Linda Cohn made her debut on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” on July 11, 1992, a milestone she and the network celebrated on the air recently.
Now she has added another, signing a new deal with ESPN that will take her into her fourth decade there.
“Why should I stop now?” the Newfield High School alumnus said in an interview with Newsday.
“There’s still a lot of positive out there. I don't feel like I've lost anything on my fastball. Obviously, if I did ESPN would say, ‘See ya, here’s your pension, goodbye.’ So why stop? That's how you age quickly.”
Cohn is 62 but feels like she is “going backward in time” since moving to southern California a few years ago and trying to match her fitness-conscious neighbors.
“I’ve rediscovered my amazing tennis game that I had when I was a teenager before I played hockey [as a college goalie],” she said.
Cohn and her fellow Long Islander, fellow SUNY-Oswego alum and fellow hockey aficionado Steve Levy, now are the deans of ESPN’s “SportsCenter” anchors.
Cohn enjoys the role of both mentoring and being a role model to aspiring sportscasters, especially women.
Ashley Brewer, her occasional “SportsCenter” co-anchor on ESPN’s Los Angeles set, is younger than Cohn’s 31-year-old daughter Sammy, and was seven months old when Cohen first appeared on the program.
“Even though I was working before I got to ESPN in July of 1992 [starting at WALK-AM radio in Patchogue],” Cohn said, “going on this national stage when not a lot of women were doing so and to be able to keep doing it and keep connecting to that core ESPN group that grew up with me, that's like icing on the cake for me.”
Asked what she would have said in 1992 if told she still would be at it in 2022, Cohn said, “My jaw would have dropped. I mean, I had no idea where my future was going.”
About two years into the job, ESPN executives John Walsh and Steve Anderson sat her down and said they expected her to be better by then.
Said Cohn: “They go, ‘We know you know sports. We hear you talk about it in the newsroom. You’re a sparkplug; you're a firecracker. But we want that to come out more on the air.' ”
So they hired media coach Andrea Kirby to work with her, and something clicked. “It was instant,” Cohn said. “I just needed my skills honed and then they signed me to a longer-term deal. It was really like a wakeup call two years in.”
Much like the move to California rejuvenated her personally, ESPN’s return to carrying the NHL last season rejuvenated her professionally.
Cohn is a fan of hockey in general and the Rangers in particular, and she got to be involved in various aspects of ESPN’s coverage.
“It’s totally my element,” she said. “I hope to do more in this new contract, and the feedback was great, especially from the hockey community seeing me out there.”
Cohn said she did not put much thought into her recent anniversary, but what hit home was the feedback she got from others, including those whose careers she impacted.
“Sometimes you don't realize that when you're just doing a job you love and, in my case, talking sports,” she said. “It's really not that bad to get paid for that, because I'm watching sports anyway.
“This just in: I really like to do that. It's one of my great hobbies.”