There's no place like home

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:12 AM ET

Lisa Hillary knows there's a pretty good chance, after you read this story, that you just might call her crazy.

That you'll shake your head in utter disbelief at what she's giving up.

But instead, the Ottawa native chooses to think about everything she'll gain by staying close to home.

It's called seeing the big picture, and knowing what matters the most. And that it isn't just about fame and fortune.

Hillary had both of those laid out right in front of her, so close that she could touch it and see it all being real. But the next time you see her on the air, the former TSN sportscaster will be anchoring A-Channel News at 11 -- a gig that starts Thursday and, you should know, excites her greatly.

"Who knows? Down the road I might be kicking myself about this," Hillary told the Sun yesterday. "But at this stage in my life, I want to stay here (in her home town). It's about me getting involved in the community and establishing some roots.

"I can finally buy myself a home."

Home won out over the glitz and glitter of New York City, and one of the world's great sports meccas.

For much of the past few months, Hillary had been wooed strongly by the Madison Square Garden Network, which wanted to bring her on board as an anchor/reporter.

MSG NETWORK INTEREST

She'd met an MSG producer at the NHL draft in Ottawa in late June and offered herself up as freelance material (Hillary had been filling a maternity leave as The Score's Ottawa reporter for the past year, a stint which ended for her on Aug. 31).

Three weeks later, MSG came calling with a better offer than that.

Much better.

"It was the biggest dream job you could imagine," said Hillary, 35.

"If you want to be in sports or entertainment (broadcasting), New York City is where it's at."

The interest was serious. MSG even put Hillary on the air about three weeks ago. Paid her for four nights of work. A contract had been drawn up with a salary, Hillary said, that didn't require much in the way of negotiating. MSG was prepared to pay for and expedite getting her a work visa.

"They were looking after me," she said in appreciation.

But then she caught wind of the vacant late-night anchor position at A-Channel, and the dilemma began. Stay at home, where she's perfectly comfortable, or drink up everything the Big Apple had to offer?

HUGE DILEMMA

"I had a lot of sleepless nights, wondering what I should do," said Hillary. "I was sick about it.

"I had always gone to where the job was but for the first time, I was asking myself 'what should I do.' "

In the end, Hillary thought about life in a ridiculously expensive Manhattan high-rise, and days spent riding the New York subway. And home never looked so good.

At A-Channel, they couldn't be happier about her decision. Hillary's first TV job was at the station (then the NewRO). where she worked for five years before moving to TSN in 2002.

"There's a great local connection with her," said A-Channel news director Peter Angione. "She's well-known in the community and she's got a great personality.

"We're delighted we can offer her the chance to stay at home."

So yes, you can go home again. And, as Hillary will tell you with great certainty, you can't put a price on that.

"I would have been going (to New York) for all the wrong reasons," she said. "Because people would have thought I was crazy if I didn't, and for fame and fortune.

"But life isn't all about money. You have to be happy in what you do. And I'm very happy about this."


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