ESPN’s Cohn Used Hockey To Overcome Low Self-Esteem; Will Vie For Panthers Backup Goalie Slot


As a child growing up Long Island, Linda Cohn had an issue with having a low self-esteem. One could not determine that now seeing as she turned out to being one of the most powerful women in sports media. She credits her recovery from that problem with being able to stop a hockey puck shot at her at over 100 miles per hour.

Before Cohn became the world-famous ESPN SportsCenter anchor that she is today, she was a shy little girl that was suffering from an identity crisis.  She then put on the pads with the boys hockey team at her local high school and served as the backup goalie.  She parlayed that effort into a collegiate hockey career at Oswego State University where she was an anchor on the team that eventually elected her into the school’s Hall of Fame.

“I was a kid with very low self-esteem. I had some flaws, but I was able to shine as a hockey player because I had some skills,” Cohn said. “I always had something to look forward to because I was a hockey junkie.”

Monday morning Cohn will abandon her SportsCenter anchor chair at ESPN as she will be one of 60 participants who are vying for the Panthers’ Goal of A Lifetime contest.  The team will be selecting one goalie to serve as a backup for their current net minders for one day in practice.

“I saw this as an opportunity to come to Florida and meet some other goalies. I plan on getting on the ice and realizing the skills that I once had. I keep myself in good shape.”

The Panthers came up with the marketing idea two weeks ago after a loss at home against Toronto when both Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya went down with injuries that forced them to leave the game. They have not seen the ice since that night.  The team was forced to sign goaltending coach Robb Tallas to an emergency one-game contract.

“It was a genius idea by the Panthers to come up with this contest,” Cohn said. “They took something negative and turned it into something positive for the fans. I am looking forward to meeting Robb, who is absolutely super.”

There will be ESPN cameras all over the arena covering her participation in the event and she will be fully miked up during the contest. Cohn will also interview the other goalie candidates who perform the best. ESPN is planning on cutting into SportsCenter to show Cohn at various intervals live throughout the day.

“I am glad that ESPN is supporting this opportunity and is covering it as an event,” Cohn said. “In addition to SportsCenter filming me and having me with a microphone, I will also be wearing some sort of helmet cam and we are going to cutting in and out of the show with the event.”

The award-winning anchor is most concerned with her ability to track the puck visually and hopes that her eyesight does not let her down.

“For a goalie, your eye sight is so important as you always have to track the puck, it is so important,” Cohn said. “I’m sure that I still have cat-like reflexes. I just want to go down there and have fun. I just want to enjoy the moment.

Cohn said she fell in love with the game, and her beloved New York Rangers, due to the fact that her father and brothers were diehard fans and she always admired her father growing up.

“I grew up in a hockey family and I followed my dad’s footsteps,” Cohn said. “I’m not the typical Jewish girl from Long Island. I always played in the street with the boys.”

Cohn said that even though she was always covered with pads and a goalie mask, she was able to get satisfaction from knowing that it was her behind the equipment and that she was capable of playing with the boys.

“I’m a little off the wall, there is no question about that. This is a high for me,” Cohn said. “It’s a great feeling when you make a big save. A goalie in hockey is the one position that the team really counts on you, more so than a quarterback in football. A goalie has more touches and more power.”

Cohn does not want anyone offering to help her carry her bags at the airport and she is not bringing an ESPN assistant to serve as her valet during the trip.

“A hockey player always carries their own equipment, probably the only sport where that happens,” Cohn said. “People are going to see me schlepping my big hockey bag through LaGuardia Airport and when I get to Florida.”

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