What’s the Word? Spotlighting Olivia Harlan

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What’s the Word? Spotlighting Olivia Harlan

Olivia Harlan
Olivia Harlan

Olivia Harlan has my dream job! She is a sports broadcaster and has been since college. She has accomplished many things throughout her career, and it all began here, at the University of Georgia.

Olivia is a Kansas City native but came to Athens to attend the University of Georgia.
She applied to fifteen different schools and narrowed it down to Syracuse and Georgia. When decision time came, she chose Georgia. She realized how special Athens was, and it took her by surprise. She knew she could succeed here, and our journalism school could turn her into the broadcaster she wanted to be. Olivia also knew that she wanted to go into sports, and Georgia was an athletic program that had major potential. During her time, the Dawgs went to two Southeastern Conference Championships, so overall she chose right! Olivia finished up college in 2014 a semester early, and in those last few months as a student had an interview with FOX Sports South. The interview began to wrap up and immediately, the executive producer offered her a sideline job with the Packers, a role for some of the college football games they covered, and a studio show that she would be a part of once a week. She basically walked into this interview with no job and came out with three. Olivia had one predicament that she didn’t address until she was walking out.
As she tells it, “I told my new boss, I still have a few months left in college. The producer, Randy Stephens said ‘we assumed you were finished [with college], will that be a problem?’ And I said, ‘Nope.'”
For Olivia, this was a difficult decision because she knew the commute was going to be strenuous if she stayed in school, but she powered through and graduated that December. There were days when she would go to class, leave directly from there, travel to Atlanta, cover a game, and then travel back home that night for the next day of school. Olivia currently works for FOX Sports as the Atlanta Hawks sideline reporter and ESPN picked her up the fall after she graduated and she is now entering her third season reporting for ESPN college football.
Olivia’s grandfather, Bob Harlan, is the former Green Bay Packers President and CEO and her father, Kevin Harlan, is a notable NBA, NFL and college broadcaster for CBS and TNT. Her father always encouraged her and her three siblings to stay away from his announcing lifestyle. With her dad always being on the road for work, Olivia’s mom took care of the four kids. Her dad and Olivia regard her as “super mom” because of all she did to raise them.
Olivia knew how much of a time commitment this career was and acknowledged it here, “It’s [the job] pretty tough on you as a person, it is really fun if you love the work, which I do, but you miss almost every holiday.” On Christmas there is NBA, Thanksgiving there is football, New Year’s there is NBA, and I’ve had football games on New Years too. You’re just really tied up,” she added.
Like me, Olivia has always wanted to do this since she was ten or eleven. Once her dad realized she was not backing down from this career, he has been so helpful and is a strong supporter of her ambitions. She has listened to her father throughout this entire process and has always been open for pointers. Many people just assume that Olivia was born into the business and had an easy way of getting into broadcasting because her father and grandfather paved the road for her, but she and I both believe that it takes skill to succeed. She sums it up by saying that there is no such thing as someone getting you a job and you doing nothing. She is the one that put in the blood, sweat, and tears to get where she is today. All in all, both her father and grandfather have kept her mentally prepared for the road ahead.
UGA’s Grady School of Journalism was a strong factor in her decision to attend Georgia. Olivia indicated that Grady developed kids like no other school. Although the journalism program was a powerful component in Olivia’s decision, the true thing that brought her to UGA was Georgiadogs.com. When she came to visit here her senior year of high school, she scheduled an interview with the website Georgiadogs.com, which is through IMG.
She told the program, “I don’t want to sit in a class and learn about my major. I want to have my hands on a camera. I want to be out there at football practice, cutting highlights, editing the highlights, and I want to learn about the software I would use.”
She wanted to be doing something hands-on right off the bat. Well, when she arrived in August, they put her to work and did that for the next three and a half years. This gig was unpaid until her last semester of college, and she worked hard to get the job done right. She truly attacked the day!
Olivia recently got engaged to NBA player, Sam Dekker. He just signed with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Olivia pronounced, “First and foremost, I am a Sam fan and whichever team he is on, and I want that team to win the Championship every year.”
She also said she has all the faith in the world in her fiance and that he will definitely have a ring before he retires. Olivia’s heart is with the Hawks too. She said the ideal Clippers-Hawks matchup would be for Sam to score thirty but the Hawks still win.
She loves to sing! She is an amazing singer from what I’ve heard on her Instagram. Jazz is her favorite to sing, but she also does a little bit of country. Now, this next tidbit I’m about to tell y’all is so cool to me. Olivia told me that there is a possibility that she will sing the national anthem at one of her soon-to-be husband’s games. Super awesome!
Olivia attended a few games last season including Tech [“still sour about that one”] and Nicholls State game [“a win, not the prettiest”]. According to her, last season was a “getting comfortable season.” She believes that it might take a year or two for everything to gel. Overall her thoughts are that Coach Smart is great for the future of the Dawgs and it is such a wonderful experience for an alumnus to coach his alma mater.
You can listen to my full interview with Olivia Harlan on our SoundCloud channel, BD Illustrated ON AIR:



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