Sports journalist Kelly Whiteside, the only woman serving on the college football playoff selection committee, spoke to Upper School students via Zoom on Tuesday, May 9 about her work, her career path, and what it’s like to work in a predominantly male field. The event was sponsored by the GLOW (Girls Leadership Outreach and Worth) Club and the Crimson Sun newspaper.
Ms. Whiteside has served as a sports journalist for USA Today, Newsday, and Sports Illustrated and is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. She has covered seven Olympic Games, nine World Cups, as well as the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and numerous college sports. She is also the first female president of the Football Writers Association of America.
“When you have so few female sportswriters, there’s an added burden put on you — you’re expected to prove that you know what you’re talking about,” she said. “Still, I always felt that I belonged — even when I was the only woman in the press box. I try not to let the outside stuff impact the work that I’m doing, which is telling people’s stories.”
Ms. Whiteside said that her curiosity and her love of writing drove her to pursue a career in journalism. She earned a B.A. from Rutgers University before earning a master’s degree at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She said she fell in love with sports journalism after realizing that she could “write about any number of other subjects through the prism of sports.”
She emphasized the importance of finding good mentors and not being afraid to reach out for help. When asked what piece of advice she would give to her younger self, Ms. Whiteside said, “Be easier on yourself. Be kind to yourself. Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves to achieve.”