Living like rock stars: an interview with Hedger and Karim

“I’ve been in a media scrum with Michael Jordan and I couldn’t even speak. I was a fan girl,” said Hedger.

Dave Mathieson
Published on August 21, 2014
Jennifer Hedger and Nabil Karim anchored a live edition of SportCentre Tuesday night in Springhill.
Dave Mathieson - Cumberland News Now

“I interviewed David Beckham recently,” said Karim, while Hedger melted in her seat at the thought of the soccer star.

AMHERST – TSN’s sports anchor Nabil Karim is currently on his first Kraft/TSN tour and he’s quickly turned into a petulant rock star.

“This is our second tour bus because Nabil didn’t like the cabinets in the first tour bus,” said Jennifer Hedger, who is on her fifth Kraft/TSN tour. “He didn’t like the cherry cabinets, he wanted oak. Needless to say this is his last tour.”

The SportsCentre anchor team of Hedger and Karim were in Springhill Tuesday night for a live broadcast of SportsCentre, and they sat down for a fun interview with the Amherst News.

Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole were the hosts of SportsCentre the last two times TSN came to Cumberland County.

In 2009 they were in Amherst and in 2012 they visited Pugwash.

They have since moved to Los Angeles where they work together at Fox Sports Live.

Asked if they miss Onrait and O’Toole, Hedger and Karim quickly said the two men are not missed.

“No we don’t miss them,” said Karim.

“Nobody really liked those guys in the first place,” added Hedger.

Hedger and Onrait started at about the same time at TSN, and Hedger says everybody at TSN misses them.

“They’re living near the beach. It’s a tough life. Hanging out with celebrities, being celebrities, having billboards in Time Square. We probably miss them much more than they miss us,” said Hedger.

Speaking of celebrities, what sports stars have left them awestruck?

“I interviewed David Beckham recently,” said Karim, while Hedger melted in her seat at the thought of the soccer star.

Karim suggests a double date. Hedger can take Beckham, while he takes Maria Sharapova.

Karim recently interviewed Beckham while he was at a soccer camp for kids in Miami.

It wasn’t a media event but three reporters, including Karim, managed to get an interview with him.

“He’s one of those guys who is one of the biggest stars in the world but is very down to earth,” said Karim.

Hedger said her favour interview was with Jon Montgomery, winner of the gold medal in the men’s skeleton event at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

“After he won his gold medal I did an interview with him after the fact in Whistler Square,” said Hedger. “That was a great part of the game that I got to be part of. That was my favourite personal interview.”

She says she has been awestruck by athletes she idolized as a kid.

“I’ve been in a media scrum with Michael Jordan and I couldn’t even speak. I was a fan girl,” said Hedger.

“I’m a fan girl of Michael Jordan’s as well,” said Karim in deadpan style.

She also found herself in an elevator with Wayne Gretzky at the world hockey championships in Toronto.

“For somebody who usually has no shortage of words, I had nothing to say,” said Hedger. “I was standing there like a complete fan girl going, ‘oh my God there’s Wayne Gretzky.’”

Both anchors say they are having a great time on the tour and add that they are always surprised by the reception they get from people on the road.

“It’s neat to have people come up to you and ask for an autograph,” said Karim.

He says it hard getting used to people asking for his autograph, then says, “but it’s cool, because you know they’re invested in the show and want to get to know you.”

Hedger and Karim spent two hours signing autographs after Tuesday’s show and Hedger says the autograph sessions help bring everybody to the same level.

“We’re all the same people cut from the same cloth but when you see a little girl who is standing there and say’s ‘I watch you and I love sports and I want to do what you do,’ that means something,” said Hedger. “It is nice to know what we do transcends just reading the scores.”

No matter where they travel in Canada they always meet people who love sports.

“Every province has it’s own identity but every tour is filled with Canadians,” said Hedger. “We’re a hospitable people, we’re kind, we’re welcoming, and Canadians love sports. Everybody is really passionate about their sports.”

– SportsCentre Overtime:

Hedger played basketball, tennis and ringette while growing up in London, Ont., and Karim played basketball growing up in Vancouver.

Karim says when it comes to sports he’s a good walker and that’s about it.

Hedger said, “You start getting hurt a lot and you realize you’re not good any more, so I try to maintain fitness in the gym while watching sports.”

Which TSN sports analysts and anchors are the biggest sports geeks?

“Steve Kouleas, the host of That’s Hockey 2Nite, is a reference book,” said Karim.

“And Kate Beirness knows everything about college basketball and football,” added Hedger. “She’s forgotten more about college basketball than I will ever know.”

Neither seemed quite as impressed with SportsCentre anchor Gurdeep Ahluwalia.

“He’s just a geek,” said Karim.