Edina native Jenny Taft wakes up at 3 a.m. every day and hasn’t had a weekend off in years. By 6, she’s spent an hour in hair and makeup, and by 6:10, she’s on-air. Every day.
No sweat. “I get the same rush I got playing sports when the red light goes on,” she says of her daily hosting gig on Fox Sports 1’s Skip and Shannon: Undisputed. “I must have a bit of adrenaline junkie in me. I feed off it.”
It helps that she grew up a competitor, playing hockey and lacrosse. She walked on to the Boston University lacrosse team, a dream in which she was able to pursue journalism and play sports at a school known for both. “I believed in myself as an athlete, but there was no way there was a pro journey for me after school,” she notes. “Sports reporting was always the goal.”
Her prep for the reporting world started with internships and volunteer opportunities with Fox Sports North, then freelancing at events, promos, live viewing parties and the like. “I would do as many things as I could and get my foot in the door as many places as I could,” Taft says.
The hustle paid off. Six years ago, Fox Sports 1 asked her to audition. She flew out to Los Angeles for a day and landed a spot. She applied her trademark work ethic to her new job, offering to do everything from covering Supercross motorcycle racing to hosting the Westminster dog show to build her credibility.
“I threw my name in the hat for as much as I could,” she says. “I knew very little about Supercross at the time, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me, because the Fox execs saw I could do the job.”
Then she landed the dream gig: covering Women’s World Cup soccer. Meeting Abby Wambach. Then covering them again as Megan Rapinoe became a household name. In fact, covering the women in France this summer was a “full-circle moment” for Taft, owing to her French immersion education in Edina. “My parents always told me that my French would pay off when I wanted to be doing homework in English,” she says. “They were right!” Fox got the bonus of interviews conducted in French.
Ever the utility player, Taft had filled in on Undisputed, so she was a natural fit when an opening arose. She goes off-air around 9 a.m., but for her, it’s hardly quitting time. There’s college football to report, and she could be boarding a plane a mere hour later to travel for prep and broadcasts. “I might get to take a deep breath after the Super Bowl,” she jokes. Probably not, though — it’s just too hard to say no to that red camera light.