By Laken Litman
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — An unprecedented 30 college students attended this year’s Association for Women in Sports Media convention at the Montelucia Resort & Spa. Some were members of their university’s AWSM chapter, some were interested in starting one at their own school.
And what better way to show your peers how hard you’ve been working through the organization than by winning AWSM’s first chapter of the year award? Just ask the group of women from Oklahoma State who attended the convention and accepted the award.
“We worked hard this year, especially in building membership,” said OSU’s chapter president and co-founder Kelli Grashel. “It’s great to be recognized for it and we’re so excited about next year. We’re totally going to win it again.”
Several OSU members were attending their first AWSM convention. All were excited — and some a little nervous — to meet and learn from successful women in the industry.
“What surprised me a lot was realizing all the work these women have done,” said OSU freshman Courtney Brown. “ For me now, I think about what field I want to work in when I graduate, do I have enough internships, or am I doing this or am I doing that. It was so different (for them), the barriers they had to break down. And to see how the field is now compared to when they first started is crazy.”
AWSM celebrated its 25th birthday and many of the organization’s founding members were in attendance. Throughout the week, the veterans encouraged younger members to reach out, ask questions and get advice.
It was the perfect opportunity for those breaking into the field to network and meet some of the women who paved the way in sports media.
“It was incredible to see all these women whose hard work and dedication is extremely inspiring,” said OSU junior Corbyn Wheeler. “I had a lot of fun. I was extremely nervous, but everyone was so welcoming and so nice, giving me business cards, making me really comfortable and excited about the field I’m going into.”
Wheeler also said she got a chance to meet and talk to other women who are in or are thinking about starting a chapter at their respective universities.
“It was cool seeing them interested in how we got our student chapter started and how we’ve grown and them taking ideas from us,” she said. “And we’re from little Stillwater, Okla.!”
Oklahoma State and Michigan State were the first student chapters to officially launch in the 2011-12 school year. AWSM currently has 10 chapters, including ones at Missouri, Penn State and Ohio State, and is adding 10 more next year.
“It’s fun to watch the group grow and see all the progress they’ve made,” said Gina Mizell, who is a professional mentor for OSU’s chapter. “It’s not a huge club, but the ones who are in it are super passionate about it. They want a repeat. They want to start a dynasty. But I also hope that other chapters start gunning for them because that means the program is growing and other chapters across the country are doing a great job.”
But until then, the women at Oklahoma State will relish the honor while continuing to plan events, bring in speakers and grow their membership.
“To win chapter of the year was the cherry on top,” Brown said. “It made for a good year.”