A Thunder Bay, Ont., native, Julia Tocheri has made a splash in the sports
media industry in recent years. A well-known figure at BarDown and co-host
of TSN’s Leafs Lunch, Julia’s path began by playing minor hockey with
Hockey Northwestern Ontario (HNO) and the Ontario Women’s Hockey
With her heart set on converting her love for the game into a career, Julia
enrolled in the sports media program at Ryerson University, becoming an
on-air personality with the university’s Rams Live. From there,
she hosted Mississauga Steelheads games in the Ontario Hockey League before
Her headstrong pathway has led her to where she is today and hopes to be a
leading example for young women going forward.
As part of the celebration of International Women’s Day, HNO chatted with
Julia and touched on a few topics regarding women in sport.
How have you enjoyed your endeavors with TSN and Leafs Lunch?
I have enjoyed them immensely. It's been a crazy kind of ride, being able
to start with the social media team at TSN when I was in university and
then become a part of the BarDown team. Being able to work in sports is the
biggest blessing in the world. I grew up loving hockey and loving sports,
and watching sports is one of my main pastimes. So being able to call it a
job is a huge honour.
When did you realize you had a love for the game of hockey?
This goes all the way back to my Timbits days at Delaney Arena. My dad was
the president of [a local minor hockey association] for a while, all of his
friends had sons who were all getting registered in hockey. He just tossed
the skates on me when I was three or four, signed me up for Timbits when I
was six and I fell in love with it right away.
So many of my childhood memories revolve around hockey practice, revolve
around going to the rink, revolve around tournament weekends, even through
middle school and high school. So many of my favourite memories growing up
are about hockey and playing hockey and just being a part of a team.
What has growing up playing hockey in Northwestern Ontario meant to
Northwestern Ontario is a big part of my identity. It's a big part of my
brand as well, and I think there's something really special about this
corner of the world. All you have to look at is how many NHL players this
place outputs. It's crazy for the amount of people that live here.
I think my lack of an ego, my willingness to work hard and my willingness
to start at the bottom, which is pretty Northwestern Ontario – a ‘get your
lunchbox’ kind of gritty attitude – has helped me a lot in my career. I
didn't realize how helpful it would be as I was growing up, but I'm so
grateful for my roots, and growing up there and playing hockey there and
just how it was ingrained in day-to-day life and every-day conversations at
school. Hockey was a part of everything that we did. Combined with that
hard-work attitude has set me up for success in a big way.
Do you see your success as an inspiration for young women to browse all
the potential avenues the world of hockey has to offer?
I get messages from a lot of girls saying things like, "I love seeing you
on BarDown, I love seeing you on TSN. You're such an inspiration," which is
weird to me because two years ago I would look at women like Chris Simpson,
like Kate Beirness, like Tessa Bonhomme, Andi Petrillo. I host Leafs Lunch
now when Leafs Lunch was one of my favorite shows to watch with Andi
Petrillo as the host. Those were the women that made me realize there was a
place for me in hockey and to think that I could do that for girls who are
watching now is really... It's really special. I can't overstate that, and
I just hope it continues on.
There's so much more room for not just women in front of the camera, but
women working for NHL teams, women working for junior teams, behind the
scenes in sports. The women you see on the camera is a very small
percentage of the women that exist in sports broadcasting. Representation
is the key. If you see something, you could be it.
Do you have any women role models or influencers that inspired your
I just mentioned a few in Kate Beirness [and] Andi Petrillo. Chris Simpson
was another person I watched growing up that I thought was really good,
still one of the best in the game. And women in hockey, too, [like] Hayley
Wickenheiser. So many women. My mom, even. So many moms would've been like,
‘Sports? Really? You want to talk about sports for your job?’ But my mom's
always really believed that I could fit in anywhere and do anything that
I'd like to do. Having the support of women around you is really vital in
having a career like I do.
What are your words of wisdom to young women around the world?
The first thing, just in terms of on-camera success and success in any
industry – being yourself is a big thing. When I really started to own who
I was as a person and lean into it, as I developed a brand and a
personality and kind of a broadcasting style, the more I leaned into
myself, the more I leaned into Thunder Bay, the more I leaned into things I
like, the more success I had. Authenticity is the biggest thing in the
world when you're making connections, when you're on camera, no matter what
you do. When I stopped trying to be somebody else is when I found my
Another thing is to use other women as your allies. For example, my
producer at Leafs Lunch is a woman, and it's been the coolest thing because
I so rarely get to work with women in this industry. I'm used to working
with guys. But when women work together, it's awesome. Stop seeing other
women as competition and start seeing them as allies. It'll make your life
and your career a lot more peaceful. When you have other women to lean on
who get it and who have your back, it makes everything so much easier,
whether it's sports or any male-dominated industry. To be on one another's
side is the biggest piece of advice I can hand out.