In Conversation with Lesley Visser

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13 reviews
This podcast has
36 episodes
Date created
Average duration
37 min.
Release period
8 days


In more than four decades of covering sports, Lesley Visser has almost always been the "first." The first woman enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the first woman to win the Lifetime Achievement Sports Emmy, the first woman on Monday Night Football, the first woman on the Network broadcasts of the Final Four, the NBA Finals, the World Series and the Super Bowl - and she's the only woman to have presented the Lombardi Trophy to the winning Super Bowl team. Along the way, Lesley's made many friends and acquaintances, from the wide world of sports, music, business and Hollywood. She's excited to bring her mirth and merriment, along with some serious interviews, to this new venture.

Podcast episodes

Check latest episodes from In Conversation with Lesley Visser podcast

Jessica Mendoza
Jessica Mendoza is one of those people who make you want to, as Vin Scully says, "pull up a chair." Throw out a topic, and she's there. Olympic softball? Mendoza won a Gold medal in 2004 in Athens, then watched while the sport was jerked in and out of the Games for more than a decade. Softball won't be included in Paris in 2024, but Mendoza will be tenacious about it being added to the Games in LA in 2028. From her roots as a 4-year-old dragging a bat around the backyard, Mendoza's been a captivating pioneer. A beneficiary of Title IX, she squeezed every opportunity out of the landmark legislation - a scholarship to Stanford (plus a Masters), the US National Team, network television (including calling Jake Arrieta's no-hitter on Sunday Night Baseball), and most recently, the Women's College World Series, aka the Oklahoma Invitational. All this, plus why, as a child of the Dodgers, Brett Butler was her idol. More, please!
Val Ackerman
As an attorney, Val Ackerman can usually see both sides. But not on this topic. With bona fides that include an early Title IX basketball scholarship to Virginia, a law degree from UCLA, being tapped by David Stern in 1996 to help design the WNBA, sitting with Pres. George Bush at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 as the first female President of USA Basketball, and thoughts born of her current position as the Commissioner of the Big East, Val Ackerman is certain of one thing. The men and women should play the Final Four in the same city at the same time. She tells us why, along with theories about NIL and how the Big East offers value beyond money. Val Ackerman is fearless - she grew up minutes from where Washington crossed the Delaware. And one of them is in the Naismith Hall of Fame.
Julie Foudy
There was a time that the USWNT won a World Cup and no one really knew about it. Iconic former midfielder Julie Foudy said she came home from the US win in China in 1991 and her professor at Stanford wanted to know why she’d missed class! Eight years later, the sport exploded when Foudy and Co. won the 1999 World Cup in Los Angeles. She tells Lesley the joy of now being part-owner of the glittering Angel City FC, about what Title IX meant to young athletes, and why the benchmark decree still needs to be protected. Never shy with her opinion, Foudy disagrees with Hope Solo’s charge of a “toxic culture” in the USWNT, and has some circumspect thoughts about the intersection of Title IX and transgender athletes.
Dominique Dawes
Dominique Dawes once felt so controlled by her coach, Kelli Hill, that she said Hill terrified her into silence by threatening to send Dominique to "the Karolyi Ranch," the highly-regarded but fiercely intimidating program run by icons Martha and Bela Karolyi. It's a culture Dawes wants to change. As a 45-year-old mother of four, Dawes is speaking out about the "fear, shame and silence" of world-class gymnastics. Dawes, who competed in the Games in '92, '96 and 2000, said she may never "coach an Olympian" in her Dominique Dawes Gymnastics Academy, but she "wants to see joy and laughter back to our beautiful sport." She shares her thoughts on Simone Biles, Larry Nassar and getting her degree at the University of Maryland. As Helena said in Midsummer Night's Dream, "Though she be little, she is fierce."
Cheryl Miller
She might be the greatest women’s basketball player of all time. Yes. If you’ve ever wondered how dominant Cheryl Miller was, consider this - she still holds six records at USC, the school that gave us giants like Cynthia Cooper and Lisa Leslie - and Miller left 36 years ago. Before a knee injury stopped her at only 22-years-old, she was the scoring/passing/rebounding/stealing/shot-blocking/joyous player that every coach or fan ever dreamed about. Her Hall of Fame brother Reggie was once asked, after a playoff game, who was the best defensive player he ever faced, and he answered, “besides my sister?” As old friends, Lesley and Cheryl talk about everything from coaching (she hated it) to the WNBA (she loves it) to the fate of Brittany Griner (some very strong words.)
Sarah Talalay
Sports diplomacy is nothing new - back in 776 BC in ancient Greece, there was an "Olympic Truce" to ensure there'd be no battles or conflicts during the games. In the 2800 years since, we've seen all kinds of scenarios where sports and societies mix, often for a greater good. Sarah Talalay, a former sports business journalist in the United States, has been working as a Cultural Affairs Officer in US Embassies around the world. Her position often involves sports diplomacy, which she calls "one of the best ways to demonstrate soft power." Now in her fourth posting overseas, after Chennai, India; Vilnius, Lithuania; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and currently Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Sarah has overseen such diverse programs as NBA and NFL watch parties in Vilnius with Lithuanian NBA Hall-of-Famer Sarunas Marciulionis, a baseball clinic with Barry Larkin, and bringing J.R. Reid to Malaysia. She talks candidly about everything young female athletes face in predominantly-Muslim Uzbekistan, about its increasingly progressive government, and the best food she's enjoyed in all her stops. The goal? - for all of us to be strangers no more.
Eric Stonestreet
The only person two-time Emmy award-winning, beloved actor Eric Stonestreet never got to meet was the late John Madden. They would have been great friends. In fact, Kansas City coach Andy Reid, a genuinely close friend of John's, told Stonestreet the same thing. They're the same kind of guys - all offensive linemen at heart, and Stonestreet's favorite to-the-bone team is the Kansas City Chiefs. He even bought season tickets (now able to afford a suite) above the same seats he sat in with his father as a child. Eric, who starred in "Modern Family" but is an old-fashioned fan, stayed with the Chiefs through all the lean years, then joyfully erupted when Kansas City beat the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV, hugging Coach Reid on the field in Miami. They both look good in red.
Molly Bloom
Yes, she had a Italian mobster put a gun to her head. Yes, the buy-in for her underground high-stakes poker game, where regulars included Ben Afleck and Toby Maguire, was originally $10,000 and eventually grew to $250,000. Starting as a waitress at the games, Molly Bloom eventually became the banker and once saw a man lose $100 Million in a single night. Bloom originally aspired to reach the highest level of mogul skiing, the Olympics, not the lowest depths of an FBI raid, which came after she began taking a percentage of the pot and broke a federal law. Bloom's wild tale was made into a fascinating movie, "Molly's Game"
Kevin Willard
He said of course he's going to take recruits to the Willard Hotel. No, Kevin Willard, the new coach at the University of Maryland, has no connection to the 150-year old Washington landmark that sits across from the White House. But he does want recruits to know that playing near the nation's capital is a benefit beyond the court. After an impressive decade at Seton Hall, Willard has another challenge on his hands - Maryland fans have been waiting 20 years for the once-proud program that won the NCAA title in 2002, to bounce back and prove something in the Big Ten. Willard, who scouted for Rick Pitino with the Celtics and was an assistant for him at Louisville, can't wait to get started.
Keith Hernandez
By all accounts, Buck Showalter made all the right moves this year, including inviting Mets icon Keith Hernandez to hang around the batting cage in spring training. What, you say, Hernandez wasn't allowed to mingle with the players? YES (or in this case, SNY,) it's true. As a result of Keith calling Mets games for the regional network, the previous owners didn't want to mix media and the Mendoza line. The new manager corrected that, and, as Keith recalls, even took him around on a golf cart to meet every single player at the training site in Port St. Lucie. The two men also have "Seinfeld" in common, although Hernandez was in twice as many episodes (two.) The World Series winner with both the Cardinals and the Mets still loves the games, but thinks they are way too long. Among other things, he suggests "fewer walks," and is genuinely annoyed when pitching changes are made by the winning team in an 8-0 game in the 8th inning. All that, plus where, exactly, did that mustache come from?
Cal Ripken Jr
He was the everyday player’s Everyday Player. And on September 6, 1995, with President Clinton and now President Biden watching in Camden Yards, Cal Ripken, Jr. broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive-games streak (1925-39), a streak that officially started for Ripken on May 30, 1982 and ended with a 22-minute standing ovation for the shortstop’s 2131st straight game. In between, he’d been the AL MVP twice, won a World Series, and become as famous in Baltimore as the “Star Spangled Banner.” Cal’s written dozens of books and been the subject of a dozen books. And in today’s baseball culture, which is trending toward “load management,” it’s unlikely anyone will ever touch Ripken’s total of 2632 consecutive games. The leader right now? Whit Merrifield, second baseman for the Kansas City Royals, with 443. Play ball!
Bruce Pearl
Bruce Pearl’s first interview with Auburn was a calamity. He’d been out of coaching for three years, the result of an NCAA investigation that deemed him ultimately responsible for transgressions at Tennessee. He’d taken a job in business, working for a grocery distributor in Knoxville. When Auburn came calling in 2014, Bruce was filled with guilt and self-doubt, and told Auburn that he wasn’t sure he was the best candidate for the job. But when all were convinced, Pearl did what he’s always done – turned the program around with a mixture of marketing, recruiting and excellent coaching. A lifelong outsider, and proud of it, Pearl was only the fifth Jewish coach to lead a team to the Final Four. Now he wants to bring his team to Israel.

Podcast reviews

Read In Conversation with Lesley Visser podcast reviews

5 out of 5
13 reviews
Philly in Bay Area 2021/10/17
A Wonderful Treat
Intelligent conversation that engages the mind is a rare and wonderful treat these days. Have listened to the episodes with Billie Jean King and Kenny...
naomiwey 2021/10/02
I really enjoyed the conversation with Jim Boeheim - it was great to hear about those old Big East games in Madison Square Garden!
sjmootch 2021/09/02
In conversation with lesley Visser
As expected…fun, funny, entertaining, probing, joyful and enlightening. Felt privileged to listen to an intimate conversation between two icons. Can’t...
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