Linda Cohn's sports career began on the ice rink as a goalie.
Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images (left), Screenshot from YouTube (right)

Linda Cohn's Trailblazing ESPN Career Began on the Ice Rink

Linda Cohn sat upright with the widest of smiles. Sitting next to co-host Chris Myers, she made her "SportsCenter" debut on July 11, 1992.

"I don't smoke, but thanks anyway," she said in response to the idea of a celebratory cigar.

Thirty years and more than 5,000 shows later, Cohn has proved herself to be a trailblazer for women in sports broadcasting. She isn't just the longest-tenured female "SportsCenter" anchor, she's the show's longest-tenured anchor. Period.

In a field historically (and still) dominated by men, Cohn was able to break through at The Worldwide Leader in Sports through perseverance and an unflinching love for sports. How she did it should serve as an inspiration to anyone in the sports broadcasting world.

Linda Cohn: From Goalie to "SportsCenter" Legend

Linda Cohn tries out for the Florida Panthers practice goalie job.

Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

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Cohn's love for all things sports began in the living room of her New York home growing up. She would watch NHL games with her father and found her way to the ice herself.

As a senior at Newfield High School, she played goalie on the boys' ice hockey team. She played on the women's ice hockey team in college, too, at SUNY at Oswego. She even once tried out for the Florida Panthers' practice goalie job.

"I was a wallflower, but playing goalie made me the center of attention. All the pressure was on me stopping that puck," Cohn told the PodSauce podcast.

It was that type of determination that transitioned well from the ice to TV. She worked as a news anchor, writer and sports reporter for New York local radio stations throughout the 1980s. In 1987, she became the first full-time female sports anchor on a national radio network when she worked at ABC.

Since her first hosting of "SportsCenter" in 1992, she's become a fixture. She celebrated her 5,000th show in 2016 and was inducted into the National Sports Media Association Hall of Fame a year later. She's one of the network's leading voices on hockey and co-hosts its only NHL podcast called "In the Crease" alongside Emily Kaplan.

It's almost impossible to think back to my childhood watching "SportsCenter" every morning with a bowl of Lucky Charms and not think of Linda Cohn. Her voice and face are etched into the memories of sports fans across the globe. I can still hear her ringing off all those "Not Top 10" plays.

And because of that the impact she's had on women is immeasurable. She just celebrated her 30th anniversary working at ESPN, and she shared stories of little girls who looked up to her on her Twitter account.

From hosting "SportsCenter" to starring in the show's iconic commercials over the years (Dame Time, anyone?), Linda Cohn will always be a sports broadcasting legend.

Yes, she may be the show's longest-tenured anchor, but to her she's just doing something she loves, as she told Barrett Sports Media.

"I remember when my wonderful boss Norby Williamson came to me several years ago around 2017," Cohn said. "He realized I had done the most SportsCenters, out of anyone, male or female. He said we're going to have a special show and celebrate your 5,000th SportsCenter. Honestly, one, I didn't count them. Second, I was just doing something I love. I know that sounds corny and cliché, but the point is, this is my job, the one I chose. My jam is hosting SportsCenter and it just turns out I've done more than anybody. I looked at it as a positive."

"Maybe some people said or thought, I don't know, maybe it's because she wasn't really sent out to do more things. Or, she wasn't able to do other assignments. I don't care what the reason was, they still were going to me. To use another sports analogy, whether I was a starter or coming off the bench, I was still there."

Hats, err helmets, off to quite the career, Linda Cohn.

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