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Sports Media

Donaldson isn't quite at home yet

JULIE DONALDSON Covering the Sox JULIE DONALDSON Covering the Sox (Photo courtesy WHDH)
Email|Print| Text size + By Nancy Marrapese-Burrell
Globe Staff / February 22, 2008

Ask Channel 7 sports reporter/anchor Julie Donaldson how she likes working in Boston and the newcomer gives an honest answer: "I don't know yet."

That's because Donaldson began her new job in her native Florida, covering the Red Sox at spring training in Fort Myers, so she hasn't even moved into her new digs. However, hitting the ground running is nothing new for her. She actually prefers it that way.

"When pitchers and catchers reported, that was Day 1 for me," said Donaldson, a 2000 graduate of the University of Florida. "Your first day on any job, you have an unsettling feeling because you don't know what to expect. You don't know the photographers, you don't know the other reporters, you're trying to get familiar with the team. It could easily be overwhelming, but I have to say pretty much everyone I've come across has been very welcoming. That's very encouraging because New York is not so welcoming at times."

Donaldson came to WHDH from SportsNet New York, where she was a sports reporter and anchor. Prior to that, she hosted "Heat TV," which chronicled the NBA's Miami Heat. She has also worked for Fox Sports Net Florida and PBS. She hasn't spent any time in Boston yet, but she said she appreciates the passion that emanates from the city's sports fans.

"You don't get any better than Boston right now," she said. "From everyone you talk to, they're happy the Celtics are doing good, but they were fans of the team when they were doing bad. If you want to cover sports, this is definitely the [place] to be. It's hard to turn it down when you're looking at football, baseball, and basketball and everything that there is. Why not?"

If you look up any biography of Donaldson, it prominently features her being crowned Miss Florida USA in 2001. She said the pageant victory is a double-edged sword.

"Of course, everyone likes to make comments on that," she said. "It's an easy label. I'm never embarrassed by anything that I've done. I wouldn't ever change it or take it back because it was a valuable experience for me. It really helped launch and get me into this business. So I don't, by any means, take it for granted. I will say it was back in 2001. It's just something that I did. To me, it's just something on my résumé. I've grown a lot beyond that. Since that, there is a huge list of things I've accomplished. I think that defines who I am today, not that I wore a crown and knew how to wave. It definitely hurts and it definitely helps."

Despite having worked in New York for a couple of years, she said living in Boston is going to be different - and not just because of the unpredictable New England weather.

"I can't say I've ever been in 8 inches of snow," she said. "In all honesty, this is going to be a new experience and a new challenge for me. I like a good challenge."

Program packs punch

Don't miss the terrific documentary on HBO this month, "Joe Louis: America's Hero . . . Betrayed," which chronicles the life of one of the world's greatest heavyweight boxers. The 75-minute show debuts tomorrow night at 8. There are encore showings as well and it's available through HBO On Demand from Feb. 25-Mar. 17. Among those interviewed about Louis, who finished his career with a record of 68-3, are Jimmy Carter, poet Maya Angelou, actor-comedian Jerry Lewis, comedian-activist Dick Gregory, Pete and Louis Marciano (the brothers of boxer Rocky Marciano) and writer Gay Talese. Said Gregory: "I lived in St. Louis. You heard it through the black community that Joe Louis is fighting on such and such a night. And it was better than Christmas 'cause on Christmas you couldn't be guaranteed you was gonna get anything." . . . Week 2 of NASCAR on Fox features the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway's 2-mile oval, Sunday at 3:30 p.m. Two-time defending champion Matt Kenseth will be going for three in a row and Roush Fenway teammate Greg Biffle, who captured the 2005 title, will buckle up as well. Analyst Larry McReynolds, a former crew chief, said, "Even though Kenseth didn't have a great finish last weekend in Daytona, he had a great racecar and unfortunately got caught up in a wreck with teammate Dave Ragan. If you go back to the final five races last year, he had five consecutive top-five finishes, including the win at Homestead, and that, coupled with his recent history at this track, makes him the favorite to win." . . . If you find yourself missing former Bruins captain Joe Thornton, Versus will air the San Jose Sharks vs. the Phoenix Coyotes Tuesday night at 10:30. Thornton had 68 points in 60 games heading into last night's matchup against the Flyers. Earlier that night, the network will show the Flyers-Rangers game at 7:30 . . . Dodgers manager Joe Torre sat down with CNBC for an interview on "Conversations with Michael Eisner." The former Disney CEO talks to the former Yankee skipper about everything from leaving New York to the steroid controversy in baseball and the Mitchell report. The show is scheduled to air Monday at 9 p.m.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at marrapese@globe.com.

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