NAME: Lauren Gardner
OCCUPATION: Sports/entertainment host and reporter
HOBBIES: Aviation (Gardner earned her private pilot license last May), snowboarding, traveling, and volunteer work
FACTOID: CBS offered Gardner an interview last year after spotting her in another reporter’s demo reel.
Denver native Lauren Gardner has announced in-game contests for the Rockies and Avs and reported on the Mammoth for Altitude Sports. Now you can find her on CBS Sports Network, broadcasting from the sidelines during college football and basketball. This month, look for her online coverage of a little event called the Super Bowl.
You majored in political science; when did you develop an interest in sports reporting?
My grandfather was a lawyer and a judge and I thought I wanted to follow in his footsteps. Then I decided it wasn’t really for me. I’d always loved sports, and I think it encompasses so much of what humanity is about. Mile High Sports let me go on the air for the first time. I was terrible, but it was fun.
Before CBS came along, you spent a year covering the Lingerie Football League.
We would fly out and cover the game like any other sports broadcast. A lot of the players are former college athletes; one of the best players in the league is actually a lawyer and has
her own practice. There are obviously stereotypes—the uniforms and the name of the league don’t exactly help—but as I came to know them, they’re really amazing women and I think they just want to compete and play a sport they love.
You’ve been tagged as “the next Erin Andrews”—is that a compliment?
Absolutely. Regardless of people’s opinions about her, I think she’s an…I don’t know if “icon” is the right
word, but she’s definitely paved the way for a lot of modern-day female sports reporters.
Any memorable moments doing in-game entertainment in Denver?
The funniest thing was with the Avs. During one of the intermissions they were doing the Arby’s sandwich races. People dress up as the buns, and they have to jump on top of their partners to finish the sandwich. I was announcing the race, and one person came in and jumped on his partner, but somehow ricocheted off and took me out. Getting toppled by a roast beef sandwich was one of my finer moments.
Entertainment at any cost, huh?
Oh yeah. They kept replaying it on the Jumbotron. That’s definitely going on the demo reel.
5280.com Exclusive: More with Lauren Gardner
College or pro football?
College football seems more like a vehicle for coaches to help make these players better people. We got to sit down every week with the coaches, and you see how much they’re really trying to improve the kids’ lives.
You’ve spent most of your career in the action, reporting and hosting live, as opposed to being in a studio with a script.
It’s definitely a challenge, and I think that’s one of the reasons I like it. You can prepare all you want, but things can change at any given second. It’s being able to think on your feet and react to a situation and not make yourself look silly.
How does Denver stack up against other great sports towns?
I would say it’s second to none. Obviously, I’m biased, but I think it’s such a great town and people are faithful to their sports teams: They come out, they’re diehard, and they know what they’re cheering for.
Can you tell us about your experience mentoring Jessica Redfield, the aspiring sports reporter who was killed in the Aurora theater shootings?
Jessica had contacted me through a mutual friend; we got together for monthly or bimonthly breakfasts, and she was picking my brain about a few things. The thing was, I don’t think she needed my help because she was getting where she was going on her own. She was one of the most outgoing people I’ve met; she was friendly and just had this light about her.
We hear we might get to see you at the Super Bowl in New Orleans.
A couple of months ago my agent called and said, “Hey, you’re going to the Super Bowl!” I was in disbelief. We’ll be covering all of Super Bowl week for cbssports.com.