Raised in the Lone Star State, Brooke Bentley has a deep-rooted passion for sports. She recently spoke with Texas Lifestyle Magazine about how this influenced her career choices. From a childhood spent on the fields and courts to becoming a published author with Sideline Confidential, she shares with us the experiences that helped shape her remarkable path in the world of sports and storytelling.
Tell us about your life as a Texas native.
I was born and raised in Houston. As a little girl, I spent most of my time on fields or courts, playing sports. In Texas, sports are a way of life that I bought into at an early age. The Friday Night Lights culture permeates the fabric of the state’s social construct. From peewee leagues to the National Football League, Texans cheer their hearts out for their teams. I love that. I also get to see it firsthand. My husband coaches my sons’ flag football teams, and he’s a Dallas native and die-hard Cowboys fan. Football is a family affair in my house – the exhilarating wins and heartbreaking defeats – and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
How did you decide to pursue a career in sports journalism?
As a young girl, I dreamed of becoming a sports reporter. I grew up cheering for my hometown teams. I also loved to write. My high school senior yearbook predicted, “Found in 10 years: reporting on the sidelines.” After playing volleyball at Davidson College and majoring in political science, I decided to pursue my masters in journalism at the University of Southern California. That’s where I nurtured my passion for storytelling. When I got my first job in sports reporting, it felt like a dream come true. I relished the adrenalin rush of covering live games and the opportunity to share meaningful stories about the athletes on the field. But after I had children, the relentless schedule of a sports reporter stretched and tested me in ways that I never imagined. The idea for my first novel Sideline Confidential had been percolating in my subconscious for years. I ultimately left journalism so I could have more time with my family and write a novel about a young journalist embarking on a career in professional football and navigating the sexual politics along the way.
Does your novel, Sideline Confidential, reflect what you experienced as a female in sports reporting?
There are elements of my life portrayed in the book. Like Blake, I moved back to my hometown to work for a pro football team. I was the first woman to travel consistently with the team, and I had my own set of rules that I had to navigate. But Blake’s story is not my story. I talked to women who worked for other pro teams and listened to their experiences. Blake’s story is a reflection of what many women have experienced working for various pro teams.
What advice would you give girls and young women about pursuing a career in the sports world?
In Sideline Confidential, I write that anyone working in pro sports needs skin thicker than a rhinoceros to weather the adversity and criticism that will be pelted at them. The same can be said in sports journalism. You need rhino skin to survive. That’s not to say that profession should be avoided. There are incredible stories to be told in the world of sports, and women offer a unique and keen perspective in an industry that has largely been dominated by men. But sports journalism is a highly competitive industry where criticism can become more personal than professional. Think social media trolls. That’s where the rhino skin comes in. I would also advise any young women entering the industry to find a mentor. A veteran sports journalist can help you develop your talent, give you sage career advice and, most importantly, advocate on your behalf.
What comes after Sideline Confidential? Are you planning another book?
Most definitely! A lot of people have been asking me about writing a sequel to Sideline Confidential. My mind has been churning on ideas for that. I’ve also been mentally drafting a novel about the little league culture in Texas. Sports exposes so much about the human condition – good and bad. I’ve been taking notes in the stands over the last couple of years and already have plenty of material!
Cover Photo Courtesy Brooke Bentley
Kim Weiss has worked as a PR Professional for decades, most notably heading up the publicity department from 1994-2019 for the major book publisher, HCI Books, best known for launching the bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Currently, she runs Kim Weiss Publishing Services and freelances as a publicist for numerous authors. Kim is also the author of her own book, Sunrise Sunset: 52 Weeks of Awe & Gratitude (HCI – 2012). She lives with her husband John, and cats Sachi and Anabelle in Santa Fe, NM.