The Association for Women in Sports Media is pleased to announce the winners of the 2014-15 Fall/Winter Mid-Career Grant. Veteran journalists Rachel Lenzi and Alexis McCombs will each receive up to $750 through funding offered by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation grant.
Lenzi plans to attend the 2015 Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in Philadelphia, and McCombs will use the grant to brush up on her editing skills, through a college course at either Boston University or Hofstra.
Lenzi is in her fourth year as a sports reporter at The Blade in Toledo, Ohio. She covers the University of Michigan football team and in her first month on the job at The Blade, she learned the importance of obtaining public records as it relates to her beat. Documents, contracts and correspondence within the athletic department of a state university, with a Division I football program all fall under that umbrella
Attending the Investigative Reporters and Editors 2015 conference, June 4-7 in Philadelphia will allow her to learn about methods of open-records reporting and requests, as well as from reporters on different beats about investigative work and open-records reporting.
“At The Blade, open-records work is almost a job requirement,” Lenzi said. “One of the first things I was asked when I interviewed was, ‘What kind of work do you have in open-records requests?’ My answer: ‘I want to do more with open-records requests. Reporters need to realize the breadth and depth of what kind of information it can provide us.’ ”
“An opportunity like this will allow me to obtain a skill set that will be crucial in covering college athletics. I cannot thank the Association for Women in Sports Media enough for its support.”
Rachel is a 1998 graduate of Chatham College for Women in Pittsburgh, Pa., and has worked at newspapers in Texas, Colorado, Maine and Ohio. She and her husband, Tommy, live in Toledo, Ohio.
Alexis McCombs is an on-air contributor and former sports broadcasting talk show host for AOL Sports and the Huffington Post, who over the years has made the successful transition from behind-the-scenes to in front of the camera. Miss Gridiron Girl, as she’s known, has made appearances on CNN, The Insider, Katie Couric Show, and Sirius Radio. McCombs wrote a book called the Girls Guide to Go: Football 101 and the Big Bowl Game, and her work has also appeared in the New York Times, Essence magazines, ABC.com and Cosmo.
She has never had formalized journalism training and would like to better prepare herself for future sports broadcasting opportunities.
“I’m thankful for organizations like AWSM that support women in a very male-dominant industry. Providing grants like this one can be a real difference-maker. It gives recipients the opportunity to enhance their skill sets, which in turn can provide a mid-career competitive advantage.
In the age of social media and digital platforms, many outlets require on-air reporters to be a one-stop-shop, where we have to shoot, report and edit our packages for the web, Twitter, Vine, etc. I will use the money to brush up on my editing skills and to get familiar with some of the newer editing technology software. No matter what stage of your career or how successful you are, there are always areas for growth. I thank AWSM for providing the means that will help facilitate that.”