I was once told by an internship advisor that I should give up my dream of working within the world of hockey in favor of event planning. Why? Not because I wasn’t knowledgeable in the sport, but because it was “hard.”
After a summer of treating me as his executive assistant he felt it was his place to tell me that my talents, which he only saw as keeping an Outlook calendar and making phone calls, would be better suited elsewhere.
It’s fair to say I didn’t listen to him, but part of what he said was right. Working in sports is hard.
Being a woman in a male dominated field comes with its ups and downs. I’ve been the only woman on press row and in press conferences, I’ve been subjected to season-long “towel interviews” by teams trying to get a rise out of me and as a colleague of mine wrote about, I’m constantly being tested by The Quiz.
Along the way I’ve worked with women who have viewed me as an enemy rather than an ally and men who have thought themselves more superior, but unlike some women I know, I’m lucky enough to consider those encounters rare.
As an introvert, it would have been easy to take this guy’s advice and run, but I didn’t. He motivated me to do the exact opposite of what he suggested.
I sometimes think about that summer conversation and wonder where I would be if I had in fact listened to his outdated and sexist ideals, but I can’t picture it. I remember sitting there, listening to what he said and remember how I never spoke up. I let him knock down my goals, even though I knew he didn’t do to the three male interns in the office.
I’m not proud of that, but I fought back in my own way.
I earned more internships, and now work as a sports producer. That’s the best revenge, even though he probably doesn’t remember the conversation or my name.
I think back at my 19-year-old self and am proud for ultimately not backing down, though I should have told him to shove it. It was a good lesson and one I hope less women will be forced to learn as the years go on.
Being in sports journalism isn’t easy, but it’s helped me find my voice. It’s given me the confidence that I never had before and this is only the beginning.