By Stacy Bauman
The bulletin board at the University of Missouri was littered with fliers. A normal scene at a college campus in the 1990s.
Vicki Friedman, a graduate journalism student, stopped to peruse the opportunities when one jumped out to her. The flier was fairly non-descript — no letterhead or fancy font — but what it advertised was unique: a scholarship/internship available to female sports writers.
Friedman sent in her clips, resume and a letter of reference, never expecting to hear back.
Weeks later, Christine Brennan, then a writer at the Washington Post, called with the news that Friedman was the winner of the scholarship/internship. Friedman, chosen out of a field of 40 applicants, would be the inaugural intern for the Association for Women in Sports Media.
Friedman, a Washington D.C. native, didn’t know what was more exciting — being chosen as the inaugural AWSM intern or getting a chance to connect with one of her role models in the business.
“I was just in awe of Christine Brennan,” Friedman said. “I had followed her career and to have her call me was just amazing. She was great to me and even took me out for dinner when I stopped back home in D.C.”
At the time, the internship program did not have a list of employers established yet. The two discussed what papers Friedman would like to spend the summer interning. In the end, she headed to the Philadelphia Inquirer, where she was the only sports intern.
Friedman spent the summer covering a mix of stories. She helped Bob Ford, the paper’s 76ers writer, cover the NBA Draft, spent time at Eagles training camp, covered the Hambletonian Stakes horse trotting race, did a few shifts on the desk and spent time shadowing the veteran writers.
“That experience opened up a lot of doors for me,” Friedman said. “I was able to learn so much and gain valuable mentors.”
Mentors, like Mel Greenberg, whom she has remained close to throughout her entire career.
After her internship, Friedman began covering high school sports at the Coloradoan in Fort Collins, Colo. Although Friedman loved her job, she missed family and wanted to go back East. She was also engaged to Mike Holtzclaw, another sportswriter whom she had met at Missouri.
Holtzclaw got a job in Virginia and Friedman went with and began freelancing for The Virginia-Pilot. She even started taking part-time copy desk shifts before being hired full-time on the desk in 1994. A year later, she became the paper’s first full-time female sports writer.
Friedman’s first beat was covering Old Dominion women’s basketball. It turned into a huge beat when went the school went to the 1997 Final Four and the Elite Eight in 2002. Covering women’s basketball and women’s athletics became her passion. One of her favorite stories about a former NC State women’s basketball player visiting her father stricken with ALS was honored with an APSE award in 2008.
In 2006, The Pilot awarded her with the Slover Award, given to the paper’s best sports writer. By then, Friedman had begun covering Norfolk State football. After two years, she was re-assigned into news as a city reporter. She didn’t enjoy the change of scenery and left the paper to search out new career paths.
Friedman ventured into various journalism areas before landing at the 46,000-student Tidewater Community College in Norfolk, where she is currently a campus communication officer. She also teaches one English class a semester at ODU. Friedman and her husband live in Norfolk with their two sons, Harry, 15, and Ben, 12.
While her career has taken a turn from sports journalism, according to Friedman, sports writing will never be out of her life completely. Friedman and a friend run a popular website “LadySwish” (http://ladyswish.blogspot.com/), a site that focuses on the 13 Division I women’s college basketball teams in Virginia. She also freelances for the Colonial Athletic Association, ESPNW and various other outlets.
“I owe a lot to AWSM,” Friedman said. “It gave me a great start and I still support AWSM’s mission and the things it is trying to accomplish.
“Anytime you are the inaugural of anything it’s really special. I feel so proud to have been the first AWSM intern. That experience opened up a lot of doors for me and still remains a great honor.”