Toronto sports fans are a dedicated breed. Whether you're a Jay's fan, Argos fan, TFC junkie or rep #WeTheNorth everywhere you go, you probably have a soft spot for at least one Toronto sports team.
I got the opportunity to get to know one of the most notable women in Toronto's sports industry, Jackie Perez.
Jackie Perez is the in-game host for the Toronto Argonauts, and a total Girl Boss. She has made her mark in a male dominated industry, and is continuing to kick ass on and off the field.
1. Can you sum up your occupation in one paragraph?
I am currently the in-game host of the Toronto Argonauts where I get to bring energy and enthusiasm to the games with my passion for the CFL, and of course, the team. It is now my second year in a row as the in-game host and I am especially excited about this season with the new stadium, tailgate action and the Grey Cup Festival coming in November. I am also the host and reporter for InSauga.com, a show that highlights Mississauga's culture, people, food scene and more including cooking segments with local restaurants and one on one interviews with notable personalities.
2. When you were younger, did you ever imagine yourself working in the sports industry? If not, what did you want to be when you grew up?
To be able to be part of the sports industry feels right because I’ve always been surrounded by it. I grew up in a household where if we weren’t watching sports on TV, we were playing it. My older brother and I were very competitive with each other so whatever he could do I would do and aim to do it better. Baseball and basketball were staples in our house and he would challenge me not only with developing my skills on the field or on the court, but also when it came to knowing the players and the game.
3. What do you think it takes to be a successful young professional in Toronto?
Develop and nurture relationships in whatever industry you want to be in. Your peers are a great support system and mentors are a great resource because they’ve been through it before and can help guide you in your path. That being said, you really need to put in the work and stay driven.
4. What is the biggest challenge you have faced career wise thus far? And how did you overcome that?
Sometimes you won’t get the job or the opportunity that you want. Use that to stay focused on your goals and find other ways to make what you want into fruition. Sometimes it’s hard to do, but you have to be able to keep a positive attitude and roll with the punches because you never know what the next opportunity will be.
5. Up to this point, what has been your biggest accomplishment in your career?
When I share my story of transitioning from cheerleader to game day host with girls in elementary and high schools, I’m really proud to define what it means to be a cheerleader. I can show them how, in the five years I did it I was a captain for the team, the social media lead, I produced digital content for the website and now and now I’m the in-game host. Being an Argos cheerleader is how I got my foot in the door, but I’m really proud to showcase what I’ve done with my career in the industry during that time and looking forward to seeing where it goes from there.
6. How did you get your foot in the door in the sports industry?
I joined the Argos Cheerleaders in 2011 as a way to get involved and learn more about the sports industry. I knew I wanted to be in sports and my time as an Argos cheerleader allowed me to learn about the game and give an insight into the industry.
7. As a woman in the sports industry, has your gender ever made you feel like you weren’t being taken seriously?
Sometimes you hear, “wow you really do know sports” or, “oh there’s more to you than just the pom poms”. There is the stereotype that girls don’t know much about sports, but those are opportunities where you can show your skills, break the barriers and surprise people.
Photo cred -@David Lopez
8. If you had to pick a favourite Toronto sports team, not including the Argos, who would you cheer for?
I’m going to have to go with Raptors on that one (with the Blue Jays as a close second). My family are huge basketball fans and it’s nice to have grown up with the Raptors. I still remember going to the game in the franchise’s first season and asking my dad if the Raps were going to make the playoffs. He said to give it time.
9. When you’re not talking sports or on the field, where can we bump into you?
There’s a lot of really unique ice cream/gelato shops popping up around the city. So you’ll likely find me in line waiting to get my hands on a chocolate bourbon and smoke gelato, a burnt toffee ice cream sandwich or a cookie monster ice cream!
10. Where is your favourite place to unwind in the city?
By the lake! I love walking down by the waterfront just to unwind. The music garden, the boats along the water, yoga in the park- so many things to enjoy and be outside.
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