As part of her job as a college football news editor for ESPN’s remote production crews, Sandy Rosenbush roams the sidelines before some of the nation’s biggest games.
Sometimes, her news gathering is interrupted by someone who studied under Rosenbush in her role as co-director of the Sports Journalism Institute, a nine-week training and internship program for college students.
“Nothing makes me happier than being on the sidelines and being tapped on the shoulder by someone who is an SJI graduate,” Rosenbush said.
At ESPN, SJI grads are all around her, including ESPN.com reporters Heather Dinich, David Ubben and ESPNNY.com’s Ohm Youngmisuk. Leon Carter, ESPNNY.com’s executive editor, is co-director of SJI.
But those are just a few of the lives Rosenbush has touched in her roles at the Washington Post, New York Times, Sports Illustrated — even a stint as the first female president of the Associated Press Sports Editors.
She’s being honored for her journalism career by the Association for Women in Sports Media (AWSM). Rosenbush is the 2012 Mary Garber Pioneer Award winner, presented to those who have paved the way for women in sports media.
Previous winners include ESPN senior VP Rosa Gatti, the 2011 recipient, and Claire Smith – now ESPN’s MLB news editor — who won in 2000.
“I was really stunned, because I don’t really think of myself as that,” Rosenbush said of learning about the Garber Pioneer Award, which AWSM will bestow at its June convention.
“It was also humbling. Three women who are now at ESPN [have won this award]. I was honored to follow in Rosa Gatti’s footsteps and Claire’s as well.”
She’s appreciated by her colleagues, too.
ESPN/ABC play-by-play announcer Brent Musburger recently told Sports Illustrated: “I’ve encountered at ESPN a wonderful group of researchers, including the best I have ever been around, [ESPN news editor] Sandy Rosenbush.”
For Rosenbush, a natural love of journalism discovered in her Tampa, Fla. high school years has evolved into teaching the discipline.
She and Carter co-founded SJI in 1993, when she was APSE president and Carter was the chair of the National Association of Black Journalists Sports Task Force.
“We wanted to do something that would expand the number of women and minorities [in sports journalism] who had a chance to get their feet in the door like we did,” Rosenbush said.
“We felt like a lot of college students who were good journalists – particularly women and minorities – were often told, ‘Sports? That’s not that serious. You need to do something important.’ “
But sports journalism is more than fun and games: “We wanted to encourage them that we need their voices as much as any other branch of journalism does,” she said.
The SJI program counts roughly 250 graduates – including Greg Lee, senior assistant sports editor at the Boston Globe, NABJ President and “our poster child”, Rosenbush said, chuckling.
Lee, who is on SJI’s board of directors, supplied the pictures of Rosenbush, Carter and their pupils you see in this post.
The Sports Journalism Institute already has its 2012 class selected for study at the University of Missouri.
Rosenbush has worked as an event news editor – focusing primarily on college football — at ESPN for nearly four years. She won an Emmy for her work in news producing for ESPN’s coverage of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
She describes her job here as “particularly focusing on infusing news elements into the telecast.”
For instance, during the recent Alabama-LSU BCS National Championship Game, Rosenbush was focused on “boiling down the many bumpy, off-the-field elements LSU had overcome on its way to getting to the game.”
She would have to summarize the various storylines or “get about 12 things boiled down into five lines of type so that it actually had a chance of seeing the light of day during the game. And it did.”
Rosenbush arrived in Bristol after teaching in the New York public schools system while earning her masters degree at Brooklyn College. She taught middle school classes in the Brownsville neighborhood and later high school courses in Flatbush.
Erasmus Hall High boasts such famous alumni ranging from singer/actress Barbara Streisand to Pro Football Hall Of Famers Al Davis and Sid Luckman, to name a few.
But the current students at the schools now within Erasmus’ walls are “a sometimes underserved and underappreciated population,” Rosenbush said.
“Kids are so at risk for not finishing high school. [Teaching is] humbling work, more humbling than any award you can get.”