By Allie Kessel
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Flying to Scottsdale, Ariz., and staying in a gorgeous resort could only be matched by meeting the renowned women in sports media history who have made the growing prominence of women in sports possible.
“I met Lesley Visser!” I screamed to my mom over the phone. Impressed and a little taken aback, my mom was able to realize what an unbelievable opportunity this convention truly was for me as both an aspiring sports journalist and zealous fan of the women I currently look to as role models.
I arrived in Scottsdale in the mid-afternoon at the height of the scorching heat, ready to take on all that was to come. Upon arriving at the beautiful Montelucia Resort and Spa, I was greeted by Lydia Craver, the heart and soul behind the entire convention. After soaking it all in, I made my way to the Fiesta Bowl Museum where I would have the opportunity to network and put myself out there. Slightly terrified to say the least, I made my way around all of the inspiring and impressive woman in attendance and attempted to strike up a conversation. The combination of being a little shy and being intimidated by the women in the room who sit at the top, I managed to break out of my shell, keeping in mind what these women could potentially do for me if I were to make them notice my abilities.
Because I broke my ankle about a month prior to the convention, my heavy boot did make me stand out and was a great conversation starter, but I wanted to be noticed for a different reason. I was hopeful that all the women there could see my bursting excitement and willingness to do whatever it takes to be the best at what I do. As I made my rounds, I became a little more nervous and a little more confident at the same time as I was beginning to loosen up, yet hear all of the professional titles of each woman, which became more and more senior as I went along.
“I need to impress her. She’s important,” I thought. However, as the convention went on I was able to see how genuine all of the women were. It wasn’t about necessarily impressing them, but more about listening to what they had to say, as they all aimed to mentor the young women like me who recently joined AWSM and are still working toward or in the beginning stages of their careers. Astounding women like Christine Brennan and Lisa Olson, both of whom played a rather large role in paving the way for women in sports media, were genuinely interested in hearing every young woman’s personal and career goals and offering advice stemming from their own remarkable careers and experiences over the years.
This became more and more relevant each day as I attended the several panels made up of women who could change my journalistic life at the snap of their fingers. As each panel ended, audience members, including myself, lined up to speak to the panelists, trade business cards, talk about their goals, but most importantly to simply listen to all of the advice they were more than willing to offer. Ten, eleven young women would be line up to speak to women like Nona Lee, Cindy Brunson and Kathy Krudavi, who were also so gracious in receiving each and every one of us with a smile on their face, no matter how long they had to stay until the crowds died down.
Besides being so very welcoming, the women I approached answered all of my questions with honest answers, which were the exact answers I needed and hoped to hear. It was truly amazing to be able to approach these celebrated women with ease and comfort. I feel so lucky to have been in attendance at this year’s convention. Although I was shaking in my boots, or boot, in the beginning, I quickly came into my own as the women I looked up to assured me of my capabilities with benevolent smiles.
“Contact me any time,” Brennan said to me the last night of the convention during cocktail hour. I was blown away by how open and interested she was in my goals and aspirations. She listened intently to my stories and replied with fantastic ideas about how I might advance. Christine is representative of all of the women at the convention, making my experience unlike any other.
Nervous and excited to arrive, I left Scottsdale feeling far more confident, accomplished and hopeful for what’s to come as a woman in sports media.