Pepper Persley, 10, balances school with sports reporting career


By Lacey Yahnke

Journalist, athlete, musician, advocate, inspiration.

These are just a few words used to describe Camilla “Pepper” Persley, a 10-year-old New Yorker who joined “On Her Turf at the Olympics” yesterday.

Yes, you read that right. Pepper is still a child, but she has already made a name for herself in the women’s basketball world. At the ripe age of 6 she began interviewing WNBA players, which evolved into writing articles, attending Zoom press conferences and gaining access to the sport’s top athletes four years later.

Pepper sat down with co-hosts MJ Acosta-Ruiz and Lindsay Czarniak to discuss her future, filled with dreams she is already living out in her present. (Full video of the roundtable segment is embedded above.)

“I have a lot of backup plans for my backup plans,” said Persley. “My number one [goal] is to be a WNBA player, turned reporter. So I guess a reporter, turned WNBA player, turned reporter again. Or I guess I could do it all at the same time.”

All at the same time is a bit of an understatement. Pepper manages the hectic schedule that elementary school often brings: school every day followed by basketball, softball, soccer, taekwondo or violin practices. Before bed she becomes a journalist and watches the WNBA teams that she hopes to one day play and report for.

Despite her youth, Pepper is a rising sensation because of her mature rapport, insightful questions and charming personality. She is already a change-maker and understands just how much representation matters for future generations.

“It’s really hard to imagine yourself being something [or] doing something without an example or standard set,” Persley explained. “It means the world that little girls, kids and just people in general see me and [say] ‘Oh, kids can do this as well. They can have a job [and] manage it [with] school and all the other things they might do.’”

Pepper knows there’s work to be done: the glass ceiling for women in sports – and especially women of color – is far from shattered. But she is progress. She is the moment. And she is a renewed hope for what’s come.

“It’s important [for] people [to] understand that it’s a possibility for kids [to] not only want to grow up and be something, but also try to make change [while] they’re still a kid.”

To stay updated on the biggest news in women’s sports at the Tokyo Olympics (and beyond), be sure to follow On Her Turf on InstagramTwitter, and bookmark the On Her Turf blog.

During the Olympics, you can also catch up on all of the major storylines in women’s sports by watching “On Her Turf @ The Olympics,” a 30-minute show that streams for free on Peacock. Hosted by Lindsay Czarniak, MJ Acosta-Ruiz, and Lolo Jones, the show streams Monday-Saturday at 7pm ET and Sundays at 6pm ET. It is also available as a podcast