Carley Ann McCord (30), was flying high with friends traveling to cover the LSU game for WDSU – TV when God re-routed the flight calling her home on December 28, 2019. The sum of one’s life is the mark they leave upon the world. Carley left a bigger mark in 30 years than most leave in a lifetime. You are now reading she has tragically died, but our strength lies in knowing she is more alive today than ever. Carley would not want to be remembered for her list of accolades, but the story she penned on our lives.
From birth, she smelled of raw talent. Lucky us, she chose to share it freely. Early on, Carley met her passion for sports on the floor of St. Michael the Archangel High School’s gym, becoming a national powerlifting champion by age 15. Upon graduation from St. Michael’s, Carly enrolled at Northwestern State University.
In college, Carley found herself in a wonderland between tiaras, touchdowns and true friendships. It was never Carley’s idea to enter a pageant, but her Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority sisters refused to take “no” for an answer. Forcing her to enter her first-ever pageant, Miss Northwestern Lady of the Bracelet, which she won by a landslide her sophomore year. With ingenuity and this new title, she came to realize she could fund her education and capitalize on her career goal of becoming a sideline football sports reporter.
Carley went on to further her education at Southeastern and Louisiana State University graduating in broadcast journalism, all the while claiming 4 other pageant titles and multiple awards from the Miss America Organization for her singing talent, physical fitness and interview style. She was first runner-up to Miss Louisiana two consecutive years. Some may deem this a loss, to Carley it was an unanswered prayer. The phone rang the next day, on the other end – Michael Lombardi. He offered a unique position he carved out just for her with the Cleveland Browns; with her acceptance the stage was set.
With NFL experience under her belt, Carley returned home to Louisiana where she laid her personality on us through television and radio. She became a firebrand sports analyst and household name for her marked intelligence, infectious personality and megawatt smile. The confident directness in her voice echoes as we reflect on reporting from sidelines of the Superdome, Tiger Stadium, the floor of the New Orleans Pelicans, and interviews with legends like Archie Manning, Drew Brees, and Shaquille O’Neal.
Carley’s career’s expansion came from her entrepreneurial initiative to step into the role of independent freelancer. At the time of her death, she held eight jobs: in-house media host for the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, TV sports reporter for WDSU, sideline reporter for ESPN and Cox Sports, in-house digital media manager for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, travel agent, and international instructor teaching children in China to speak English as a second language. When she could break away, you would find her jumping on the trampoline with her niece and nephew, hosting king cake parties, dancing with friends, schooling others how to do hair and makeup, traveling to the beach or spending time with her dog – Reggie Bush. Throughout it all, she was given loving support from her husband Steven Ensminger, Jr.
In the stories of our lives, some things are handed to people, others like Carley have to roll up their sleeves and show some teeth. Carley once remarked, “I like to do things women are normally underestimated to do.” She lived between two sub-titles: I have something to prove, and I am uniquely me. In her life story, she marked the recipe for the making of a star – sheer talent, encouragement, a clear passion, work ethic, a sprinkle of ingenuity and a dash of love. And on the last page, she left a quote: “Only rainbows after rain, the sun will always come again.”
Carley is preceded in death by her grandparents Dr. V.L. McCord, M.D., and Joseph Culotta of Slidell. Carley is survived in death by her husband, Steven Ensminger, Jr., her parents Tracy and Karen McCord, siblings Carson McCord and Kaleigh McCord-Pedersen, brother-in-law Todd Pedersen, nieces and nephews Palmer and Parker Pedersen, grandmothers Frances McCord and Miriam Culotta.
Services will be held at the church where Carley was a member since birth, St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Baton Rouge on Saturday, January 4, 2020. Visitation is at 9:00am-1:00pm. Funeral Mass is at 1:00pm. Graveside service follows immediately for family only. A fellowship remembrance social with food and refreshments will be held after Mass in the parish hall.
In lieu of flowers please consider donating to Carley McCord’s Northwestern State University scholarship fund online: http://www.northwesternstatealumni.com/donations/carley-mccord-memorial-scholarship/ Donations can also be mailed: NSU Foundation, Attn: Carley McCord Memorial Scholarship, 535 University Parkway, Natchitoches, LA 71497.
Friends and family may sign the online guestbook or leave a personal note to the family at www.resthavenbatonrouge.com.