Pizza With the Pros welcomes Kayla Santiago

Neil Hartman and Kayla Santiago speak in front of crowd of students. - Photo via @RowanSportsCAM on X, formerly known as Twitter

On Monday, October 16, “Pizza With The Pros” welcomed back former Rowan student Kayla Santiago. Santiago is another guest well known in the Philadelphia community, mostly for her role with the Philadelphia Eagles. Last week, they had J.R. Aguila and David Didinger, who both worked for NBC Sports Philadelphia.

Santiago is the first Rowan Sports Communication and Media graduate to be a guest at Pizza with the Pros. After only her junior year, Santiago was offered a full-time, on-air job with Delmarva Sports Network. At Rowan, she was a Delaware Blue Coats intern and broadcaster, which she now covers as a TV sideline reporter. As of just this Fall, Santiago started co-hosting a Philadelphia Eagles postgame show for a digital media outlet.

2 years ago, Santiago was on 6ABC Philadelphia to talk about what it was like to do the play-by-play for the G League Championship. Later in the night, she spoke back on the interview saying, “I was shaking.”

Santiago graduated a year early from Rowan because of the offer she got following her junior year.

“I’m gonna be honest, it feels weird being in this seat because I was in your guys seat only a year and a half ago,” Santiago said after being asked how it feels to be back.

She also talked about how connections mean everything, which is why she is where she is today. With only being 23 years old, Santiago has a bright future ahead of her.

When asked about her strengths, Santiago said, “I think my strength was definitely my work ethic. Being a part of this great program I had so many different opportunities and I feel like I truly took advantage of every single one.”

Santiago had 7 total internships while attending Rowan in only 3 years, with her first one being summer of her Freshman year. At one point, Santiago had two internships, worked on campus, and took classes. This left a lot of students wondering how it was possible.

“Time management was everything when I was in college,” she said.

There are only two women that have done play-by-play in the NBA. These women make Santiago feel like her goal is now possible.

“You can have a goal but if you’ve never seen it, it might seem really hard to obtain it,” Santiago said.

Santiago always went above and beyond. She told a story on how she was asked to do a field hockey game. Santiago knew absolutely nothing about field hockey at the time, but would learn it very quickly. She sat down and watched every Rowan field hockey game from the past season, writing down terms everyday until the game.

When asked about Santiago as a student, one teacher said, “Kayla Santiago is one of the best students that I’ve ever had. Very hard working, very active in class, reliable, and helpful to other students.”

“I always want to be the hardest worker in the room, no matter what I’m doing,” said Santiago

Santiago works in three different states. One student asked how it’s even possible. 

“For me it’s just valuing what’s really important and valuing what’s going to get me to where I want to be,” she said. Jokingly later, she mentioned that there is a lot of coffee involved.

Another student asked Santiago, “How do you deal with criticism?”

Santiago responded, “I love it. I want people to pick my stuff apart completely because the only way I’m gonna get better is if they do exactly that.”

Santiago always is looking for a way to get better at what she is doing and she won’t stop until she perfects it. This also goes back to earlier in the night where she said something that stuck with a lot of students. 

“Don’t take criticism from someone you wouldn’t ask for advice,” said Santiago.

Overall, Santiago is a very inspiring person for young women in the room.

“This is by far the most women we’ve had at a Pizza With The Pros,” Neil Hartman stated.

Santiago is being talked about around the Philadelphia area for being a trailblazer for women, showing that doing play-by-play and working in the sports industry is not just something for men.

Coming up next week, “Pizza With The Pros” will be welcoming in Sports Agent Andre Buck, who is known for helping PJ Tucker land a three-year, $33.2 million fully guaranteed deal.