Sadly, we have to reminisce on our last day at the convention. This is sad because of how incredibly life-changing the entire experience was.
During breakfast, we had a guest panel composed of Missy Farr- Kaye, Sharon Farr and Dr. Mark Runfola to talk about breast cancer awareness. Heather Farr is the sister and daughter of two of the panelists. Farr was one of the nation’s finest amateur golders and was embarking on her career in the LPGA tour before being diagnosed with breast cancer. In November 1993, after a long an highly publicized battle with cancer, Farr died at the age of 28. Four years later, her younger sister Missy was diagnosed with breast cancer as well. Missy embarked on the same road as her sister, which eventually lead her to be the Arizona State associate head women’s golf coach. Missy and her mother were kind enough to tell us their stories to not only create breast cancer awareness but also remember Heather as a great athlete and an even better person. Missy’s story of courage after surving breast cancer twice, was a lesson to many women in the audience that we must strong in the faceof adversity and to be conciously aware of health issues.
We all attended the “Improving journalist/PR relations” workshop in the morning. It was lead by some of the best in the industry who gave a really good perspective from the public relations/media relations side of the spectrum.
Next, we attended the Mary Garber Pioneer Award Luncheon. Let’s talk about being overwhelemed. Nothing gets you like being in a room full of women who paved the way for you to be able to follow your passion and dreams. Lisa Olson, the 15th recepient of the award, is the epitome of inspiration for women in this industry. In 1990, Olson was involved in a locker room incident of sexual harrassment. She received death threats, her tires were slashed, her apartment burglarized, she was spit on by fans at games and the incident ignited a rivalry between her own newspaper, the Boston Herald, and the Boston Globe. It went so far that the team’s owner paid $100,000 to have a full ad in the newspaper reading “I never called Lisa Olson a b***h. The results of this incident were shocking and luckily lead to a revolt from a newly formed organization, a little group we like to call AWSM.
Olson did not know any of the women in AWSM at the time but her story ignited a spark that lead the founders to come running to her defense. They did interviews when Olson couldn’t and were in full support for her all around the country. It’s amazing to know that in an incident like this one, being a part of the community like AWSM not only gains you great friends and work contacts but also warriors. These warriors are ready to go to battle in your honor at any beckoned call. It is so humbing to be a part of something like that. An ESPN documentary, “Let Them Wear Towels”, features Olson and some of the AWSM members who came to her defense.
The next breakout session we attended was “Breaking into the Big Leagues.” This featured many great panelists including Diane Lamb, VP/ Communications at ESPN. The panel also featured Jim Jenks the VP/ executive producer at MLB Advanced Media and many other great speakers. This was a great session full of advice on how to get one of those big jobs and really work your way up to the top from perfecting the resume to what to say after you interview.
The reception dinner was held at El Chorro where we enjoyed an exquisite steak and fish dinner under the moonlight and star of beautiful Arizona. At the reception, we were so honored to hear Ann Meyers Drysdale, vice president of the Phoenix Suns and Mercury, speak on behalf of women in the sports industry. Drysdale was the first high school player to compete for the U.S. National basketball team, but it doesn’t end there. Drysdale was also the first woman to receive a four-year Division 1 athletic scholarship to UCLA, where she led her team to their first national championship. To this day, Drysdale remains the only woman to sign a free-agent contract with an NBA team. After being cut by the Indiana Pacers, Drysdale turned her career into an opportunity to become the first female NBA color commenatator. Drysdale, as the GM of the Phoenix Mercury, led her team two WNBA titles. She and her late husband, the great Don Drysdale of the Dodgers, were the first spouses to be inducted into their respective Halls of Fame. Drysdale looks amazing on paper but to hear her speak in person is a memory that the four of us will hold near and dear to our hearts for many years to come.
This convention has been the opportunity of a lifetime. Yes, the resort was beautiful and the giant bathroom was a total plus but the people is what really makes this convention such a success. Especially for young students eager to break in the business, there is no better opportunity than to learn from best in the business and soak up all their knowledge. Not only that but being a part of AWSM is so much more than networking and trading secrets of the trade. Being a part of AWSM, is being a part of family. And this isn’t just any family. It’s a family that is willing to stand behind you in a time of need, it’s a family that will help to be a mentor when you’re scared of what’s to come and it’s a family that an come from all ends of the country and still be one cohesive unit. We at Oklahoma State are honored and humbled to be a part of this family and look forward to the next 25 years