By RACHEL LENZI
As Ann Miller prepared to introduce Lydia Craver as a 2015 AWSM award recipient, Miller took a moment to look back at her first convention in 1988 in Oakland, Calif.
Then, Miller cracked a joke.
“The hotel we stayed at was where the drug deals went down,” Miller said, grinning.
However, Miller’s quip was a segue into her introduction of Lydia Craver, this year’s Ann Miller Service Award winner – who has been a key factor in organizing (and likely upgrading) conference destinations.
In earning the award named for Miller, a longtime Hawaii-based sports reporter who was one of AWSM’s charter members and who served on AWSM’s board for the organization’s first 10 years, Craver was recognized for her annual contributions.
AWSM honored Craver and Robin Herman, this year’s Mary Garber Pioneer Award winner, on the final night of the Denver convention.
Herman was the first female sports reporter hired by the New York Times in 1973, and became the first woman to enter an NHL locker room when she did so at the 1975 NHL All-Star Game in Montreal.
Herman moved to covering politics in 1979, covered health and science at the Washington Post and retired from Harvard University in 2012 after serving as assistant dean at Harvard’s School of Public Health.
AWSM board member Meri-Jo Borzilleri spoke on behalf of Herman, who was unable to attend the 2015 AWSM convention because of an illness.
Christine Brennan recalled reading a Time magazine story on female sports reporters that profiled Herman.
“Robin Herman was just a legend,” said Brennan, a columnist with USA Today and a charter member of AWSM. “I had never seen a woman’s byline. I had no idea where were women out there … I realized this was possible.”
Craver has been an AWSM member since 2000 and has coordinated conventions and regional events, including the organization’s 25th anniversary celebration, and manages site selection and contract negotiation for AWSM’s convention properties – including the 2015 convention at the Grand Hyatt in Denver.
In addition, Craver was AWSM’s vice president for five years, and served on the board from 2003 to 2013.
Craver is an editorial advisor with ESPN and previously worked at newspapers in South Florida, including the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post.
Upon receiving the Ann Miller Service Award, Craver recalled the first AWSM convention she attended in 2000 in Toronto, and issued a challenge to the organization’s younger members.
“Make the most of this,” Craver said.
The University of Missouri’s student chapter was also honored on the first day of the conference as AWSM’s student chapter of the year. AWSM@Missouri has 58 active members who participate in career-related activities with industry professionals, host social events and promote the chapter on its campus in Columbia, Mo.
Miller also reflected upon the growth of AWSM since the start of the organization.
“What is happening now is beyond our wildest dreams,” Miller said.