Catching Up With Jordan and Shae Cornette

The real-life love story of Jordan and Shae Cornette is a magnificent cross-country adventure of a sports-anchor couple building a family right here in Connecticut.

photography by andrea carson

Sit down with Shae and Jordan Cornette, and you are bound to hear about how much they love our community: their love of local cafés (yes, they know all the owners by name); sports, sports and more sports; but the topic that emerges most is family. Their move from Chicago to Connecticut challenged and rewarded their growing family with job opportunities, the birth of two children and a new puppy named Kobe. We join the couple at home with their family to discuss in greater detail what they love about where they live, and what they are looking for next. Spoiler alert: They love Connecticut too much to move away, although a new home might be on the horizon.

Samantha Yanks: Shae and Jordan, tell us a bit about how you two met.

Shae Cornette: Jordan and I met when we were working together in Chicago. We had known each other for years, became close friends and finally went on a date. Naturally, when you are close friends with someone, dating moves a lot quicker. You already know each other in and out, and I still feel that way. He’s still my best friend and sometimes he knows what I need better than I do. 

Joey Cornette

Jordan Cornette: The genesis of how we met, ironically, plays a large role in why we work to this day. We cultivated a strong friendship that over time morphed into a relationship. So, the “bones were good.” Shae’s a big country music fan, and that’s a line lifted from a song. Simply put, we truly enjoy one another. Pardon the cliche, but she truly is my best friend. As Shae mentioned, we met in the workplace, so that also added a dynamic that certainly called for patience and allowing for the proper moment to take the next step. And when that moment presented itself, I took full advantage of it.

SY: How did you end up living in Connecticut?

SC: Jordan received a job offer from ESPN which required him to move to Connecticut; they are headquartered in Bristol. He received the offer while on his bachelor party, a month before our wedding, and things moved pretty quickly after that. Therefore, our first few months of marriage had its challenges. He was living here and I was wrapping up work covering the Bears in Chicago. We were long-distance and trying to sort out our life from afar with a lot of newness. 

Saylor Cornette

JC:  The bachelor party included a few more stiff drinks after the news that our lives were going to be uprooted from the Midwest and we were eastbound. My wife comes from a massive family, they all live in Chicago. I knew the pending news was not ideal for a new marriage, but I knew navigating it would be feasible because my wife is always down for an adventure. It’s never ordinary for us.

SY: Before we chat about family, what are your kids’ names?

SC: Joey, Saylor and Carter. Our dog is an English Cream Golden named Kobe, she was born the day Kobe Bryant died. 

SY: What do you love about raising your growing family here?

JC: We have met some very good people. That puts you at immediate ease when moving to a foreign place. The relationships we have built mean a great deal to Shae and I. These friends have been a part of some big moments in our life, most notably, the births of two
of our children. That makes them very special to us. They are part of our story. 
We love living near water. The landscape, the aesthetic of Connecticut is second to none. Also, I could never go without The Granola Bar in my life. Dana, Julie and their team are top-shelf. That is a part of our daily routine that I don’t ever want to go without! It’s no wonder they are taking the east coast by storm. Salt of the earth people, that made us feel at home from day one. 

Carter Cornette

SC: There is so much to do here with the kids! Coming from the city of Chicago, I was hesitant to move to a suburb, but I am truly so grateful for everything this area has to offer. The restaurants, the shopping, the beach (which is a game changer) and, of course, the ability to hop on a train to New York City. That said, if I’m being honest, it has been tough living here with our entire family still residing in the Midwest everywhere from Chicago to Wisconsin and Cincinnati. With small children and jobs that are never 9-5, it is a challenge. Luckily, we have become fast friends with some wonderful people who love our kids! 

SY: Tell us a bit about each of your kids, and what you love to do with them locally. 

SC: I’ll start with my two-and-a-half-year-old, Joey. He is named after my husband’s late brother Joel, who was also called Joey. Little Joey is such a character. He has the most loving soul, but do not get in his way if he’s tired or hungry. That loving soul will put you in your place faster than you can give him meatballs; his favorites are from Sophie’s Pizza Bar in Fairfield or Emmy’s Squared Pizza in Westport. He loves cars and trucks so if there’s a local touch-a-truck, we will be there! We also like to walk along Compo Beach and go to the park there with the kids. Joey goes to school in Westport a few days a week so after we drop him off we always stop at The Granola Bar for breakfast or coffee. 

Kobe Cornette

Next is our one-year-old, Saylor. She is just starting to come into her own. Saying only “Dada,” and she is always happy. She is slightly more dramatic and loves her play purses. “Say Say,” as we call her, goes to music class in Westport at HartBeeps, which is adorable, especially for little girls. She also loves to go on walks and hang out on the swings. Both my kids love smoothies at GG & Joe. The Boss Lady smoothie is the best IMO and makes everyone happy. 

And our oldest is Carter who is 16. Carty lives in Florida with his mom and is a State Champion swimmer. He is the most patient and loving big brother to his much younger siblings, and they absolutely adore him. He is constantly telling us about the cool things in the world and life hacks, thanks to TikTok. Carty loves Molto in Fairfield for their Penne alla Vodka, Mecha Noodle Bar and A&S Deli’s Kickin’ Chicken Sandwich, which he gets toasted with mozzarella. 

JC: Joey has a big personality. I see so much of Shae in him. He has never met a stranger. He is a social butterfly with an unrelenting curiosity about him that I find so refreshing. I love watching him discover the world in real time. I wish I could keep him at this age forever. I love taking him for donuts. If you want to see joy in its most pure form, present my son with a sprinkled donut.

Saylor is my little warrior princess. She is equal parts determined, stubborn, princessy, and strong. She can already hold her own with Joey and I love to see it. She loves to swing at that playground. She loves to get in the stroller and go for walks. 

My first born, Carter, is a teenager. So he is teaching me about the world. In all seriousness, the evolution of our relationship as he grows into a young man is so fun. We are best friends. He was born in my early 20s so I grew up with him. I became the man I am because of him. He is becoming quite the swimmer, but I am most proud of the son and big brother he is. He is an impressive kid. I am so proud of who he is and who he is becoming.

The Cornette family of six, can’t forget Kobe!

SY: Let’s talk a bit about work. Share with us a bit about your professional backgrounds. 

JC: I went to The University of Notre Dame, played hoops there for four years. I got injured post-college and my professional dreams were cut short. I transitioned into the TV business, and cut my teeth in Chicago. I started behind the scenes in production before jumping in front of the camera. I’ve been lucky to wear a lot of hats on air that included everything from being a morning TV host to doing DIY segments, interviewing politicians and celebrities and finally to sports radio which ultimately led to me getting the call from ESPN, which brought us east. I am now working as a host/analyst for NBC Sports nationally and I am loving the team and the gig.

SC: I went to Indiana University and then ended up at Big Ten Network soon after they launched, once I graduated. I built my resume from there. Some/most were small jobs, but I just tried to gain experience anywhere I could. I landed at Campus Insiders, which is now Stadium, and also where Jordan and I worked together. From there I went to Fox 32 Chicago covering all the major sports. While we were dating, Jordan was working at ESPN Radio in Chicago in addition to his other gigs. When he left to move to Connecticut, and I was still in Chicago, I took over his role and broadened my radio horizons. When I moved to Connecticut, I was working at SiriusXM NFL Radio, which then led me to ESPN. This business is hard and can be a roller coaster, you just have to enjoy the ride because there are going to be ups and downs. I now host SportsCenter on ESPN at 2 p.m., which is truly a dream job. 

SY: You ended up working together at ESPN. How was that?

SC: Jordan is the reason I am at ESPN. He basically begged ESPN to give me a shot on a radio show with him and then we never looked back. He has always believed in me, and I am forever grateful that he is my person. He and I have something special when we are on-air together, for obvious reasons. We get each other in every way and obviously know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We loved, truly loved, doing radio together once a week. There was a period of time where we were working Monday through Friday together and that was challenging. Not because we don’t love being around each other, but it is hard to work, live, raise kids, and constantly breathe the same air 24/7. It wasn’t good for us, and we were both happy to move past that. I miss the Cornettes on radio, there were countless people who would reach out to us and say how relatable our fights or agreements were, or just enjoyed the female/male pairing. 

SY: Things changed drastically during the pandemic for you. Talk to us about that evolution. 

SC: Well we had a new puppy and a new home and were finally both under the same roof as a married couple when everything shut down. It was actually a really fun time for us because we didn’t have kids yet, and we really enjoyed putting our house together and going for walks, and more walks, around every area in our new community. I am not exaggerating when I say the few friends we made, we made on walks during the pandemic. We just wanted to explore. That’s also probably why we are constantly wanting to go out for dinner, because we couldn’t for the first year! We love learning about the community and especially about the culinary experiences the area has to offer. 

JC: We truly bunkered in during that time and built our life. We made our house a home, got our Kobe girl, and had our first child together. It was such a weird time in the world, but it strengthened us. It was like, all we have is us out here in this foreign place, there was something very intimate about that. I was grateful I had my person during such a scary and isolating moment in our world.

SY: Shae, you took a step back to focus on family, health and faith. That was very rewarding for you. 

SC: As I mentioned earlier, being away from our families can be a challenge, however, being in Connecticut has brought Jordan and I so close. We really only have each other. We rely on each other  for truly everything— therefore, our relationship has grown in ways most couples don’t experience. I also try my absolute hardest to not let my job, or our jobs, swallow us. It’s very easy in our business to want to do every big game or big assignment, but I, and I know Jordan feels the same, try really hard to remember that our kids are little and this time is precious. The Super Bowl will come every year and I don’t need to work seven days in a row anymore.

SY: You both have a passion for sports. How does that weave into your personal and professional lives today?

SC: Ha! This is sometimes tricky because there are nights we despise sports and others where we are fighting over which game to watch due to where we both have to be the next day. Turning work “off” is tricky when we both cover multiple sports. I can’t wait to see how he answers this! But I do enjoy watching games together, unless it’s the Bears or the Hoosiers because he never roots for my teams! 

CJ: We are very driven and determined people that enjoy hard work and the results that come from that. So naturally it is hard to turn it off, but sports are merely our job, not our identity. So when we recognized the need to leave work at work, the adjustment was seamless. We can find fun in anything, so it’s never felt like a challenge to push that part of us to the side. Love Is Blind and Vanderpump Rules, we have our mindless television escapes as well. And we are also big Dateline NBC, 20/20, 48 HRS mystery people. So we are good.

SY: As we look ahead, you have some very exciting plans on the horizon in terms of moving. Brokers take note, what are you looking for?

CJ:  A neighborhood, closer to the water, close to town. We like our family walks for coffee.

SC: Truthfully, we just want to be closer to the water. This is what we don’t have in the midwest so we want to enjoy it! We love Fairfield. We really enjoy going to Fairfield University basketball games and the downtown and the beaches are the best. We also love Westport and are there equally as much! It will just come down to what we can find. This area is such a hot-bed!

The Cornette Family’s Mission

Can you tell us about the Joel Cornette Foundation?

SC: Outside of our family, we both have a hand in the Joel Cornette Foundation. I’ll let my husband talk more about this but this is a foundation that honors my late brother-in-law who died suddenly of cardiac arrest in 2016 at age 35. All the proceeds go to research that will hopefully save the next young athlete from this kind of tragedy. We have a major golf outing and then a few smaller events every year. It’s important to all of us to keep his memory alive. 

CJ: The Foundation is our life’s work. My brother was such a special light in the world and when he suddenly passed it forever changed me and so many others. I vowed to spend my life honoring him, he was beloved by so many. He did so much in his 35 years that I want to make sure that impact continues on. Our annual golf outing is a blast back in Ohio where I grew up.  A lot of fun pop culture celebs, athletes, and sports media personalities show up to support. It’s become an annual summer event to look forward to in my hometown. Im proud of that, we are raising money for an important cause and furthering my brother’s legacy of good.

How To Get Involved
thejoelcornettefoundation.org

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