Wallace: A Northwestern sports CTEC

Wallace: A Northwestern sports CTEC

Ava Wallace, Reporter

I learned a lot in my classes at Northwestern, but I learned way more writing for The Daily.

I gained a new set of teachers when I joined the sports desk as a freshman. My peers, a handful of Daily editors and a few sports writers who matriculated after me, taught me to write. Dozens of student-athletes and coaches such as Claire Pollard, Tim Lenahan, Joe McKeown and Kelly Amonte Hiller taught me how to interview, just by standing and answering my questions week after week. Years worth of interacting with sports information directors, known as SIDs, taught me the importance of preparation and research.

I want to thank to them for — most of the time — taking the reporters on this campus as seriously as we, often, take ourselves.

Covering women’s lacrosse was my favorite class at NU. Writing a good story was more satisfying than any good grade, and an error was far more upsetting than any bad mark. Interviewing Amonte Hiller after a loss remains more daunting than any midterm.

When I joined the sports desk, I also gained a new set of classmates — a nerdy, insular, ambitious community of sports reporters from different publications across campus.

And of course, I met some of my best friends in this world in The Daily’s newsroom, the products of relationships forged in Norris at 2 a.m. There’s no trust and respect like the trust and respect you have for the people who read every single article, email, text and tweet before you hit send.

So now, at the end of a love letter to My Real Northwestern Education, I’ve got a CTEC to fill out.

I found an amazing community covering NU sports, but my experience wasn’t the bro-tastic love fest Rohan Nadkarni described in his lovely senior column. That’s not a jab at him or his experience.

I was never questioned nor the least bit challenged as a woman covering sports on this campus. But having to force your way into conversations on the basketball court, practice after practice, for the reporter’s version of locker-room talk, is wearing. Looking around press box after press box in which no one looks like you is hard.

On the NU Athletics side, I worked with one female SID through three years of writing at The Daily. There is currently only one on NU Athletics’ online staff page — the rest are white males.

There have to be more women and more minorities on this campus working in sports media.

Of a sports staff of 11, The Daily has only three women, including me, who wrote this quarter. Of a staff of 10, five part-time and five full-time, InsideNU has no active women writers, and no women write for North by Northwestern’s three-person sports staff. More than two years and seven different sports editors separated Katherine Driessen’s tenure as Daily sports editor and mine during Winter Quarter 2014.

The lack of diversity in sports reporters at NU is, of course, representative of the nation’s problem with diversity in sports media, and in large part a symptom of the lack of diversity in all media on campus.

But as a start, NU’s student publications need to do a better job attracting the interest of and supporting women and minorities who want to cover sports. More diversity in the college press room only means fewer stupid comments directed at me and other female reporters in professional press and locker rooms down the line, and better coverage as a whole.

In many ways, we in the sports media community on campus are all educators and classmates. It’s far past time we do some homework.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @AvaRWallace