What is it really like to have a husband playing in the NFL? If you’ve ever been curious, our NJMOMpreneur of the Week, Atoya Burleson, wife to former NFL player Nate Burleson, wants to give you a peek behind the curtain. Inspired by friends and fans who would ask for details about life in the NFL, she created InSIDELINES, a podcast giving an “inside the lines” look at the sport from a female perspective. With her co-host (NFL wife Tia Avril), they talk about everything football, from trivia to sharing stories of NFL family life, and welcome guests like NFL wives and women making waves in the male-dominated football world. Offline, she’s got a side hustle, too: She writes a website and lifestyle blog with tips for moms juggling a busy career and home life, fashion advice, and self-care mantras. We caught up with the Franklin Lakes mama of three to chat about her sports background as collegiate hurdle champion (that’s how she met her hubby, former Minnesota Viking turned TV host and commentator Nate Burleson) to how she hopes her podcast gives women a voice in the sports world and the Ridgewood spot where her family gets their can’t-live-without açaí bowls.
featured image via @roy_daniel_photography
Tell us about your own background in sports and the role sports have played in your family.
Sports have always been a part of my life. In my senior year of high school, I won the state title in Arizona in both the 100-meter hurdles and the 300-meter hurdles. I received a full-ride scholarship to the University of Nevada, where I earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. While I was there, I met my husband Nate, who played football for them. After college, Nate played 11 years in the NFL, and we traveled and moved a lot. Sports was tremendous for us because it taught us discipline, work ethic, and most importantly, brought us together. It also impacted our lives both physically and mentally and instilled in us the importance of teamwork and positivity. We both try to implement those same concepts and life lessons within our kids.
What made you want to start your podcast? What types of topics do you cover on InSIDELINES?
InSIDELINES is a podcast hosted by myself and my friend Tia Avril. Both of us are NFL wives, and I got the idea because so many of my friends and fans wanted to know more about my family and behind-the-scenes of football in the NFL. I thought it would be fun to create a podcast and share the female perspective about life ‘inside the lines’ of the NFL, as well as celebrate other women and their journeys. It’s always been my dream to give women a voice in the sports world through connecting, empowering, and creating a safe place for them to talk comfortably and be real. We laugh together a lot, and our guests share their truths about life, love and sports, and all the moments in between. We also work football trivia into our podcasts so women can learn more about the game and its history and be a bigger presence in the sport. Occasionally, we feature NFL players and men involved in the sport to help mix it up and hear their perspectives.
In addition to your podcast, you also have a website and lifestyle blog. What is your favorite subject to write and share about?
I started the blog as an outlet to share my life and all I’ve learned throughout my journey. In it, I touch on home ideas, parenting tips, fashion, beauty, and self-care, working out and healthy eating, as well as travel ideas— it’s my life, and hopefully, I’m making my readers’ lives a little bit easier with these tips. Creating a lifestyle blog was natural and fun because I already lived a blog of sorts on my social media. I love sharing cooking, home decor, and self-care because I know women can relate to my experience. We are always looking for quick recipes, something to spruce up our homes to make us smile, and most importantly, remembering to take a moment for ourselves. Women naturally give, and we don’t always realize we’re neglecting ourselves at times. I’ve done this on several occasions, and I know I am not the only one. I hope my blog can encourage and remind other women to remember to love themselves as well.
What do you hope to teach your children through having your own business and creative outlet?
I hope they learn it is never too late to reinvent the wheel. You should never stay in a box or a career if it doesn’t serve you. And most importantly, I want them to learn to go out there and do things that make them smile and inspire others.
Tell us about some of your favorite local businesses and why you love them.
We lived in Ridgewood for three years, and some of my favorite local businesses are in that town. I love P. Smith Design for home decor. The style is beautiful, and they have everything you need to make your home look and feel amazing, from stylish objects to gorgeous furniture pieces. When it comes to restaurants, there are so many that come to mind, but my top restaurant picks are: Roots, a classic steakhouse for a date night; Park West Tavern with the family because there’s something for everyone on their menu; and Raymond’s for brunch or lunch, offering classic diner food with an upscale twist. And finally, my family is big on eating healthy foods, so our go-to place for an açaí bowl or smoothie is at Wild and Hearty—they have fresh-pressed juices and the best combos for protein shakes too.
What encouraging words do you have for other NJMOMpreneurs who are just beginning their journeys?
It is never too late to dream. Make it a point to surround yourself with women who encourage and support you. However, it’s okay not always to have the answers—be brave and bold enough to ask. And most importantly, be open and willing to make adjustments as they come since we all know there will be issues along the way. When you are flexible and adaptable, it will be easier to get through it.