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Hannah Storm Interview: ESPN Anchor and Mom of Teens

If you watch ESPN SportsCenter, then you already know Hannah Storm, the award-winning journalist and host of Face to Face with Hannah Storm. She’s also a mom of three, runs the Hannah Storm Foundation, and produces and directs documentary films through her own company, Brainstormin’ Productions. We caught up with Storm to ask about sports, teenagers, and more.

Q: Let’s talk first about you as a mom. Did your three daughters play sports?

Storm: They all played different sports. In our household we’ve been through everything. I even wrote a book about it called, Go Girl! Raising Healthy, Confident and Successful Girls through Sports. I didn’t push my girls, but I wanted them to be physically active. My youngest plays one sport each season while my oldest is not very physically active. It was a challenge to get my less-active daughter to do a sport. In the end, she did yoga a few times a week.

Q: Were you a good sports mom?

Storm: I think I’m pretty well-educated in this area because of Go Girl! I definitely know the basics. I don’t coach my kids in the car. I don’t tell them what to do in the game. I understand how to behave at a sporting event. I love to yell and cheer encouraging things at my daughters, but I have gotten the look that says, “Be quiet now,” from my daughters.

Q: What’s the conversation in the car on the way home?

Storm: I try not to make it about whether they won or lost. I ask, “How do you think you played?” or “What do you think about the game strategy?” I’m more of an individual cheerleader. Trying to help them build their confidence.

Q: With two daughters in college, what kind of a mother were you during the admissions process?

Storm: I think it is the most unforeseen stress that you go through as a parent. People talk about partying, drugs, relationships. But nobody prepares you for the college process. And you can’t conceive of how stressful and consuming it is. Visiting schools, filling out applications, acceptance and rejection. The flat-out amount of effort to apply. It’s over the top. What it took for my girls to get into their schools took away from the joy of high school. It starts in freshman year. College shouldn’t loom over their heads all of high school.

Q: Will you be different for your youngest daughter?

Storm: I put a moratorium on speaking about college with my 10th grader. The only things we talk about are the classes she takes. We discuss what she’s interested in, and then she sets up her classes for the semester.

Q: Female public figures get a disproportionate amount of mean comments on social media. How do you handle social media haters?

Storm: Before social media, I would get an occasional piece of mail from people who were uncomfortable seeing a woman in a traditionally male field. With social media, it’s much more present. Social media can be downright mean. It’s meant to hurt. You have to have a very tough skin, and you have to filter it out and understand that it comes from a place of bigotry and spite. The haters make an effort to be mean because it takes effort to type words. I try to talk to my own daughters about not putting a lot of stock in what happens on social media.

Q: Are your daughters hurt on your behalf?

Storm: They are smart enough to not take it too seriously. I tell them that you can’t internalize what people say on social media—neither the good nor the bad. Sometimes they find it funny. If something is trending, they might make a comment. They follow their own social media a lot more than they are following mine.

Q: What’s your message to your daughters about social media?

Storm: The model is made to be addictive. Technology robs us of down time. We are all together but only half talking. There is a real level of distraction from everyday life. It takes away from homework and personal interaction. Nothing is happening at 100 percent.

Q: What technology rules do you have in your house?

Storm: No phones at the dinner table. I am relentless on that. I am an absolute stickler. If I see you start looking under the table, then you must put your phone on the table flipped over. This is one of my biggest parenting challenges.

Q: What’s one frustration with social media that you’d like to change?

Storm: For the most part, my daughters don’t love to read. When they have down time, they’ll flip through social media instead of reading. I think it is due to technology. Lack of reading to me is really sad. I think they are missing out. But I also think some of my advice here falls on deaf ears with my girls. They are going to have to learn it on their own.

Q: Rumor has it you love heavy metal.

Storm: I got that reputation because my first job was as a heavy metal DJ. My family is very into all types of music. I let my girls control the music in the car, so I know a lot of music. My three daughters are deep into alternative bands, and their taste is very diverse. One daughter wants to go into the music industry. She’s studying that at college.

Q: Did you ever monitor their music?

Storm: Not really. I would listen to their music and then chat about the lyrics with them. I wanted my daughters to be aware of misogynistic artists who don’t respect women. We had these talks starting in sixth grade. I am that way with anything they consume. I tell them, “Be smart consumers.”

Q: Did they get the message?

Storm: I think so. Sometimes I got those eye rolls. Once, when my oldest daughter was little, she said to me, “Mom, you’re such a feminist.” And I said, “Thank you.”

Q: Are you raising your kids differently than you were raised?

Storm: My parents were pretty strict. I think there were times when I could have been more so. In general, my kids are bolder and more outspoken than I was as a kid. I would have been terrified to say some of the things they say. It’s a double-edged sword—we raised them to be confident and to speak their mind.

Learn more about Storm (including her production company, Brainstormin’ Productions, and the Hannah Storm Foundation) at her website, hannahstorm.com.

Susan Borison

Susan Borison, mother of five, is the founder and editor of Your Teen Media. Because parenting teenagers is humbling and shouldn’t be tackled alone.