Pittsburgh-born AJ Ross has returned home to cover the Pittsburgh Steelers for KDKA-TV during training camp and preseason.
Ross of Highland Park said she grew up playing sports at the Shadyside Boys and Girls Club and cheered on Pittsburgh’s favorite teams. Coming back to Pittsburgh to cover the Steelers was “amazing”.
“It’s still kind of surreal to me because having the fan point of view is one thing, but then it’s been a dream of mine to cover them professionally since I was a little girl,” said Ross on Friday. “Some of my earliest memories are, I remember seeing her every Sunday as a little girl snuggled up next to my father to watch games.”
She said she loved watching the Pittsburgh community come together to rally behind the Steelers and wear soccer jerseys everywhere from church to grocery store.
“Everyone in Pittsburgh knows what we’re doing,” she said. “We’re getting together for the Steelers.”
Ross has spent over 10 years covering news and sports for a variety of media including CBS Sports and ESPN. She started her career on the news but said it was too “emotionally stressful”. While working for ABC, she was sent to Brussels to report on ISIS attacks. In Brussels, she said she had an “epiphany” and realized that she did not want to cover terrorism and other stories that led her to only meet people on their worst days.
She’d been freelancing for CBS Sports on the weekends, so she turned to sports, something she’d always loved.
“It was just something very dear to me,” she said of the sport.
A few weeks ago, KDKA offered her the opportunity to cover her hometown soccer team – a plan that worked well since KDKA is a subsidiary of CBS where she currently works.
“Since I’m so passionate about the team, I joked that I would do it for free,” she said.
Every time Ross visits Pittsburgh, Ross tries to stop at PNC Park to see the pirates and check out a few favorite eateries like Mineo’s Pizza in Squirrel HIll and Vento’s Pizza in East Liberty.
But the best part of that time in her hometown, Ross said, is watching the Steelers build for the season ahead. Her favorite part of reporting on the training camp was “looking behind the veil” and watching the team’s daily progress.
“They build brick by brick the tenacity of the Steelers we see every Sunday,” she said. “To actually see this development from the first day of the training camp to the start of the season is really cool.”
She will be returning to New York for the regular season. Although she doesn’t yet know her exact schedule, Ross said she will be “all over” reporting the NFL for CBS.
Julia Felton is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Julia at 724-226-7724, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter.