College wasn’t easy for the now host of ESPN’s NBA Countdown. Sage Steele was extremely shy and always afraid to speak in public. It was so bad that her parents almost took her to specialists. So, how ironic that she was asked to give the commencement speech at Indiana University.
After wondering why they chose her, she decided to use her unique perspective and academic struggles she faced. There was a time that this national TV personality was called into the Dean’s office for having poor grades.
“People see you on TV and see this smile and the clothes and this amazing job,” Steele says. “It’s all true, but it’s okay to let people in on the other side.”
It’s refreshing when celebrities can share their imperfections and struggles, so that we can see their journey. It helps us along in our own. Steele had dreams and had something to prove.
Her father, Gary, was the first black player to make the varsity Army football team in 1966. His accomplishment reminds her of a line from the West Point “Cadet Prayer” that says, “Make us to choose the harder right of the easier wrong.”
Over the years, Steele would bring herself back to that prayer. Even after landing her first job in Indianapolis at a local CBS affiliate in 1997. Despite being a visible sports anchor and reporter, she was making $23,000 and was in credit card debt.
She was up for a $2,000 raise and decided to ask the new director for an advance on that raise due to her hard work. e responded, “You’re not worth it.”
Clearly, the news director didn’t see her worth. He didn’t know the poised, articulate, and experienced professional she was to become. He saw someone he could push around – more like hold down. He didn’t realize who Sage Steele was meant to become. This was a “cross roads” moment and she went back to the prayer. She chose the harder right.
Being young, a woman, and African-American was not exactly the most accepting combination. So, she hired an agent and found another job in Florida and the rest is history.
Had she not walked out of the new director’s office that day defeated, we would never know SportsCenter anchor, Sage Steele.
As women, we are faced with similar trials and challenges, while chasing our dreams. It’s easy to choose the easier wrong or just give up. Sage Steele’s journey reminds us to be flexible, adaptable, and steadfast in achieving our dreams.