tokyo olympics

Trailblazing real estate agent reflects on trip as broadcaster at Tokyo Olympics

Von LINSEY STONCHUS

Fulfilling a childhood dream can be a self-actualizing event.

Leah Secondo, a real estate agent at Michael Saunders and Company (MSC) in Bradenton, Florida, set her sights high, long envisioning herself reporting at the Olympics.

“I knew back when I was in the fourth grade that I wanted to be a sports broadcaster,” Ms. Secondo said. “I would write articles about high school football games in my hometown.”

Looking back, she described the excitement that surrounded the games.

“In that time, you sat around the TV with your family during the Olympics,” Ms. Secondo said. “It was a big deal.”

Luckily, in adulthood, working at MSC has allowed her to maintain her sports journalism career while simultaneously juggling real estate. She is deeply experienced in both, with 21 years of real estate experience under her belt and 38 years in broadcasting.

“It is year-round,” Ms. Secondo said. “I have two full-time jobs. I am very fortunate that Michael Saunders and Company lets me do what I do, and I’m very fortunate that I have good people around me to be successful because you cannot be successful without good people around you. I don’t take that for granted.”

Breaking barriers

The good people that Ms. Secondo described have been found early on, having grown up in a household with supportive parents.

These folks were especially encouraging of her ambition in sports, Ms. Secondo said, reflecting fondly on memories of Red Sox games, playing sports and tuning into the Olympics.

“[My parents] were very involved in everything that I did,” she said. “I grew up in the era where you played everything, so I grew up playing field hockey, softball, basketball and ice hockey.”

Pursuing a sports related career as a woman in the time of her upbringing was not without its obstacles.

“I was very fortunate, I played on some very good teams, but the Olympics and women’s sports were not as attainable a goal back then,” Ms. Secondo said.

When playing days ended, I started to get into refereeing those sports,” she said. “I officiated for a very long time and got into some coaching as well, along with doing broadcast work along the way.”

Although broadcasting was a more realistic way of breaking into the sports industry at Ms. Secondo’s young age, she still faced challenges because of her gender.

“When I did get hired and was moved into doing sports from news, I was fortunate that the area that I was covering knew me as an athlete, so that made that piece easier, but there were still a lot of people who didn’t know me that were not accepting of a woman covering sports,” Ms. Secondo said.

“It wasn’t until they were around me for a little bit and understood that I knew what I was talking about that I was accepted,” she said.

“I would just gravitate towards players that I knew and then the other players would see that they knew me and they trusted me, and then that whole thing kind of opened up.”

Sadly, Ms. Secondo admits the industry is still behind, but she remains optimistic.

“The good thing is that there are so many women now who are moving into management roles that it is opening the doors a little bit more,” she said. “They are making decisions, remembering to hire women.”

Ms. Secondo made history of her own in her participation at the Olympics, as the first woman to cover men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and softball for in the 3×3.

“I did the gold medal game for the women’s basketball team, which obviously is very historic,” she said.

Trip of a lifetime

As can be imagined, Ms. Secondo’s month in Japan was a highly worthwhile experience. She lit up as she expanded on the topic.

When asked about her top memories, she discussed her reflective mentality during the trip.

“Oh, boy. I had a lot of favorite moments,” Ms. Secondo said. “I actually wrote a journal while I was there, detailing everyday my experiences because I didn’t want to forget anything.”

leah secondo tokyo olympics
Ms. Secondo in Tokyo, Japan for the 2020 Olympics.

Even accepting the job itself was an experience of its own. She had first submitted a resume a few years back for the London Olympics.

“They responded back,” Ms. Secondo said. “They were already all set, so I had just missed it. I thanked them and just like any other job search, I moved onto the next resume to send.”

Little did she know that a couple years later, she would hear back again.

“In March or April of this year, I received an email,” Ms. Secondo said. “When I received the email, I first thought that it was my friends having a little joke with me because it was just it was too crazy.

“I kept scrolling through and I got to the bottom and saw my former email to them with my resume attached and I realized, this is real,” she said.

“They interviewed me from the Olympic Broadcasting Service (OBS) out of Madrid, Spain. We had an hour-and-a-half Zoom interview and it took off from there. It was pretty amazing, for sure.”

The weeks in Tokyo started strong.

“I reported one of the first games of the Olympics and it was softball and softball is very dear to my heart,” Ms. Secondo said. “It had made its first comeback since 2008, so to me that was that was big.”

Ms. Secondo also found a familiar face in the form of her long-time client and friend.

“I ran into José Bautista, who used to play with the Toronto Blue Jays and the Pittsburgh Pirates,” she said. “I sold Jose’s very first house when he signed with the Pirates and I have helped him with some other real estate things along the way, so we have maintained a relationship.”

As decorated as Mr. Bautista is, she described, he still wanted his Olympic medal. Ms. Secondo surprised him on his day off.

Ultimately, “he got his medal, he got a bronze.”

Competitive streak

Ms. Secondo’s plural careers continue at home. She reflects on how her two paths relate.

I think that you have to be competitive to be successful and I mean that in a in a gracious, professional way,” Ms. Secondo said.

michael saunders a4500595
A Balinese-inspired home in Holmes Beach, Florida, listed by Ms. Secondo’s brokerage, Michael Saunders and Company.

“You have to do the basics everyday, but you also have to be open to the changes in the sport, in real estate, to be successful and to grow in both,” Ms. Secondo said. “I think that certainly has helped me in both fields.”

POSITIVE FEEDBACK RECEIVED, Ms. Secondo is hopeful that she will receive a callback for Beijing or Paris for her next adventure.

“I was definitely out of my comfort zone, even for as long as I’ve been doing this stuff,” she said. “I’m glad I did that because life is all about living out on the edge. It helps you with the next piece of what you want to do in life.”

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