| By Teresa Peterson

Avery Cotton Stays Anchored in Faith

September 12, 2023 | As a news anchor, Avery Cotton covers stories that can be controversial or tragic. But her social media reveals more of a personal side.

“I posted a photo of my son’s baptism picture on my work social media account. I'm pretty sure it got more likes than anything I've ever posted before,” said Cotton, parishioner of Christ the King Catholic Church in Tampa.

This type of personal witness is one way Cotton shares her Catholic faith with others.

“Anytime I can casually talk about my faith or share a simple post, that’s how I like to share my faith,” said Cotton.

Cotton grew up near Mobile, Alabama, and was raised Methodist. She was involved in church ministry from a young age and during her college years, she continued to make faith a priority. However, after falling in love with and marrying a Catholic man, she chose to become Catholic.

In 2015, she moved to Tampa with her husband to pursue new career opportunities. Soon after, they joined Christ the King.

“We love it here, we feel at home here,” said Cotton.

In 2017, she received the Sacraments of Confirmation, Reconciliation, and Holy Communion, and was received into full communion with the Catholic Church.

Her day starts at 2 a.m., when she rises to get ready for the morning broadcast. Her husband, Joseph, works as a cardiologist. Their son, Sam, was born in 2022. Life, in other words, is hectic. However, the family never misses Sunday Mass.

“We hold each other accountable, not just about going to church, but about doing the right thing and having grace in certain situations. We really believe that having grace in your relationships is super important, especially in difficult situations,” said Cotton.

Her faith is the foundation that supports her through difficult times, and it has strengthened her marriage, especially when her dad was diagnosed with cancer.

“We really had to hold on to faith in those years. That’s how we started off our marriage,” said Cotton.

The hour she spends at Mass each week is essential to her well-being.

“Being able to take that hour to be in the presence of God is what feeds my soul,” said Cotton.

Even while traveling with friends, she and her husband make time for Mass. Friends who aren’t Catholic are always invited to attend, and they often do.

“Whether it’s Anna Maria Island, Puerto Rico, or New York, we're always going to make time for Mass,” said Cotton. “It's a way of life. It's just one of those things, like getting up in the morning and brushing your teeth. On Sunday morning, you get up and you go to church.”

Her life is rooted in prayer. She prays daily for her husband’s safety, “because he drives on I-4,” said Cotton. Also, prayer is a must for a restful night’s sleep.

“I physically cannot fall asleep until I say my nighttime prayers. I have been like that as long as I can remember,” said Cotton.

While Cotton is intentional about living her life anchored in faith, she doesn’t seek to be pushy about it in any way.

“I think it's very important to hold strong to your beliefs, but equally as important to respect those who have different beliefs than you,” said Cotton.

One of her core principles in life is to treat people the way you want to be treated. She says this is another powerful way to witness your faith.

“If someone sees the way you live your life and you are a witness to faith, you never know whose life you might change, just by them watching you,” said Cotton.

More about Avery Cotton,

Co-Anchor of NewsChannel 8’s Today Show, Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m.-9:00 a.m. on WFLA-TV

What do you like most about being a news anchor?

I like sharing the personal stories, like the ones on my weekly segment, “Kids Corner,” and also providing information to help people in need, since there are so many people who don’t know where to turn for help.

What do you enjoy doing around Tampa Bay?

My husband and I are big beach people. I grew up boating and fishing with my dad and my family, so I love the water.

What did you give up for Lent this year?

I gave up social media for Lent. That was kind of a big deal at work because social media is a part of my job. But the station was fine with my decision because it was important for my faith. (Outside of Lent, you can connect with her both on ”X,” formerly Twitter and Facebook.).

This article appeared in the Fall 2023 issue of Gulf Coast Catholic Magazine.