Women in sport often have an uphill battle, and this includes both on and off the pitch. The sporting industry is still one dominated by men. Nicole de Vries a freelance sports producer in Canada talks to Sport Watch Bristol about her highs and lows working in the sporting industry.
Q. Tell us a bit about yourself and your work within the sporting industry:
I always knew I wanted to be a television producer but I never expected to work in sports. I am so glad though that my career path went this way. I started as an intern in my fourth year of university and my career took off from there. I have done everything from being a shotlister (looking at hours and hours of sports highlights), a field producer (where I was able to interview many athletes on their community involvement), to now being a floor manager. As floor manager, I work almost every Toronto Maple Leafs hockey and Toronto Raptors basketball games. This is one of my favourite roles. I have a slight controlling personality so this role fits me perfectly! I am the eyes and ears of the producer in the broadcast truck, I answer any questions the crew might have and I make sure the talent is in the right place at the right time. I am very happy doing this job, but we will see what happens in the future.
Q. Who are your sporting role models?
I think every strong woman who has ventured into a male dominated industry and has been successful is someone to look up to.
Q. What would you say has contributed most to your success?
Never say no! If someone needs you to work and you can, never say no to a job. Most people who work in sports broadcasting are freelance workers, so we do not have the security most people do. If you can work, you work!
Q. Was there ever a time when you almost pursued a different career path and, if so, what made you stick with the sporting industry?
Even though I always wanted to work in television, I also had a passion for music. I played the piano, alto saxophone and the clarinet and thought maybe I should be a music teacher or a professional musician. However, since I had terrible stage fright, being a professional musician was not going to happen. As for being a teacher, I was turned off by the politics that came along with that. So sports broadcasting was it!
Sports broadcasting has really given me the opportunity to find my career personality. Sports broadcasting means that I don’t work in an office, staring at a computer all day. It also means each day is different: starting work at different times each day and working with different people every day. The best though is that I don’t have to wear dress pants ever!!
Q. What’s your best “behind the scenes” story?
My favourite person to work with was former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin. I had the opportunity to interview Sundin at a charity hockey game at the Air Canada Centre, which was one of the last times he skated there. It was a pretty cool experience.
Oh, and interviewing the actor Tim Robbins (from one of the best movies of all time, The Shawshank Redemption) wasn’t bad either.
Q. What more do your think could be done to encourage girls and women to participate in sport?
Body image is such a focus now for girls and young women, which it shouldn’t be. Girls should not be afraid to put on a pair of shorts or a swimsuit. Girls growing up need positive role models, they need to be told they can do and be whatever they want. This needs to be addressed at a young age as part of the school curriculum.
Role models are also important. There are now so many more women involved in sports that can be positive role models for young women. We need to share our stories, speak at schools, take a girl to work with us, and show them that they too can be successful.