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Georgia defender Cecily Stoute (24) puts pressure on Tennessee forward Jaida Thomas (2) during a game on Friday, Oct. 2, 2020 at the Jack Turner Soccer Stadium in Athens, Georgia. The Bulldogs defeated the Volunteers 1-0. (Photo/Julian Alexander, jalexander@randb.com)

Aside from being a starting player on the Georgia soccer team and shutout-earning defender, junior Cecily Stoute has her sights set on graduating from the field to the studio. Stoute is a mass communications major and was recently accepted into the Sports Media Certificate Program in Grady College in the spring. She plans to pursue a career in sports broadcasting after graduation. 

“I just feel like if I can't be playing, I'm going to talk about it,” she said.

Stoute was drawn to the certificate program for its specificity and goal-oriented courses. She noted that she would have wanted to join even if she wasn’t an athlete, but her experiences with the media since becoming a Division I soccer player gave her another perspective on the profession. 

Stoute is able to see through a journalist’s lens as she answers questions in interviews after practices or games since her acceptance into Grady’s sports media program. As an athlete, she has the privilege of picking apart which questions she likes being asked, which she doesn’t and which make her comfortable or uncomfortable. She takes those mental notes and applies them to her degree.

“I would definitely say that I like how I have kind of an experience of being in front of the camera and receiving the questions rather than asking them,” Stoute said. 

Georgia soccer head coach Billy Lesesne has become one of the biggest supporters of Stoute’s career aspirations, helping to shuffle around training times when they conflict with a project and writing her letters of recommendation.

“She's put herself in a wonderful position to market herself outside of the time that she's here at UGA,” Lesesne said. “She's leveraging her academic success with her athletic success and again, I hope it opens doors for a future when she finishes up here.”

Stoute also believes that her time on the field can only make her more qualified for a career in sports media, citing athletes like Serena Williams and former Georgia volleyball and basketball player Maria Taylor. 

In February, Stoute was able to shadow Taylor as she filmed NBA Countdown in New York City. As arguably one of the most prominent and accomplished women in the field, Taylor is an inspiration to Stoute. 

She commemorated the encounter with an Instagram post of them both on set with a caption reading, “If this experience has taught me anything, it’s that I know I’m going in the right direction and I’m one step closer to my dream career.” 

Stoute found the opportunity to shadow Taylor for the weekend “eye-opening,” recalling a dinner in which Taylor and her co-hosts were taken away mid-meal by producers to shoot another important segment for the show. 

“I mean, it's Maria Taylor, so she does everything, but I didn't realize how much she actually does,” Stoute said. “So she's always working and she's just really becoming like a bigger face for ESPN.” 

Taylor has recently made numerous headlines in the sports media world as fellow male analysts made various comments about her appearance and credibility in the job as a woman. 

In September alone, Taylor was the subject of ridicule online through both her Monday Night Football on-air wardrobe choice, which one Chicago commentator compared to that of an adult film awards show host, and her ballot decisions submitted for this year’s NBA awards, which drew misogynistic comments on her credibility as a voter. 

While Stoute recognizes these as occupational hazards, noting the “boys’ club” atmosphere of the profession, she's sticking with her career choice. She understands that much of the world is still struggling to accept women as prominent and accomplished members of society, whether they are the athletes or the professionals talking about them in the media. 

“[They’re] trying to force us out, [and] I'm like, ‘You're gonna have to do a lot more to get me out of here,’” Stoute said. “I don't see myself switching to go anywhere else.”