First, Robin Herman took on a neighborhood boy. Then, she had to find her place on the staff of the Princeton University student newspaper. Finally, she had to make her first foray into an NHL locker room in 1975.
In each instance, Robin Herman had to put up a fight. Her momentum helped open doors for women in sports journalism, but Herman still believes there’s work to be done.
“There are many barriers to break,” said Herman, the first female reporter ever to enter a professional sports locker room. “We are A-W-S-M. We are black, brown, LGBT, short, heavy, over the age of 50. We are women in sports media. You know that you are being pioneers every day that you go to work, to get acceptance, appreciation and respect, to get fair compensation. You are still working to break down barriers.”
AWSM honored Herman, Terry Taylor, Christine Brennan and Michigan State’s AWSM student chapter in its awards luncheon July 31 in Miami.
Herman and Taylor are the 2015 and 2016 Pioneer Award winners, while Brennan is the 2016 Ann Miller Service Award winner.
Taylor, the first female sports editor with the Associated Press, was unable to attend the 2016 convention due to a work commitment that required her to be in Rio de Janeiro in preparation for the 2016 Summer Olympics as part of the press operations. However, Taylor spoke to the audience in a pre-recorded video, and spoke about the positive and negative effects of social media on the profession.
But, she reminded the members in attendance, “you are all pioneers.
“We still have a lot of pioneering to do. This is Mary Garber’s legacy. Honor it.”
Brennan is a founding AWSM member and was the organization’s first president in 1988, and continues to fund a scholarship in honor of her parents. Brennan recalled AWSM’s inaugural convention in 1988 in Oakland, Calif.,when she counted 40 people in attendance. Then, at the opening reception July 28 in Miami, she counted 40 people, and then 40 more, and then 40 more, which illustrated the growth of the organization.
Brennan encouraged the membership in attendance to give back, not just to AWSM but to their own community.
“I’m so lucky and so fortunate,” Brennan said. “AWSM has meant so much to me. AWSM needs you, and I do need AWSM, because these are some of my best friends.”
Michigan State’s student chapter is the fourth campus organization to be honored by AWSM, and a video produced by Jazzy Teen highlighted AWSM@MSU’s internship and pre-professional experience, as well as its involvement in the Michigan State community.
Herman, ultimately, challenged the audience to change the future of the profession – and the future of the United States:
“Get 1,000 members in AWSM,” she said. “Get a woman as an NFL anchor, in a permanent, full-time position with equal pay. Elect a woman president. You can help with all of these things.”
– Rachel Lenzi