A SPORTS JUNKY: Jones’ love for sports had driven her career from the basketball courts of Florida State University to the hallowed halls of Dodger Stadium. She looks onward and outward for more opportunities to be involved with sports and she relishes in her current position as Pre-Game Host for Dodger Stadium. (photo: Troy Tieuel)
New Reporter bridges the gap between the fans and VIPs at Dodger Stadium
When Magic Johnson bought 4 percent of the Los Angeles Dodger’s franchise and became the leader of the new ownership group, few expected much change. But change there was. One of Johnson and Guggenheim Baseball’s goals was to bring more members of the black community into Dodger Stadium by making the Dodgers organization and baseball more interesting to them. Going beyond mere stadium
renovations, Johnson and his team have reached out to the community and invited the people back into Dodger Stadium to witness a new and improved baseball experience.
As part of that experience, Dodger fans in attendance will be witness to a first in Dodger history, in the form of ‘Pre-Game Host’ Courtney Jones. What’s truly unique about Jones’ job is that she and her team reach out to the everyday fans that come early to the games and interact and talk with them.
“Our interviews are not only for dodgers.com, but also broadcasted throughout the stadium so the fans can hear the interview,” Jones explained. “Fans like to see the different celebrities coming to Dodger Stadium, throwing out the first pitch or
singing the national anthem. As a host, we have creative control of our interviews and features. A lot of it is welcoming celebrities to Dodger Stadium and keeping the fans updated on upcoming promotions, giveaways and events.”
An African-American woman of petite stature, Jones has no problem standing up to face the greats that frequent the historic stadium. Dealing with everything from the common fan, current players, sports greats and celebrities, Jones stands tall, even verses the tallest NBA players.
For Jones is not coming from left field in respect to broadcast journalism. Growing up in Florida, she earned a communications degree from Florida State University and minored in broadcast journalism at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida.
She’s no rookie to sports, either. Jones began her broadcast career as a sideline reporter for an indoor arena football team in college. She went on to be an on court host for the Seminole Basketball team. “I’ve always had a love for journalism,” said Jones in a candid interview in the executive halls of Dodger Stadium, “I’ve always had a passion for telling stories about sports figures beyond the field or beyond the court. That’s always been something that I loved to do. I got the opportunity to do that while I was in college.”
After college, Jones started her career in Atlanta, Georgia at Fox Sports South then moved to the west coast and began work with Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket covering high school football and basketball in Southern California before eventually moving up to college sports at schools such as UCLA and eventually professional sports teams such as the Los Angeles Clippers and the Dodgers.
“Last year I worked for Prime Ticket covering the Dodgers,” explained Jones, “and I got to travel with the team. So I built great relationships with the new management and the marketing and broadcast department with the Dodgers. [The Dodgers Organization] decided that they wanted to create a new position. A new pregame host position, and so, they reached out to me and said, “We think you’d be a good fit for this.” I enthusiastically accepted.”
To Jones, the highlights of the job are exactly what a true sports fan would expect, the celebrities and legendary players that she gets to interview. “Recently we had Jackie Robinson Day, and all of the previous, incredibly gifted athletes came here. Don Newcombe was here. Sharon Robinson, Jackie Robinson’s daughter was here, so I got the chance to interview her. Jackie’s wife was here, Rachel Robinson. So that was really a highlight so far this season. I interviewed Chris Paul, who threw out the first pitch. That was fun.”
“Every day is very different,” continued Jones, “because what we get to do is interact with the fans and talk to them about what’s going on. The Dodgers do a lot with their fans and they want to give away a lot of things. [The Dodgers] have ten bobble-heads coming out this season. We get to talk to the different athletes and they get to see their bobble-heads and talk to the fans because they love to collect those. The dodgers really want their fans to be entertained, engaged even before the game starts. So that’s what this position is hopefully doing.”
Jones, who is interested in many sports, including football and basketball, sees baseball as a merger between sports and entertainment.
“This is uncharted waters for the Dodgers,” explained Jones, “because what they are doing is trying to create this atmosphere, this entertainment value that is so great. The Dodgers are very big on tradition. I get to work with and learn from incredible broadcasters like Vin Scully, Charley Steiner and Jaime Jarrin.”
The Dodgers’ season lasts until, October 2013, when the post-season begins. For more information on Courtney Jones, giveaways at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers players, to purchase tickets or see the team schedule, go to www.dodgers.com.