Sports Success

by | Jan 2022

Jenny Taft shares her long-time passion of sports with a national audience

Jenny Taft shares her long-time passion of sports with a national audience.

Jenny Taft shares her long-time passion of sports with a national audience.

For most of us, we’re lucky if we are able to pursue a passion in our lifetime. It’s a rare thing if that passion becomes a career; we know there is luck involved, but hard work and grit play into it, too.  Jenny Taft, an Edina native and a 2006 graduate of Edina High School, always knew she loved sports and would someday work in the industry in some capacity. Taft says she realized early on that becoming a professional athlete probably wasn’t going to be a realistic goal and that part of her life was eventually going to come to an end. She remembers being immersed in sports—having played tennis, lacrosse and hockey from a young age.

“I really always wanted to work in sports, and I also enjoyed acting. I did school plays and even musicals, even though I don’t sing well,” Taft says. She realized she liked performing and the adrenaline that came with it, so she did commercials where she first read from a teleprompter.

After graduating from high school, Taft headed to Boston University to study broadcast journalism. She joined the university’s lacrosse team and got involved in the student-run TV station, honing her on-camera skills that have served her well. While in school, she interned at multiple media outlets, including Fox 9 News, Fox Sports North (FSN) and Bally Sports North. A year after graduating from college, she went to the media mecca of the world: New York City.

“I moved there naively thinking I was just going to get on TV somehow. Broadcasting is a tough industry, and it’s really hard to get that first opportunity, but once you get it, it’s really what you make of it,” Taft says. That first opportunity came from connections from her internship at FSN, when she landed a gig as a “Fox Sports North Girl,” she says. She also worked as a social media reporter for the Minnesota Wild and the University of Minnesota men’s hockey team.

These days, Taft’s passion for sports lives on. She’s a moderator and host for the very popular show Skip and Shannon: Undisputed on Fox Sports 1, a position she landed in the summer of 2018. Within those years, and for the past few, there has been a national conversation about women in sports and equity, whether they’re behind the camera or on the field. Taft says while she doesn’t think things are perfect, she does believe progress is being made. “Women in sports isn’t a unique thing anymore, and it shouldn’t be. This is just the beginning for women coaches and referees and the more the better,” she says. She’s had a lot of help along the way from women coaches and mentors who encouraged her, and she says she pays it forward now whenever a young woman reaches out to her for advice.

Growing up, Taft was surrounded by athletes. Her father, John Taft, is a hockey player who won two national titles with the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team and went on to play professional hockey for six seasons for the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League. Her mother, Mary Taft, was a competitive speed skater. Her brother, Charlie, played hockey at Colorado College and professional hockey in Germany as well. To top things off, Taft’s husband, Matt Gilroy, was a part of the 2018 U.S. Men’s Olympic hockey team in South Korea.

She remembers winters in Edina being filled with trips to the skating rinks and her mother calling the warming houses to check in. (The days before cell phones!) Taft says she and her brother get their competitiveness from her father, but he was never the kind of father who expected them to play sports just because he did. “He is the most positive human and coach, and he was always so supportive of whatever we wanted to do,” she says.

As a child, John says his daughter was competitive, outgoing, friendly and sometimes stubborn, a trait that he takes credit for passing down to her. He remembers her at about 4 or 5 years old, talking to strangers in the neighborhood and having “interesting” conversations with them. She also had a play recorder and a microphone to interview whoever would agree to it, foreshadowing what was to come. John says the entire family is very proud of Taft and her work ethic, and  they’re not surprised she’s doing what she always wanted to do. 


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