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Sometimes You Have to Cross When It Says 'Don't Walk': A Memoir of Breaking Barriers

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Lesley Visser is living proof that, no matter where you start, if you are motivated and passionate, your dreams can come true. When Lesley was 11, she told her mother that she wanted to be a sportswriter. The job didn’t exist for women in 1964, but her mother—instead of suggesting she become a teacher or a nurse—replied, "Great! Sometimes you have to cross when it says, 'Do Lesley Visser is living proof that, no matter where you start, if you are motivated and passionate, your dreams can come true. When Lesley was 11, she told her mother that she wanted to be a sportswriter. The job didn’t exist for women in 1964, but her mother—instead of suggesting she become a teacher or a nurse—replied, "Great! Sometimes you have to cross when it says, 'Don’t walk.'" That answer changed Lesley’s life. Even though no one had done it before, it gave her the strength and self-confidence to try—permission to cross against the light. When Lesley began, the credentials said, "No Women or Children in the Press Box," but she didn’t let that stop her. Lesley covered sports for more than 40 years, pioneering women’s journalistic presence in men’s professional sports, from inside the locker room to out on the field. She’s the first and only woman to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and to ever present the Vince Lombardi Trophy at the Super Bowl. And she’s the only sportscaster in history to have worked on the network broadcasts of the Final Four, Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, Triple Crown, Olympics, U.S. Open, and the World Figure Skating Championship. Lesley currently appears on CBS’s "We Need to Talk," the first-ever nationally televised all-female weekly hour-long sports show. Lesley’s had her share of hurdles and stumbles. But with passion, perseverance, and dedication, she found a way to achieve her dream, learning valuable lessons along the way. (Hint: Humor goes further than anger, and no, we can’t all look like Beyoncé.) In Sometimes You Have to Cross When It Says 'Don't Walk,' Lesley Visser shares her historic journey through the world of sports broadcasting with innate wisdom and good humor. For sports fans who grew up with Lesley, her memoir reads like a walk down memory lane, full of behind-the-camera, VIP-access stories involving John Madden, Jerry Jones, Bill Belichick, Joe Torre, and many more famous sports figures. But even those hearing her story for the first time, no matter what their background, will be inspired to chase their dreams, blaze new trails, and pursue the life they want.


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Lesley Visser is living proof that, no matter where you start, if you are motivated and passionate, your dreams can come true. When Lesley was 11, she told her mother that she wanted to be a sportswriter. The job didn’t exist for women in 1964, but her mother—instead of suggesting she become a teacher or a nurse—replied, "Great! Sometimes you have to cross when it says, 'Do Lesley Visser is living proof that, no matter where you start, if you are motivated and passionate, your dreams can come true. When Lesley was 11, she told her mother that she wanted to be a sportswriter. The job didn’t exist for women in 1964, but her mother—instead of suggesting she become a teacher or a nurse—replied, "Great! Sometimes you have to cross when it says, 'Don’t walk.'" That answer changed Lesley’s life. Even though no one had done it before, it gave her the strength and self-confidence to try—permission to cross against the light. When Lesley began, the credentials said, "No Women or Children in the Press Box," but she didn’t let that stop her. Lesley covered sports for more than 40 years, pioneering women’s journalistic presence in men’s professional sports, from inside the locker room to out on the field. She’s the first and only woman to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and to ever present the Vince Lombardi Trophy at the Super Bowl. And she’s the only sportscaster in history to have worked on the network broadcasts of the Final Four, Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, Triple Crown, Olympics, U.S. Open, and the World Figure Skating Championship. Lesley currently appears on CBS’s "We Need to Talk," the first-ever nationally televised all-female weekly hour-long sports show. Lesley’s had her share of hurdles and stumbles. But with passion, perseverance, and dedication, she found a way to achieve her dream, learning valuable lessons along the way. (Hint: Humor goes further than anger, and no, we can’t all look like Beyoncé.) In Sometimes You Have to Cross When It Says 'Don't Walk,' Lesley Visser shares her historic journey through the world of sports broadcasting with innate wisdom and good humor. For sports fans who grew up with Lesley, her memoir reads like a walk down memory lane, full of behind-the-camera, VIP-access stories involving John Madden, Jerry Jones, Bill Belichick, Joe Torre, and many more famous sports figures. But even those hearing her story for the first time, no matter what their background, will be inspired to chase their dreams, blaze new trails, and pursue the life they want.

30 review for Sometimes You Have to Cross When It Says 'Don't Walk': A Memoir of Breaking Barriers

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brina

    As a kid I fantasized about being the Chicago Cubs announcer when I grew up. Easy I thought to myself, because I love the Cubs and watch every game so, of course, I would be knowledgeable enough to get hired as a play by play voice of the team that I love. My day dreams were just that, and, growing up in the 1980s, unfortunately, not too realistic. Lesley Visser harbored similar dreams, and at age ten, her mother told that Sometimes It's Ok to Walk When it Says Don't Cross, a saying that stuck w As a kid I fantasized about being the Chicago Cubs announcer when I grew up. Easy I thought to myself, because I love the Cubs and watch every game so, of course, I would be knowledgeable enough to get hired as a play by play voice of the team that I love. My day dreams were just that, and, growing up in the 1980s, unfortunately, not too realistic. Lesley Visser harbored similar dreams, and at age ten, her mother told that Sometimes It's Ok to Walk When it Says Don't Cross, a saying that stuck with her and became the basis of her memoir. Lesley Visser was one of the few female announcers that I remember seeing on television when I was a kid, so when I found about her new memoir, naturally, from a television interview, I knew that it would be a must read for me. As in her pioneering career, Lesley did not disappoint. Lesley Visser grew up during a crossroads time for women in American history. At the time women could expect to be housewives or teachers, nurses, or secretaries; doors had not been open to them yet in other arenas. Yet, Lesley grew up listening to Curt Gowdy, Sr call Boston Red Sox games on the radio and knew from the time she was ten years old that she wanted to be a sports reporter. Betty Friedan had just published The Feminine Mystique and it caught the attention of Lesley's mother, a longtime school teacher. When ten year old Lesley told her mother of her dream, the response was "sometimes it's ok to walk when it says don't cross." In other words, go for it. I heard Lesley give over this anecdote in a television interview with Molly McGrath, who became a beneficiary of Visser paving the way. McGrath is a solid reporter, and, upon hearing these words, nearly broke down on the air. I did likewise, as years later, Visser has lived the life that most of us could only dream of, and all because her mother could foreshadow that doors were beginning to open for women in all areas of society. Lesley Visser chose Boston College for her journalism training and joined the newspaper staff under Mike Lupica, who later went on to become a top reporter in his own right. Relegated to token assignments, Lesley accepted them with grace and dignity, catapulting her to a job with the legendary Boston Globe sports department team. In the 1970s, most Americans still relied on newspaper as their number one source for news, and the Globe was one of the papers in the business. Yet, as a woman, Visser faced obstacles such as no women allowed in locker rooms and no women's bathrooms available to the media. Her boss at the Globe would only allow her to travel on the company's account if her hair looked flattering. Despite the passage of Title IX in 1974 which was meant to bring equality to women on the playing field, this did not translate to the field of sports journalism at first. In 1976, Visser received her first break covering the Boston Lobsters professional tennis team. She was allowed in the locker room and gained access to interviewing the team's stars including the newly defected Martina Navratilova. Television networks began to take notice of this rising reporting star. Equality in journalism was still years away even though Billie Jean King did her part against Bobby Riggs in the tennis Battle of the Sexes. Today Visser can call King a life long friend. She can also list among her friends legendary coaches in many sports as well as a who's who of sports reporters around the nation. Hired by CBS as a sideline reporter for NFL games, Visser has enjoyed her share of firsts as in first woman to broadcast an NFL game on television and radio. When she first started, the no locker room rule was in place, and Visser had to wait for stars in the parking lot and many times was disregarded as a broad or simply as a woman in a man's profession. Yet, Visser persevered to report at the Kentucky Derby, NCAA Final Fours, Monday Night Football, and Super Bowls, becoming the first woman to present the Lombardi Trophy to a winning coach. In 2006, she became the first woman to be enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame as a journalist, which is a long way from a future as teacher, nurse, or secretary. Visser's memoir is full of anecdotes about life as a journalist and offers words of wisdom to younger generations of women looking to go into sports reporting as a career. In this day of social media, anyone can author a quote about sports or athletes, even myself, yet there still remains credibility to reporting live from the sidelines. Visser paved the way for women when Title IX was new, and doors were not yet open to women in all facets of society. She thanks her mother for inspiring her to follow her dream and lists hundreds of people in her acknowledgments. This memoir has been an eye opening account, and I look forward to seeing Lesley Visser at the NCAA Final Four next month. 4 trailblazing stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lance

    Sometimes it is refreshing to read about a person who not only was a pioneer in his or her field, but also genuinely enjoys the work and fame that comes with it. That is the impression a reader will get while reading this memoir by Lesley Visser, a pioneer in women's sports writing and broadcasting. Born and raised in Massachusettes, Visser knew early in her life that she was going to have a career in sports. She was a big fan as a child, kept on following teams while in college when she majored Sometimes it is refreshing to read about a person who not only was a pioneer in his or her field, but also genuinely enjoys the work and fame that comes with it. That is the impression a reader will get while reading this memoir by Lesley Visser, a pioneer in women's sports writing and broadcasting. Born and raised in Massachusettes, Visser knew early in her life that she was going to have a career in sports. She was a big fan as a child, kept on following teams while in college when she majored in journalism and landed a job with the Boston Globe covering high school sports. From there, her career blossomed into one where no matter what sport a fan enjoys, chances are that fan has seen Visser cover it at some point. She shares many stories about many fellow journalists in both print and television. One of the best is one that is well-known. She was provided a press pass for one of the most exciting baseball games in the history of the game - game 6 of the 1975 World Series. It was there that the young writer met Dick Stockton, who was broadcasting the game that night for NBC and he asked her to dinner. From that start, they became husband and wife. But that is far from the only great story Visser shares about her career. Whether she talks about her times with coaches (her favorites are all college basketball coaches - Jim Valvano, Rick Majerus and Rick Pitino), with other players or the many big events she has covered, she tells them with the enthusiasm of a fan but also with the professional demeanor of the award winning broadcaster that she is. Visser also talks with pride about the many firsts she accomplished as a woman in sports broadcasting, the most notable being the first woman to be enshrine into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006. Though all of this, she refers back to the talks she had with her mother. Visser credits her mother with giving her the resolve to pursue a career in a male-dominated industry, with the quote that is the title of the book serving as one Visser remembers for her entire life. This is a fun and easy reading memoir that sports fans of all ages, genders and sports preferences will enjoy. Visser's story is a remarkable one of breaking many glass ceilings and one that young women will especially want to read in order to be inspired to continue pursuing their own goals and dreams. I wish to thank BenBella Books for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. http://sportsbookguy.blogspot.com/201...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Neil

    I received a free copy via Netgalley in exchange for a honest review. This is an interesting Biography. Unfortunately due to a lot of the stories being based in the US I did not know the sports men / women. It was still worth a read though.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tom Gase

    I really wanted to enjoy this book a little more because Lesley Visser is SUCH AN IMPORTANT PERSON IN JOURNALISM. But this book kind of just went all over the place and although it had a few very inspiring moments, it just seemed like a throwing out names list. In that I mean, she seemed to list all the great people she has worked with or interviewed, etc. But I guess I was hoping to read more on how she broke barriers and broke down doors for more women to become great journalists. Some of the I really wanted to enjoy this book a little more because Lesley Visser is SUCH AN IMPORTANT PERSON IN JOURNALISM. But this book kind of just went all over the place and although it had a few very inspiring moments, it just seemed like a throwing out names list. In that I mean, she seemed to list all the great people she has worked with or interviewed, etc. But I guess I was hoping to read more on how she broke barriers and broke down doors for more women to become great journalists. Some of the best journalists I've ever worked with are women. So I guess I wanted to know about how she became a pioneer. Maybe that's another book down the road written by someone else. This seemed to be too short and full of too many pictures. I still respect the hell out of Visser, but this book is just average. Thankfully her reporting was 10 times above average over the years. A very quick read, people should still read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    I am not at all a sports fan, but I quite enjoyed this memoir by acclaimed sportscaster Lesley Visser who, when she started out in the field of sports journalism, a pioneer for women entering what used to be (and still is in some respects), a male dominated profession. Whilst I was not familiar with the names of most of the people the author writes about, it was and interesting and inspirational look into an interesting professional life. I won a copy of this book from the publisher as part of t I am not at all a sports fan, but I quite enjoyed this memoir by acclaimed sportscaster Lesley Visser who, when she started out in the field of sports journalism, a pioneer for women entering what used to be (and still is in some respects), a male dominated profession. Whilst I was not familiar with the names of most of the people the author writes about, it was and interesting and inspirational look into an interesting professional life. I won a copy of this book from the publisher as part of the Goodreads giveaways program.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I have mixed feelings about this book and wish I had liked it more. I have followed Lesley Visser throughout her impressive career and for that she earned a third star. The book is a long list of what she has done. The best parts are when she writes vignettes about her experiences. But it was too stream of consciousness and 'listy' for me. I have mixed feelings about this book and wish I had liked it more. I have followed Lesley Visser throughout her impressive career and for that she earned a third star. The book is a long list of what she has done. The best parts are when she writes vignettes about her experiences. But it was too stream of consciousness and 'listy' for me.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Peter Mammoser

    Interesting A little random and all of the place with the stories but a really interesting story. Great read for any sports fan.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

    Unfortunately I kept comparing this to the Amy Trask NFL book which was such a fun read full of behind the scenes nuggets.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jami

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chris Koeth

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jas

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lisabeth

    Thanks to Netgalley, the publisher. and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book. Sometimes it is refreshing to read about a person who not only was a pioneer in his or her field but also genuinely enjoys the work and fame that comes with it. That is the impression a reader will get while reading this memoir by Lesley Visser, a pioneer in women's sports writing and broadcasting. Thanks to Netgalley, the publisher. and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book. Sometimes it is refreshing to read about a person who not only was a pioneer in his or her field but also genuinely enjoys the work and fame that comes with it. That is the impression a reader will get while reading this memoir by Lesley Visser, a pioneer in women's sports writing and broadcasting.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cris Hayes

  14. 4 out of 5

    Raymond

  15. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mark Goodrich

  17. 5 out of 5

    Samm Mammoser

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alisha

  20. 4 out of 5

    Caren Ramon

  21. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Pravata

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tammy Wiederhold

  24. 4 out of 5

    Shawn Rininger

  25. 5 out of 5

    Joanne Lannin

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alexa Hines

  27. 5 out of 5

    Craig

  28. 5 out of 5

    LARRY B OLSON

  29. 5 out of 5

    Piper Hansen

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joe DeMaio

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