What used to be a field dominated by males is fast becoming a profession in which women are carving a name for themselves among the best sportscasters in the business. “This is a man’s world” couldn’t be farther from the truth as you turn on coverage of “America’s favorite pastime” and find for instance Julia Morales, a sports reporter and host for AT&T SportsNet Southwest. This Latina is also making waves and has become a fan favorite as the field reporter for the World Series Champions, the Houston Astros.
A Texas native, Morales was born in Houston, and grew up in the small town of Crandall Texas where she shares how surreal it is to look back and think,“How did I get here from where I started?” This small town gal is anything but! Morales has become a household name bringing fans along for the ride with her intuitive knowledge of the game, always on point with “guns-loaded”(as a fan shared on her website) covering every aspect of the games from start to finish. She credits growing up with a strong support system, and her parents as her role models and the key to her success.
Always a performer, Morales shared her love for media began when she was around nine years old. The performing gene was a part of her family’s heritage as she had the dancing bug at a young age. Her mother and father met dancing, and her aunt was a dance teacher. No stranger to the spotlight, Morales went on to share her passion for media awakened when her father ran for the U.S. Senate in 1996.
“Through a lot of national attention in that race, and what he was doing as just a school teacher on the ballot at the time, and how he started a trail of followers and people who believed in his message brought in all the media,” shared Morales. “I was watching reporters do live shots and photo shoots with our family. As a young kid, I was soaking it all in and loved the idea of being on the news and telling stories.”
It was the perfect backdrop for a young girl with big dreams. “That’s where it all began for me. I played all the sports, and after college, it all came together and I realized I could put my two loves together and make it a job,” shared Morales. Her journey along the way was a series of impressive performances even before landing on the greatest stage in sports history. One could say dancing as a “World Famous Kilgore College Rangerette” along with performing in a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, and a performance in the 2004 inaugural ball worked in her favor, getting her ready for those on the go play-by-plays she delivers with such style and grace, all while rocking the perfect outfit and at times doing it with the most stylish heels on a baseball field no less.
It was her love for sports, though, that took front and center moving forward after receiving her degree in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Texas. Working the smaller markets, she became a sports reporter, and weekend sports anchor as she worked her way up always knowing she “wanted to take the next big step.” As luck would have it, her agent came across a newly created position as a traveling reporter with the Astros doing about 150 games. “This idea of staying with the team was all very new to me,” shared Morales. “Of course I threw my name in the hat. I had covered a lot of triple-A baseball in Round Rock, Texas and had fallen in love with the game, covering the minors and all the stories you can tell at that level.” What once may have seemed far-fetched was now a reality as Morales shared it was the “Perfect Storm” to her landing a dream come true.
From 2013, as the Astros had just joined the American League, she began her “first big league moment.” Straight out the gate, Morales hit the ground running, covering what started out as a perfect game. “I’m so nervous, and I’m having to cover this perfect game, and I have all these questions. It was so real and so fast at this level and exactly why I wanted to do this for experiences and good games like that.” As we sat in Minute Maid Stadium with a game in the background about to start it was clear to see and hear the passion behind this Latina trailblazer changing the landscape of how we experience these once-in-a-lifetime sports moments. “That’s how it all started for me. 2013 was a tough year for the Astros. I grew so much as a reporter. I was challenged. At times it was really hard and at times we had a lot of fun. I wouldn’t trade any of it for what I have seen in my six years here.”
Being the only woman traveling with the Astros could seem challenging but having the hard working mentality that Morales grew up with, and always being over prepared and “showing up and doing it right from the beginning” makes it second nature as she works alongside her veteran broadcast colleague’s. A comradery that feels more like one big family. “They are just my co-workers and have always treated me with a tremendous amount of respect. A lot of credit goes to the team for being so accepting of a female in this role,” shared Morales. “It’s been incredible to watch players grow up in this job and all of it has been really special.” Favorite interviews Morales shared include José Altuve. “I love the humbleness that comes across his interviews with me. I cherish that dearly. George Springer is a blast to interview, never know what he will say.” Rounding out her list she admires the passion Evan Gattis has for the game in her interviews with him.
As we walked along the corridors of the ballpark to sit down, it was clear that Morales has made a name for herself, and a place to call home as fans were quick to let her know how much they admire her and enjoy her coverage of the games. Among the players the same can be said as the trust and relationship among them is like a band of brothers with their sister. Does she get nervous? “I get nervous for big games, big interviews. I don’t want to mess up their moments,” shared Morales. I’m very much a part of what’s going to be remembered from a game for the post-game interview. Her charismatic personality reels you in from the moment she highlights the first inning to the bottom of the ninth and all the double plays, solo home runs, and a player’s Major League-leading fifth leadoff homer landing him among the elite of players before him. Her Twitter feed reads like a play-by-play of the highs and lows of a game along with photos and video highlights to keep you up-to-date.
Being doused with Gatorade or having the players throw sunflower seeds on you as you’re reporting could be a deterrent but not for this chica. She takes it all in for the love of the game, and it’s refreshing to see the comradery on and off the field that makes this an exciting and perfect gig for Morales. For some, Morales has been an introduction to a game they never watched before. “Doing what I do and having my face pop up every once and a while does give little girls or women at home someone to look to,” shared Morales. Her delivery and poise is a down-to-earth commentary that many find relatable and easy to follow. In a world where so many are quick to judge and throw out negative comments, Morales shares how it warms her heart to have such a welcoming fan-base.
So what does the future hold for this versatile Latina pioneer blazing through and breaking down barriers to the powerhouse she is in the world of sports? Having covered a wide range of sporting events such as the Super Bowl, NBA Finals, and a World Series the sky is the limit. Stay tuned and be sure to follow her on Twitter @JuliaMorales and on her Instagram at juliamoralesclark. Final words of inspiration from Morales “Be true to yourself and be so proud of what you can become!”