Kelly Burke has been an active member of the Association for Women in Sports Media board since 2013, serving in a variety of roles.
After seven years of hard work and dedication to the organization, Burke is stepping down from her position as chair of the board to get some “fresh blood” into the management of AWSM. She said after so many years, it was the right time to move on and let others help lead the group.
“For me, I think I just have some other opportunities [and] I really want to concentrate on my career right now, too,” Burke said. “Since I travel a lot too, I want to spend a little more time being present at home with my husband and our dog and seeing my family.”
Burke has spent all of the coronavirus pandemic quarantined at home in Florida with her husband, Chris, and 12-year-old chocolate lab, Bella.
That’s been the silver lining of being without work during the past four months since the pandemic has changed the sports world. For Burke, a freelance sideline reporter, play-by-play broadcaster and color analyst, quarantine has altered her career trajectory.
“I was actually having the best year of my career going into this pandemic,” Burke said. “I had just done a national game for men’s basketball, I just had a ton of momentum going and so I thought 2020 was going to be the best year of my career.”
Since most of her work is in live sports, her entire spring work schedule was wiped out when the NCAA canceled its seasons. But she’s used that time to launch other projects.
She started a podcast focusing on women in sports media — which she calls a “passion project” — on July 15. Her mentor Ann Liguori, a sports talk show host and pioneer for women’s in the sports media industry, was her first guest.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while and I obviously have the time now and I’ve been able to get it to come together and navigate it,” Burke said.
While Burke cherished her time on the board, she admits she is excited about getting that sliver of time back to devote to her family and career. She plans to launch another side business in August and is lining up sideline and booth assignments she’ll resume as soon as it is safely possible.
“I think the thing I’m most looking forward to is just the possibility of when we can all go back to work,” Burke said. “I just want to go back to work in whatever form it’s in, even if it's us starting the season and there’s an interruption. I will take the game in any way at this point. I miss it so much.”
It’s easy for Burke to let go when she knows the board will be in good hands after her departure.
As she reflects on her roles on the AWSM board — including president, various vice president positions and most recently as chair of the board — there are a few things she is most proud of.
At the 2019 AWSM Convention in Tampa, the board announced a diversity initiative for the organization. Though she’s leaving the board, Burke plans to remain active helping lead the project.
“That is probably going to be the most important thing that I’ve done,” Burke said. “That’s a team effort, too. It’s not just me, it’s the entire board and really it’s going to be the entire organization.”
Her involvement with the AWSM Champions program was a special opportunity for her to reconnect with her own mentor in Liguori while filling a need for “mid-career mentorship” in the sports industry.
Most of all, she is proud of simply being a part of the organization since she became a member in 2011.
“It’s been a real privilege to get to know and work alongside so many of the women in the organization and on the board, a lot of whom have become personal friends,” Burke said.
“Just the way that we all support each other and that we’re trying to continue to grow opportunities for all women in sports no matter what your background is. We’re just trying to continue to see progress and change and make sure that happens.”