The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

On-air host of NFL Network, Iowa alum Kimmi Chex returns to Iowa City

The sports personality described her journey from Iowa football to the NFL and gave advice on navigating college.
Apr+27%2C+2023%3B+Kansas+City%2C+MO%2C+USA%3B+NFL+Networks+host+Kimmi+Chex+on+stage+during+the+first+round+of+the+2023+NFL+Draft+at+Union+Station.+Mandatory+Credit%3A+Kirby+Lee-USA+TODAY+Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 27, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; NFL Networks host Kimmi Chex on stage during the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kimmi Chex, on-air host of NFL Network and University of Iowa alum, returned to Iowa City to give students insight about her journey in sports media.

The sports personality graduated from the UI in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication and a certificate in Critical Cultural Competence.

Growing up in Kansas City, Missouri, Chex has been a football fan from a young age. She attended the Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts her last two years of high school and majored in broadcast journalism and television production during her time there. Her love for being on camera grew from this experience.

“In high school, every single day, we would produce two or three shows a day,” Chex said. “I have that hands-on experience and have that background and did every single thing because we were a small little shop of about 15 students.”

Chex first came to the UI as a double major in Journalism and Mass Communications and Political Science. After her first year, she dropped the double major to put her sole focus on journalism.

Chex’s previous TV experience from high school led her to work with Daily Iowan TV during her first year. She decided to focus on academics after one year with DITV.

Chex was then encouraged by the Office of Admissions to voluntarily work with football recruits on game days. What started off as volunteering turned into a paying job after she was offered a student assistant position by the Iowa football office.

“Iowa football doesn’t hire publicly at all,” Chex said. “So you have to know people or know your way in. My way was working in admissions, joining star volunteering, then a two-year gig with Iowa football. That opened my eyes to everything, and I credit so much of how I got [to NFL Network] because of that job at Iowa football.”

Another big part of how she got to where she is now was through her internship with the NFL. While searching for internship opportunities, Chex stumbled upon the NFL student rotational program that accepts just seven out of 3,000 applicants every year. She sent her resume and cover letter to the NFL and was extended an offer a few weeks later. This would start a six-month interviewing process with the NFL.

During this time, Iowa was hosting Ohio State for a football game in 2017. ESPN was traveling to Iowa City to cover the game — one of the most highly anticipated college football contests of the year. ESPN had reached out to the athletic department and said they wanted Chex to work with them for the weekend. She took the opportunity to work with ESPN as a production assistant.

After that weekend, ESPN had reached back out to Chex and offered her a position to work college football games for the rest of the season. She respectfully turned down the position to finish school but expressed her interest in the position after the school year.

ESPN flew Chex out to New York City as part of the interviewing process. After killing the interview, they called her and extended her an official offer to work for the NFL full-time.

“I graduated in May and moved from Iowa City to New York City and started my journey with the NFL,” Chex said. “Ever since then, it’s just kind of been this incredible experience of them giving me the opportunities, but me also getting in the room and realizing this was my one shot to make a lasting impression.”

Chex covers college football along with covering the NFL. In her first year working for ESPN, she was assigned to work at the Heisman Awards as a production assistant.

Chex recently gave birth to her first child with her husband, Jason White. Her daughter, Wilhelmina, is ten months old. Chex is the only woman on an air-based show in Los Angeles that has a family. Chex can be seen on shows such as NFL Gameday Morning and NFL Fantasy Live, as well as the network’s coverage of events such as the Super Bowl, the NFL Scouting Combine, and the NFL Draft.

Starting a family, combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, has given her perspective about who she is as a show host versus who she is as a person.

“I’ve learned that at the end of the day, my job does not define me,” Chex said. “It took a while for me to shed that notion that when I introduce myself, I don’t need to include my job because I’m a holistic person outside the NFL. And while my impact [at the NFL] may be powerful, my impact at home is everything.”

College courses are important in deciding how students will go about their profession. For journalism students, Chex emphasizes the importance her college writing classes had on her career.

“I wish everyone knew how much you actually write. Please pay attention in your classes regarding writing,” Chex said. “Writing is at the core of every single thing we do, which is really eye opening. Even for me, I thought these people on TV were just little geniuses and everything just came out of their mouth so great. But there’s a ton of writing and a ton of research that has to be done. About 90 percent of my day is writing and researching.”

Chex ended the presentation challenging students to be diverse when picking classes and not just focus on one certain category.

“Finding those classes that are challenging and different because I was so surprised at what my job really is … I wish I had a stronger business sense and a business understanding in which maybe I could have taken a class when I was younger that kind of leaned into that,” Chex said.

 

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About the Contributor
Chris Meglio, Sports Reporter
(he/him/his)
Chris Meglio is a first year student at the University of Iowa studying a double major in sport studies and journalism. He will be working as a sports journalist for The Daily Iowan covering women's volleyball for the fall sports season.