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Daily Inspiration: Meet Jael Rucker

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jael Rucker. 

Hi Jael, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
My journey has been just that—a journey. Nothing about it has been “traditional” in any sense of the word. I played sports growing up, and my freshman year in high school I walked away and decided to try my hands at journalism. I did the sports segment of our morning announcements, covered games, and did some sports write-ups for our school paper. I was a part of my high school DECA chapter where we regularly attended in marketing competitions and had to pitch business proposals pretty much on the spot. During that time, I also started acting and was part of our drama program. My sports schedule meant that I couldn’t really commit to our plays/shows, so I would help write the plays and some of our original songs. Once I graduated, I went through that period of not knowing for sure who I was or what I wanted, so I decided to try acting full force. I was taking classes, doing some indie work, and eventually got an agent. Long story short, I was dropped a year later, and I began really thinking about what I wanted. My love of sports never left me, and I started covering local sporting events. I joined ESPNU’s campus connection program and hustled for a year, and was able to get a writing internship with my mentor. Fate eventually led me to Georgia State where I became their basketball and football sideline reporter for ESPN3/ESPN+, and my writing led me to ONE37pm where I cover sports, entertainment, and even business sometimes—all of the things I used to do in high school. All of my experiences have come full circle. 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
No, it hasn’t always been a smooth road. Like everyone, I’ve experienced plenty of rejection and setbacks. Times where I wondered if this was for me. My biggest obstacle by far was losing my father in August 2019. Losing a loved one can have an impact on you, and since he was my first sports coach and the first person to really encourage me to give sports reporting a shot, I questioned if it was worth it to stay in this business. Those were a tough few months and I considered walking away. Ultimately, I stuck with it because it was my dream, and I knew he would have wanted me to keep going. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am a writer/interviewer that specializes in sports, entertainment, and a lot of things in between. I think what I am most proud of is that fact that I’ve stuck through this despite the struggles this industry (and even life) can sometimes present. I’m proud of the journey and the grind. Sometimes you experience certain things and you may not understand why you’re doing or why it’s happening at the time, but you understand later. That is what is happening with me right now. Playing sports as a kid/teen laid the groundwork for everything. I played basketball and softball and took tennis lessons early on. Playing and watching gave me the knowledge to eventually report. Writing for the school paper and doing their morning segments gave me that initial experience in both areas. Being a part of DECA and doing those marketing competitions taught me how to write in a different way and make presentations. It also taught me how to pitch something you really believe in. Acting, working on sets, and writing scripts unleashed my creative artsy side. I now bring that to my writing pieces and it allows me to connect with the people in film/television that I interview in terms of conversation and how I structure those pieces. All of those things have come together and even intermixed, and I’m excited to see how my future experiences can shape what I do. I recently covered a series of breaking (breakdancing) events for Red Bull through ONE37 and walked away with a new understanding of the sport. Breaking will be introduced as an Olympic Sport in 2024, and everybody is training very hard. That was dope! 

What’s next?
Hopefully continued growth in all areas of my life. That is what I hope for the most. I’m not really a “planning” person. Obviously, there are certain things you have to approach with a plan because it would be unwise not to, but at the same time I understand that what is meant to be is meant to be, and what is not is not—sometimes you have to go where life takes you. 

Contact Info:

Image Credits
David Westbrooks
ONE37pm
Georgia State University

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