Her first course, Sports Journalism, had 24 students, including Emily Hybl, then a third-year pre-law student.
Flash before August 2022 and Hybl is the producer of a sports program for an affiliate of ESPN Radio in Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest media market.
Among the interns at his station last summer was Khuyen Dinh, a fourth-year student at UVA
At the end of the internship, Hybl sent a note to Clay praising Dinh’s imagination, work ethic, and responsibility. “If she graduated,” Hybl said, “we’d all want to hire her.”
Clay’s program, in a way, had come full circle. She was right to be proud.
“For me,” she said, “it was a great testament that we formed a collaborative, creative and intellectually inspired UVA alumni network within the industry as a whole.”
Push for progress
Clay is now on the general faculty at AVU as an Assistant Professor of Practice in Media Studies. It has expanded to offer three courses under the sports media and storytelling umbrella – sports journalism, sports media production, and athletes, activism and the media – and has a growing list of alumni working in the field.
Like Hybl, many of them are women.
“What I love is that what’s happening at UVA kind of mirrors the industry as a whole, in that there are more and more women coming into sports media. “Clay said. “Even though this number increases gradually, it increases – it’s not linear. Progress can be gradual.
In September 2021, the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport released a report on race and gender in sports media. The study assessed more than 100 newspapers and websites in an effort to measure changes in racial and gender-biased hiring practices compared to a 2018 study of the same practices.
Regarding the addition of women to the newsroom, changes – such as sports columnists going from 16.6% in 2018 to 17.8% in 2021 and sports journalists going from 11.5% in 2018 at 14.4% in 2021 – were subtle. More than 80% of sportswriters were men.
As Clay attests, there has long been a “boys club” tag attached to sports journalism. On the other hand, she is proof that women can thrive in the industry. Her portfolio (she writes under the signature of Anna Katherine Clemmons, her maiden name) – filled with clips from ESPN the Magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today and other high-profile publications national — is inspiring, said Dora Friedman, a third-year student and president of the Association for Women in Sports Media chapter at AVU.
“It makes you realize you can do it,” Friedman said.
Whereas Melissa Starka 1995 graduate and secondary reporter for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” is UVA’s shining example of a leading woman in sports media, Clay’s program products are already starting to make their mark.
Hybl, who has held his position with 710 ESPN Radio in Los Angeles for 16 months, was on hand at SoFi Stadium in February to produce broadcasts surrounding Super Bowl LVI between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals.
Emily Caron, a senior writer for digital sports business platform Sportico — and another first-class student at Clay in the fall of 2016 — broke college football news last July when she reported that Barstool Sports took over as exclusive title sponsor and broadcast partner of the Arizona Bowl. She was also the first to report that basketball star Dennis Rodman’s daughter, Trinity Rodman, became the highest-paid player in National Women’s Soccer League history.
Other former Clay students (both male and female) working in sports include:
- Bridget Scaturro, a former ESPN producer who is now an executive search associate for search firm Heidrick & Struggles.
- Megan Laychak, media replay operator at ESPN.
- Nick Grossman, communications assistant for the Washington Capitals.
- Matt Newton, publisher and editor of Cavaliers Now, a Sports Illustrated-affiliated online publication that covers UVA.
- Dylan Castagne, production assistant for NFL Films.
- Tori Gray, associate director of marketing strategy and fan experience for University of Maryland athletics.
- Rebecca Childress, the human operations coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals.
- Annika Meurer, community relations assistant and youth football intern for the Arizona Cardinals.
- Theresa Matthews, Fan Development Coordinator for Sporting KC.
- Katia Rabinowitch, player experience and sports operations coordinator for the Washington Spirit.
- Lauryn Nilson, production assistant for ESPN’s Texas-based Longhorn Network.
“As a woman who’s been in the field for so long,” Clay said, “I’ve always tried to encourage and empower young women, if they feel so inclined towards this career path.”
Hybl was working as a paralegal at a local law firm when she took Clay’s course. Law school may have been in his future until Clay’s sports journalism presentation gave Hybl second thoughts.
“I was at an inflection point of what I wanted to do in my career,” Hybl said. “One of my mentors said to me, ‘Go back to what you wanted to do when you were 10 and see what part of it you can try to do – and that’s what will make you happy in your long-term career. .’
“Well, when I was 10, in my yearbook, I wrote, ‘I want to be an ESPN sportscaster. So I’m like, ‘OK, cool, let’s see if we can do this.'”