"The negativity that women in sports journalism still receive is all the more reason for us to push forward..." - Katie Brown
I remember the conversation well; I was quite young, and our little town had finally organized its first ever all-girl hockey league. I wanted to join. My parents were less than sold on the idea because hockey was "too dangerous." Lo and behold, I wound up in cleats instead of skates.
Now, I don't want you to get the wrong idea - my parents are good people and meant well by giving me the opportunity to play sports while I was growing up, but my childhood reaction to their response was that hockey wasn't meant for girls.
Fast forward to my current situation where I am fortunate enough to work for an exceptional company, writing with talented individuals about a sport that I once thought wasn't available to me. Following what has proven to be an - interesting - season, filled with plenty of upsetting situations (and I will leave it at that), I wanted to reach out to my fellow female colleagues to see how and why they found careers in hockey, and what kinds of issues, if any, they had faced along the way.
Robyn Flynn (@ladyhabs), fellow EOTP writer and TSN690 broadcaster, said even though she always loved the sport, it took her a while to decide that broadcasting was her passion, "My first-ever pro interview was with Sidney Crosby, so that was pretty cool. But my favourite moment so far was doing play-by-play for a Les Canadiennes game recently. It was a dream-come-true moment."
Luckily, Robyn hasn't experienced a ton of push-back within the industry, but social media has been a different story, "I've been called every name in the book. I've gotten rape threats, death threats, some pretty horrific stuff." From being an unpaid intern, working part-time, and going to school full-time, Robyn has paid her dues. Her advice to women looking to get into the field? "Stay true to who you are, don't change anything about yourself. Tenacity is your best friend. And work as hard as you can."
Michelle Thomas (@Slapshotg0al) from fellow SB Nation blog, Winging it in Motown, and resident prospect guru, never intended to get into the field, "I found WIIM when I was a new hockey fan...It's a challenge that helps me continue to grow both as a person and as a fan." Michelle states that even though every now and then a fan will take things a bit too far, she credits the WIIM community for speaking up against issues when they arise.
In addition, the work Michelle has done with the Grand Rapids Griffins (the Detroit Red Wings AHL affiliate) has been very positive, "The Grand Rapids Griffins organization is great about media credentials and being open to anyone who conducts themselves respectfully and professionally." Michelle's advice is simple, "Don't ever limit yourself, or think you can't achieve your dreams...Keep dreaming, keep thinking, keep confidence in yourself, and treat yourself the way you want the rest of the world to treat you."