*Disclaimer: In case you didn't catch all of Maddie's titles and roles in the header, I'm sure you'll be impressed as you continue to read on.*
Maddie Spielman, recent Ohio State grad and daughter of former NFL player and current analyst for the Fox NFL Chris Spielman and the late Stephanie Spielman, is determined to follow in her father's career footsteps and to live everyday to the fullest in memory of her mom. It's rare to come across a Columbus native or even a transfer who is not familiar with the Stephanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research, a fund the family created once Stephanie was diagnosed.
Maddie's obvious hard-work ethic and determination to help end the fight against breast cancer are already paving the way for a bright future, not only for herself but for everyone affected by this disease. Now, prepare to be inspired.
The Reference Club: Describe what you do and the path that lead you there.
Maddie Spielman: I am currently a co-host on a sports radio show through iHeart media on 105.7 The Zone. I also co-host a sports TV show twice a week on the Time Warner Sports Channel. When I'm not doing tv or radio I also work at the home offices of Bath and Body Works in the customer market insights department. It's crazy and a lot of times I feel like a chicken running with my head cut off but I am a firm believer in working hard to achieve your goals and not stopping until you find your passion.
TRC: What or who influenced this career choice?
MS: Without a doubt and maybe as cliché as it sounds, I consider my parents my biggest influence but in completely different ways. People know about my dad and his success in sports but a lot of people don't realize my mom was also in the journalism/broadcasting world before I came along. I developed my love or obsession rather for sports from my dad. He taught me what it is like not only to be a competitor but also what it means to put your team's interest above your own. For those who may not know, I lost my mom to breast cancer when I was just 15 years old. She was my best friend and I am beyond lucky to have her in my life even for the short time that I did. Before she passed away she made me promise her to never use her death as an excuse for anything but motivation for everything. The day she passed away was the day I decided to take a more active role in my family's fund. At the time, public speaking was considered one of the, if not the top, biggest fears of mine. I was always worried about what people would think of me or if I might stumble over my words. In order to keep my mom's legacy alive and continue the amazing work she started, I knew it was time for me to face my fears. Many times in life the right choice is not always the easiest one, but that's what makes it all worth while in the end. I began traveling and speaking at events on behalf of my family and that is where I realized, to my utter surprise, that I truly enjoyed being able to share our story and message in front of people. So, long story short, I am where I am today due to the love and inspiration from my amazing parents.
TRC: Piggy-backing off of that, what does it mean to you to be able to follow in your dad's footsteps, when it comes to reporting?
MS: It is an absolute honor to have someone like my dad to look up to. He is the greatest man I know and has done nothing but support me and my career. I am lucky to have him as my biggest fan. It is nice because he is almost my coach when it comes to my job. He gives me constructive criticism almost daily whether it be pointing out how many times I say the word "um" or just challenging me to be the best version of myself. I know for a fact I wouldn't be where I am today without him.
TRC: I can't have a conversation with my dad without him counting aloud every time I say "um" or "like". Too funny. Careers in the media can have nontraditional schedules. What does a typical day or week look like for you, schedule wise?
MS: I wish I could say I have a typical week in my schedule but the truth is my schedule changes by the day. I currently have three different jobs which include: iHeart Radio, Time Warner Sports Channel, and home offices of Bath and Body Works. I wakeup every day at 4:30am because our sports morning radio show on 105.7 The Zone is from 6am-9am everyday. After our show I'll either head over to tape our TV show at Time Warner Sports Channel, or straight to BBW headquarters. Some days I have to be at all three in the same day which is a lot but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.
TRC: ^Me trying to figure out how you juggle all of that...Mannequin challenge or Juju on that Beat?
MS: Juju on that Beat hands down! We all love to dance in my family. Not saying we are the best out there but that never stops us from breaking it down every now and then.
TRC: What was the transition from college to “the real world” like for you?
MS: It was a lot of change in a short amount of time. In a way the real world forces you to start all over again with new friends, new living situations, and new responsibilities. It definitely makes you grow up, what feels like almost over-night, but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. You have to work hard to achieve your dreams, no one is going to hand them to you right away on a silver platter. There is something rewarding about having to be on your own and fend for yourself. Sure, there are struggles along the way, but you learn from all of them and keep moving forward in the direction of your goals.
TRC: Tell us about the most nervous you’ve been to speak in public and how you overcame that fear?
MS: I think the most nervous I have ever been to speak would be my very first solo event for the fund. It was a Jonathon Alder Gridiron classic, and I was a senior in high school. I had decided for my senior capstone project I would travel all over the state of Ohio and speak on behalf on the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research. I remember dragging my best friend along with me to this high school football game and I must have rehearsed my 30 second speech to her 25 times in the car. When it came time for me to speak, my hands were shaking and palms beyond sweaty. It wasn't until I gazed into the group and saw the friendly smiles of encouragement from every single person that I realized I am not alone in this fight. Most people have been touched by cancer in some way, shape or form and in that moment I knew it was not only my job but my passion to fight for all of those who have been affected by this horrible disease. To this day, whenever I hear someone mention Jonathon Alder, an immediate smile forms across my face. I have never seen such a strong sense community in my life and I owe that experience for starting me off and helping me face my fears.
TRC: I think it's great that you're making a career out of what was once your biggest fear. Kudos. As mentioned, the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research is one of Central Ohio’s most recognizable funds. Can you tell us about your personal involvement with the foundation?
MS: The fund to me is my way of keeping my mom's legacy alive. No one should have to lose a person they love to cancer and it is my dream to one day live in a cancer free world. As far as my specific role goes, I continue to speak and make appearances at any of the events I am asked. I've also appeared in several radio and TV commercials promoting the fund and spreading as much awareness as possible. My absolute favorite part is having the privilege of meeting survivors and hearing their success stories. Progress is happening but it is our job to keep fighting this disease each and every day. I am motivated by my mom but I continue to fight in hopes of a day where no one has to go through what I did at such a young age.
TRC: What is your ultimate career goal?
MS: In the near future, I would love to find myself working for a professional sports team and handling their media coverage. Long term however, as much as I love sports, I would love to end up somewhere in the non-profit world. It would be an absolute dream of mine to take the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research to a national level. I believe my work and experiences I am gaining in broadcasting will help me make this dream a reality. I am lucky enough to do what I love while having fun, which a lot of people aren't able to say. I would encourage everyone to set out and find their passion in life because it just makes it that much better.
100 percent of every gift to the fund goes directly to research at Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James). For more information or to make a gift to the Stephanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research, please click here.