Maven to Know: LARRA OVERTON, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS REPORTER
If there’s one thing Larra Overton is passionate about, it’s sports.
The born-and-raised Hoosier is a household name in Indy sports media, having been a reporter and anchor with FOX59 and CBS4, respectively. She was also a collegiate athlete as a track and field star at Indiana University Bloomington. Today, she’s a producer, host, and reporter with the Colts.
Larra chalks up her affinity for sports to childhood experiences and growing up around a lot of guys.
“I was somewhat of a tomboy and grew up in a neighborhood of a lot of boys,” Larra says. “So, I was always playing pickup basketball games and wiffle ball in our backyard.”
We caught up with Larra and talked about what to expect from this upcoming football season, what it’s like being a woman working in sports media, and how she made her debut on ESPN at 17 years old.
How did you land your job with the Colts?
I actually started in July of last year, so I’m still relatively new to the job. I actually previously freelanced for the Colts, hosting a TV show called Colts Up Close. I’d also been the sideline reporter for their pre-season broadcasts. So, luckily, I had some relationships over there and had networked with a lot of people who were integral in making the hire for this position.
Is football your favorite sport?
I absolutely love football—there is absolutely nothing like the environment of a Sunday game day in a full stadium. My “co-favorite” sport would have to be track and field. My parents both coached track and I’ve been competing since I was old enough to put a toe to the starting line. I competed collegiately as a middle distance runner at Indiana. I owe a lot to the sport for the countless doors it has opened for me, and the cherished relationships it has given me. In fact, both my high school and college coaches traveled in for my wedding this July!
How do you see sports reporting changing in light of COVID-19?
The one thing about sports reporting, in general, is that you’re used to adapting so much. You have to evolve because the industry is creating different demands. So, I think that certainly sports media is going to see a drastic change in this next six months to a year as a result of COVID. This is certainly a different challenge than we have faced before.
What’s one of your favorite memories from working with the Colts?
Last season, being at Arrowhead Stadium. There were a couple of massive plays in that game that I remember and feeling that I was really beginning to hit my stride in contributing to our radio broadcast. Then after the game, getting an interview with Ryan Kelly as he’s running off the field. Every single bit of that game is something that I so cherish. As soon as kick-off happened, I was in my own sort of game mode. I went right into “let’s get down to business.”
How do you think it will be at Lucas Oil with reduced numbers of fans?
For practices, they’ll pipe in some of that crowd noise to give it a game like feel. I can tell you because the guys did such a great job of bringing the energy, you started to feel that game-like excitement. I mean, Darius Leonard ran out of the tunnel, throwing his hands up as if there were 68,000 people in there. He acted like it was full to the brim out there!
What’s your advice to young girls who are going into a field that is heavily male-dominated, such as sports media?
Anything that you want to be successful in, whether it’s sports media or whether it’s technology or medicine or law or anything, there are going to be challenges. Being successful at anything is going to be difficult. So, I never thought that the odds were so stacked against me or that I had it more difficult than anyone else because I chose to go into sports media.
What’s something people might not know about you?
I actually made my on-air debut on ESPN at the age of 17 as part of the broadcast for the Wendy’s High School Heisman awards. I was nominated for the award and I told the producers that’s what I wanted to do. So, they actually gave me the microphone and let me talk through a commercial break as part of the broadcast. When I say that this is all I’ve really wanted to do, it’s true.
How can people make their Sunday football memorable During this strange 2020 we’re having?
Gather your family, reach out to your neighbors or your family who live close by and get that typical tailgate crew together. Come to somebody’s house and make each week a potluck theme. Take advantage of September/October weather, whether it’s setting up a TV outside or putting one of those nice outdoor screens up. You get 17 weeks of the season, so get really creative!
Who’s someone you look up to most?
I am fortunate to have so many mentors and role models whom I greatly admire but one that stands out, both personally and professionally, is (Carmel High School grad and WISH-TV alum) Sage Steele. Her work ethic is remarkable, she’s endearingly genuine and authentic, and she’s also refreshingly candid when sharing the challenges, she’s endured to become one of the most admired sports broadcasters in the business, as well as an amazing mom of three.
Samantha Kupiainen is a regular Indy Maven contributor.