TD in New England: Virginia Tech alum lands job with Patriots
Tamara Brown has never been one to take the easy road. The Virginia Tech School of Communication alumna has made treks all over the United States in pursuit of the next big sports journalism career.
Her determination has taken her from Indiana to New York, across the country to Colorado, and back east to Florida. She has always been willing to spell faith r-i-s-k, and now that attitude has paid off. In July, Brown caught a touchdown in Foxborough, Massachusetts, as the new team reporter and producer for the New England Patriots.
“Through patience and persistence and networking, I’ve been able to secure this job,” Brown said. “You just have to be willing to take those risks to move. I’ve been moving all over the country since I graduated from Virginia Tech.”
Working in the National Football League isn’t new for Brown. Upon graduation in 2015, Brown spent two years working as a talent/personality for Fighting Irish Media at the University of Notre Dame. From there, she decided to take a postgraduate internship with the New York Giants as a production assistant.
It was more than just a chance to build up experience working in the NFL environment; it was also a chance to connect and keep those relationships throughout her career. That’s why after two more stops in Colorado Springs as the on-air host for the Mountain West Conference and in Miami as a social media correspondent for the University of Miami Athletics, Brown’s New York connection paid off.
A friend from Brown’s time with the Giants notified her that the job with the Patriots had opened and asked whether she would be interested. It was a no-brainer for Brown. She passed her résumé along and three rounds of interviews later found her next landing spot in New England.
“Through my journey I’ve been able to build a network,” Brown said. “It’s so important when you’re networking not just try to meet as many people as possible, but to keep up with those people and build relationships with them. Frankly, that’s how I got to where I am now.”
It was Brown’s four years at Virginia Tech studying multimedia journalism that shaped and molded her into the professional she is today. Her role as manager of Virginia Tech’s women’s basketball team, for example, enabled her to network with the strategic communications staff and HokieVision, the production unit of Virginia Tech Athletics.
“It was such a blessing to go to a school like Virginia Tech and have resources readily available to me. I tell people all the time when they reach out to me that Tech has a great athletics department,” Brown said.
“I had access to people like April Goode, who traveled with the team, and Andrew Allegretta, who was our radio play-by-play guy for Learfield IMG. Having those people and being able to build those relationships as you’re traveling was awesome. That started early at Virginia Tech. Then, I was able to start working men’s basketball games and I was able to get involved with HokieVision.”
Allegretta, who now serves as Vanderbilt University’s director of radio broadcasting, got a front-row seat to see Brown’s growth early in her career. In addition to traveling together with the Hokies women’s basketball team, Allegretta taught Brown as an adjunct professor for the sports journalism course.
“It was clear early on that Tamara had a well-defined vision for what she wanted and the confidence to reach those goals,” Allegretta said. “Her skills and work ethic have been obvious over the years, and I’m so happy for her that she’s been able to establish herself in a challenging business. She’s made Virginia Tech very proud.”
Not only has Brown made Virginia Tech proud, but she’s opening the door and carving out the path for other women to land jobs in sports careers. Her passion for female empowerment in the sports industry is hard to go unnoticed.
“Having women in this field is so important,” Brown said. “If there’s one thing I learned through my five-year journey working in sports, it’s that we have to pull up chairs for each other at the table. Often when you look around the table, when you look around the room, there’s only one or two of us there.”
It’s why Brown makes herself available on a daily basis to connect with aspiring female sports journalists. She’ll have honest conversations with these women to guide them on their journey as they chart their own path. It can even be as simple as Brown passing along job opportunities and looking over a résumé or reel.
“For me, we’re a sisterhood,” Brown said. “We’re not competing against each other. There are opportunities for everyone. It’s my job to make more seats at the table for women in sports because I feel like the sky is the limit for us. We bring such unique viewpoints and perspectives to this industry, and there needs to be more of us in it.”
That attitude is already having a profound impact on the current students in the School of Communication who are a part of the sports media and analytics major. In the first meeting of the semester this year for 3304 Sports, the multimedia online platform for student sports journalism at Virginia Tech, Bill Roth was blown away by the number of women present.
“There are more women involved in our program now than ever before,” said Roth, a professor of practice and former Voice of the Hokies. “Tamara laid the groundwork for that to happen. Young women see her and think, ‘If she can come to Virginia Tech and work with the Patriots, then I can too.’ She’s such a wonderful example to our students.”
So what’s next for Brown? The long days of training camp recently concluded for the Patriots. The time spent creating content from practices and buzz for the start of the season transitioned into game-week preparation for pregame and postgame coverage of New England’s first game on Sept. 12.
In the midst of it all, Brown will continue to soak up all the information around her in similar fashion to Patriots’ rookie quarterback, Mac Jones.
“Mac Jones is being a sponge, trying to take in everything he can from his coaches and the players around him,” Brown said. “Well, I’m doing the same thing. I’m being a sponge. I’m new to this league just like Mac Jones is. I’m trying to take in everything I can.”
It’s been a constant theme in Brown’s life. Every step of the way, she has waited her turn, mastering the playbook throughout the journey. Now, she’s leading from the forefront and thriving in the starting role.
“Right now, as I’m sitting in this position, I’m so grateful I took all those production internships, social media jobs, and sponsorship jobs because they all ultimately helped me get to where I am today,” Brown said. “I look back and I’m like, ‘Wow, if I had gotten this job three years ago I wouldn’t have been ready.’ Appreciate the process because you are gaining the skills and the knowledge and the resources you need to ultimately land your dream job.”
Story by Cory Van Dyke