ basketball team, alumna Jackie Caldwell (‘09) pursued collegiate basketball at UCLA. According to Caldwell, her time playing for the Bruins deepened her love for basketball and opened the door to pursue sports reporting after graduation.
Caldwell was a lifelong UCLA fan and was ecstatic to join their basketball program when the opportunity arose. At UCLA, Caldwell majored in political science, which helped improve her writing skills.
With Division I basketball consuming so much time, Caldwell had no choice but to balance her frequent workouts with focusing on her future career goals in writing. “I think Menlo did a really great job preparing me for a workload and just really understanding how to balance and time manage, which was something that was really crucial in college,” Caldwell said. “A lot of people that I came across didn’t have those skills.”
Menlo basketball also provided Caldwell with lasting high school memories. “Team wise, my senior year, we made a good run in CCS, and that was the first time the school had accomplished that in a number of years,” Caldwell recalled.
At the collegiate level, basketball consumed Caldwell’s days significantly more than during high school. “I think that in college athletics departments, your world can become very insular to sports, and it’s hard to look outside at times. I tried to take advantage of that as much as possible,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell believes her spot on the Bruins team has allowed her to take advantage of many networking opportunities. “I got my first internship with Wasserman Media Group, which is down in LA because a bunch of agents that work there play pickup on UCLA’s campus, so I just went to them and asked if I could get an internship my senior year, and that’s how I ended up with a job,” Caldwell said. “I knew I really liked working in the sports industry, and it felt like something that I could talk about and was passionate about.”
After her internship, Caldwell eventually found her first sports reporting job at Bleacher Report, a popular sports-reporting network. According to Caldwell, the job was especially ideal because she wanted to move back to the Bay Area, where the company is based. After working at Bleacher Report for several years, she switched over to Just Women’s Sports to run digital content for the company.
Several factors inspired Caldwell’s job change, primarily the impact she wanted to leave for her daughter. “If I can leave the sports and the sports media industry in a better place than I found it, I feel that would be a great accomplishment in my career,” Caldwell said.
Along with improving the industry, though, Caldwell also believed there was so much momentum in reporting on women’s sports. “There’s so much momentum with [Name, Image and Likeness deals] with the growth of leagues like the [National Women’s Soccer League] and the WNBA, and it was just something I wanted to be a part of,” Caldwell said.
At Just Women’s Sports, Caldwell mainly serves as the head of content. She connects with everyone at the company, including social media managers, production staff and the editorial staff. “[I’m] making sure that we’re managing our budgets correctly, that we are on track to hit deadlines [and] making sure that we’ve got solid creative things that align back to what we want our brand to be,” Caldwell explained.
Caldwell loves tapping into her creative side with her new position as the head of content, but she also loves managing the other staff in creative roles. “From a management perspective, I get to manage people that are far more creative than me, which I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to be around those people and see the way that they think,” Caldwell said. “Just helping people tap into their most creative ideas is something that I find really exciting.”
Down the line, Caldwell and Just Women’s Sports both want to continue promoting women’s sports and working towards equal coverage. “I think that we can be a couple million followers [strong, and] help not just create new women’s sports fans, but also raise a generation of sports fans that include women’s sports in their fandom,” Caldwell said. “For me, personally, I’m wearing more hats than I ever have. So just continuing to refine my skills […] so I can be a better leader.”
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