GladiatHers® Spotlight: Tracy Sandler – Founder & CEO, Fangirl Sports Network

GladiatHers® is an organization dedicated to inspiring, connecting and empowering women, especially women in sports. In an effort to fulfill our mission, we’ve started a new series that highlights the everyday stories of women who are making their mark in the world and the sports industry. Welcome to the GladiatHers® Spotlight, the series where you get to meet and connect with amazing women in sports. Meet Tracy Sandler, Founder & CEO of Fangirl Sports Network.

Where did Fangirl Sports Network
(FGSN) begin?

I’ve been a sports fan since I was a little girl and became a huge Lakers and San Francisco 49ers fan as a kid. I fell in love with Joe Montana and I grew up going to games. I got to be around sports and just naturally loved it because it brings people together.

I went to the
University of Michigan and I wrote about sports for the Michigan Daily.  The summer after my freshman year, I interned
at Fox Sports in Los Angeles where I worked at the MLB on Fox. After college I worked
at Fox sports with the broadcasters on things like highlights and really
anything that was needed. I took a little bit of a break from sports to start
my own personal shopping company, and then I worked in politics and
philanthropy.

For the fun of it
I started a blog called The Trials and Tribulations of My Love/Hate
Relationship with the San Francisco 49ers
and people started reading it. I
would engage with people and fans and those that covered the team. Then I
thought, you know what, this is what I want to do. That’s when I changed the
name at the time to 49ers Fangirl and 2015 was my first season doing that. Then
in 2016 it became FGSN and I added Rams fan girl and we grew from there.
I created Fangirl Sports Network as a
place for female sports fans to follow their favorite teams with content and
coverage that speaks directly to females.  We now have 32 NFL and 15 NBA Fangirls.

Why was it as necessary to create a space
for female sports fans?

I felt like there wasn’t really content
that spoke to women. I’ve been a lifelong fan, but I’ve always also been very
feminine and I think both can go hand in hand. 
I think there’s been this idea that maybe they do not. So I wanted to
create a space and essentially a community around female fans where they could
go to find content that was interesting for them and maybe looked a little bit
more at the lifestyle part of sports and the story behind the story. That is
how Five Fun Facts was born. I created it as a way to help fans learn about their
favorite players’ lives off the field. Analysis is analysis, what happens in a
game happens in a game. There’s not necessarily a male perspective versus
female perspective, but I think women also really enjoy the lifestyle aspect of
sports and the community part of sports that brings people together and that’s
what I wanted to create.

You’ve been able
to significantly grow a woman’s centered business in a male-driven industry. W
hat sort of setbacks have you experienced and how were you
able to really manage and navigate them?

I think as far as setbacks go, I look
at them more as challenges. It’s a lot to manage to go from 1 team to 62, so
it’s finding that ability to manage everything. I have an incredible team that
works with me. There’s a challenge even in that because this is my baby and I
can’t do everything. There’s a reason I have a team. Being able to be a little
more hands off and delegate and trust that things are going to get done I think
is a challenge in itself.

I think the other challenge is that I
do see myself as a mentor to the fan girls and I want them to be able to come
to me whether they’re having an issue professionally or personally with the
FGSN or anything else. I want to be a support for them. I also have to be
careful because I am friends with many of the women and I am still their boss.
If they’re not performing and they’re not keeping up, then I have to put on
that boss lady hat. That can sometimes be a hard thing to manage. I want the
girls to have fun because I think if they’re having fun, they’re going to do a
better job and enjoy it, but we are running a business and so there does have
to be a degree of professionalism and of getting work done and doing it well,
not just checking off your list but doing it in a way that’s appropriate for
the brand.

How did you go about recruiting so
many qualified Fangirls?

Most of them do have a sports
background and had been doing similar things. A lot of girls have reached out
to us via social media or the website and were interested in becoming Fangirls,
so we haven’t had to recruit a ton. I also have a couple of very close friends
that work in sports broadcasting who are being sent resumes and reels all the
time and when they find someone that they think is a good fit, they often send
them my way if it makes sense, which has been so helpful. I’ve met a couple of
one-on-one recommendations. Some of the Fangirls will say I have someone that I
think would be great and that has worked out really well. Those are the three
main ways.

What would you tell your younger self or someone
who is up-and-coming and trying to establish themselves in sports?

It’s funny because when I was 11 this
career path never existed. This would never have been an option. It’s also
funny because when I was 11 I wanted to play for the 49ers or I wanted to coach
the 49ers and I was very determined that there was no reason that couldn’t have
be a possibility.

I think I would tell my younger self
and others that there are so many avenues for working in sports. I think a lot
of people, not just women, don’t necessarily know what those are. I would
encourage people to look at a sports team, to look at a media company and look
at all the different positions that are there. There are so many amazing
opportunities within the leagues within the teams, within media companies to work
in sports.

We are launching a podcast this fall
called Get My Job and I’ll be talking to different women in the sports
industry about their career paths and how they got there. I’m really excited
for it because I think it is going to open up a world of possibility for people
that want to work in sports but don’t necessarily know what they want to do or
what opportunities are available.

I would also say you just got to do
it. I opened a WordPress website and just started it, and then I called a
friend who was a graphic designer and asked him to make a logo for me. That’s
really what you have to do. I think it is cool we live in a world today where
you can just do it. You can take your phone and do a one minute/10 minute post
game recap and put on Youtube and tweet about it and that doesn’t really cost
anything. Don’t make the excuse not to do it. You can do it while you have
another job and see what happens. I think that would be the big advice right
now.

What else do you want our readers to know?

We are creating a community of female fans. I want it to be
a community of empowerment and support, and of people who love their teams. It
should be a very positive place. If you look at our Instagram, we are sharing
all kinds of content that is informative and inspirational and funny. We want
women to be there and to enjoy it.

I would love to give one plug to
something we have launched on Instagram stories that will also be going on our
site. Every Friday we do The Friday Five. It’s been really fun to do and
I’m really proud of it. It is sort of like the things you need to know from the
week and it goes off every Friday at 4:00pm/PST. I think people really enjoy
it.

I feel like that is kind of a great
thing for your water cooler conversation, your cocktail party conversation,
your brunch conversation, because it will really sum up the top five things
that you know and that give you some facts and some fun little tidbits that you
can take into your weekend.

Thank you for creating a space for women who are fans of the game, Tracy! We can’t wait to see where FGSN goes next. For our readers, keep up with FGSN on social media!

Instagram: @fangirlsportsnetwork

Twitter: @fangirlsports

Facebook: @FangirlSportsNetwork

Youtube: Fangirl Sports Network