Jan. 31, 2014
This week we sat down with Tiffany Greene, play-by-play specialist for FOX Sports. Greene talks to us about her years as a collegiate bowler, her background as a car salesman, and the influence her father had on her as a broadcaster. Greene is slated to call 14 BIG EAST women’s basketball games this season, including Saturday’s Xavier-Butler game as well as the BIG EAST Tournament in March.
Give us a little insight into your background.
I grew up in Tampa, Fla., always was a tomboy and loved sports. You name it, I was into it. Football has always been my favorite probably because I wasn’t allowed to play it. I was that kid who wanted to be a little rebellious. Loved football, basketball, baseball, track. I was involved in a lot of stuff growing up. My mom always reminds of this story: I was playing with the Pepsi Uh-Huhs softball team and all of a sudden I was really disinterested in it because I saw people playing basketball. I would come home from practices and not have anything good to report, and it was because I was always distracted by those on the basketball court. I was drawn to it like a magnet.
My softball career was short lived. From that point on, I was probably eight or nine years old, I have been with basketball ever since. I played in high school, varsity shooting guard all four years, and really wanted to go to college to play. The WNBA had just come about, there was an opportunity for women to play professionally in the states, and my folks told me no, that I needed to focus on my studies. So in turn, I got a bowling scholarship.
You bowled in college – what kind of bowler were you?
What led you to being a broadcaster?
I grew up bowling in a league when I was younger, that’s what we did on Saturdays. I did it in a league for probably three years and beyond that just recreationally. In college I was a middle of the road bowler, averaging 170 or 180, I was in the middle of the lineup. I think of it as a role player. I was a good role player.
I’ve always wanted to do it, literally since I was in kindergarten. I look back on my yearbook in kindergarten and it asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and I wrote out “sportscaster”. I have always admired Robin Roberts, but my influence always was my father. I grew up in a household where my dad was the first African-American anchor and reporter in both Tallahassee and Tampa. I’m a daddy’s girl and I loved what he did and in addition I loved sports, so it worked. He has always pushed me to get out there and get interviews, write my opinions and send them to the paper.
What was your first job in broadcasting?
I did a lot of internships. I don’t know if it makes for a good story, but I also always wanted to be car salesperson too. So between the time I graduated and was waiting for a TV station to start up in Tampa, I thought for about a month and a half that I would go sell cars. I sold Dodge Rams, HEMIs, and was pretty successful at it. But the one I always claim as my first job was I was a part-time production assistant at WB38 and got a chance to do everything. I was hungry to get in front of the camera, but you don’t start out in market number 13 of 14 out of college in front of the camera. I did the grunt work and paid my dues and was happy to do so and prepared to do so because I learned that from playing sports. You work hard, you put in the time and effort and show dedication and over time good results can happen. You will hopefully achieve the goals you’ve set out for yourself.
Take us through a typical game day.
The morning before a game I usually wake up about 2-3 hours prior to shoot around because I would have spent the whole night studying, cramming, doing last-minute prep work, and then I’ll get up and do game boards, read over my notes again, then head to shoot around and talk to the coaches. The great thing about the BIG EAST so far is that we can talk to the coaches, they’re accessible, which has made our jobs a lot easier, so I tip my hat to the coaches. I understand there are a lot of games they play and a lot of moving parts, so I’m thankful for that.
Once we get to practice, since this is the first time I’m seeing a lot of the teams, I’m trying to work on player recognition. I’m looking at every person, looking at the TV roster sheet, and do player recognition. By the time I go back, there isn’t much time in between so pick up a quick snack, maybe a power nap, then back out to the arena two hours before game time. Meet with the producer and go over the show, the graphics, the storylines for the game. Have a conversation with my color analyst. Then I have to quote a Jay Z song or line, and then it’s game time.
What team and/or player has been most exciting for you to see so far this season?
Let’s see, I really enjoy DePaul because they really get up and down. They have been exciting to watch. I like Natalie Butler of Georgetown, but I saw her in her first game of the year, so she’s coming along and watching her develop is exciting. But DePaul really helps you get your chops in order just to keep up with them.
What has been your favorite moment of the season so far?
I don’t know if I can share it because it was on the men’s side! This was an opportunity of lifetime, it’s what you dream of. Calling college basketball, BIG EAST basketball, and LaChina (Robinson) and I go out to Providence for the New Year’s Eve game and you know, your eyes are wide open, you’re excited to be there and you want to put your best foot forward and boom, you get a double-overtime game, are you kidding me?! I couldn’t have written it any better! That was a big highlight. It was one I’ll never forget. Two women calling a men’s basketball game, on New Year’s Eve, on prime time! It’s something you dream about, and say, “I would love for that to happen, wouldn’t that be cool?” and then to have it come to fruition? Oh my, huge blessing. I can’t recall a time that would top that. I’ve been to Super Bowls and covered NBA Finals, that’s cool, but to have your voice help carry a game, man, nothing like it.
On the women’s side, I really enjoyed the DePaul-Creighton game as well. McKenzie Fujan has the game of her life and this is preseason one and two; that was a great game as well.
Any favorite historical calls?
I love Gus Johnson’s “Rise and fire!” I love that, I’ve used it in my games. John Madden was awesome, Harry Caray, they were characters and personalities, and analysts too. I loved them because I felt like I knew them. When I listen to Gus I’m excited. I love watching him do March Madness.
What do you do when you’re not on camera?
I like to travel a lot. I know this will sound really whack, but I really like the Bahamas and just love being with my family, wherever they are, there I am also. They’re everywhere, Minnesota, New York, DC and California.