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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, July 25, 2014

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In Sports

Newspaper reporter Lori Nickel interviews Aaron Kampman.

In Sports

Fox 6's Jen Lada interviews Bucks center Andrew Bogut.

In Sports

Reporter Bobbi Roquemore and the Bucks' Charlie Villanueva.

In Sports

Kyndra de St. Aubin of ESPN Radio interviews Brewers manager Ned Yost.

In Sports

de St. Aubin played college soccer.

In Sports

Channel 4's Jessie Garcia inspired many female sports journalists...

In Sports

...including Channel 12 reporter/anchor Stephanie Sutton.

Locker room confidential: Female reporters tackle big-league stereotypes


Sixteen years ago, three members of the New England Patriots actually did the sports world a favor.

Not that sexual harassment is a favor by any means, but the alleged actions of Zeke Mowatt, Michael Timpson and Robert Perryman thrust then Boston Herald beat writer Lisa Olson into the national spotlight. The locker room incident sparked discussion, created a stir, and forced male athletes and coaches to rethink their attitudes about the wave of female reporters trickling in to cover games and practices.

It was a milestone, at the expense of Olson, who was offered and accepted a job reporting sports in Sydney, Australia, by her employer -- to get away from the commotion. Now, she is back in the United States, tackling the Big Apple and the zoo that goes with it as a columnist for the New York Daily News. But, the trigger of this dustup was a resurgence and recognition that women sportswriters and broadcasters are here to stay.

Currently, Milwaukee has six women to front the face of sports. All of them are aware of the trail blazed by Olson and others, but they have all carved out their own niche to become a singular personality with a unique view of the games people play.

Introductions are in order:

Jessie Garcia is a veteran television sportscaster, who has worked at WTMJ since 1994. She began her on-air career in her hometown of Madison back in 1992, after receiving a broadcast journalism degree from Boston University. Garcia is married to Paul, a videographer at Channel 4, and they have two sons: Jake (7) and Charlie (3).

Jen Lada hails from Spring Grove, Ill., but graduated with a broadcast electronics degree from Marquette University. Lada worked at WREX-TV in Rockford before joining the sports department at WITI in January. She is a newlywed, married to husband Sean this past summer. They don't have kids, but try to keep up with two high-energy dogs, Niner and Wrigley.

Lori Nickel is a Milwaukee native who has been with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel sports staff since 1997. She received her journalism and sociology degrees from Indiana University, where she began working on the college newspaper in 1989. Nickel is married to Matt, and they have two sons: Evan (5) and Sean (2).

Bobbi Roquemore is a Cleveland native who got her journalism degree from Marquette. She began her career in 1999 as a reporter and copy editor at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, but left the newspaper after three years to work for Ebony Magazine. Roquemore returned to the daily newspaper as a full-time reporter in 2002. She had the Preps Plus beat for three years, and became the UW-Milwaukee men's basketball beat writer last season.

Kyndra de St. Aubin grew up in Stillwater, Minn., and stuck close to home to receive her broadcast journalism degree from the University of Minnesota, where she played on the women's soccer team. She's been in the business three years -- all of them at Milwaukee's ESPN Radio 1510 Days / 1290 Nights, for whom she covers the Brewers, Bucks and every team in between. de St. Aubin is married to Bobby.

Stephanie Sutton has been a sports anchor and reporter at WISN (Channel 12) for the past 3 ½ years, but she's been on the air in other markets for 10 years. Sutton went to Brookfield Central High School and the University of Wisconsin, where she earned her degree in communications. She is married to Brian and they have a daughter Kate (16 months).

In talking to these journalists, it made sense to get the locker room question out of the way early. The general public seems fascinated with the barely-toweled and sometimes naked obstacle course these six women have to weave through to gather post-game comments.

"People have to remember it's not like the Playboy Mansion for guys in there," said Lada. "The men aren't frolicking around naked for others' amusement. They move from the showers to their locker and begin getting dressed. Some more quickly than others, but it is never blatant full-out nudity on parade. Plus, we are in there to do our jobs and move along. So, there isn't really time for gawking."

So sorry, general public. After awhile, it's pretty ho-hum. But some will never forget the first time.

"It was traumatic. I am never comfortable, but I must say the Packers are a dream team to cover in this regard," said Nickel. "They usually wear towels and aren't idiots to women just doing their jobs. I remember Reggie White not feeling women belonged in there, but I think the guys all know I just want a few quotes, and I'll be out of their way."

"I honestly don't remember the very first time I went into a locker room, so it must not have made that much of an impression," said Garcia. "I get asked this question all the time though and my answer is always the same. If you act like a professional and do your job, then the locker room is no big deal."

Bobbi Roquemore said she thinks the athletes have been cooperative ... but getting in to talk to them seems to be a major hurdle.

"I'm more bothered by the fact that I'm usually the only female there, so security personnel and other staff always ask for my credentials on the way in, on the way out. 'Can I help you?' 'Are you looking for something?'" said Roquemore. "Once they get to know you, of course, that initial shock goes away, but for visiting teams and their people, it's always an issue. It's not the athletes, it's their handlers. Trust me, as a reporter, I just want to get my info and get out, no time for mingling!"

So the shower baptism has come and gone for all six women. But why get into this media mix in the first place? Hesitation? Not this group. By the time Olson and others set the standard, this set of six was ready to make a charge without ever turning to look over their shoulders.

"No hesitation on my part," said de St. Aubin. "I always grew up competing with boys and being pretty good friends with guys, so I had no hesitation getting into this field."

For Bobbi Roquemore, getting in was the easy part. Staying in has been a challenge at times.

"If someone had told me that I'd be one of only 20 black females out of 2,200 sports reporters in the U.S., maybe I would have considered other options," said Roquemore. "I had no idea how much of a rarity and on some levels, a trailblazer, I would be by doing this job, the stereotypes you have to overcome and the potshots people take at you simply because they think they can and are insecure within themselves. But through your work, people, at least the general public, eventually get over who's writing the story and move on to other issues, like 'Why did you write that?'"

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Talkbacks

alwaysajock | Nov. 30, 2010 at 1:42 a.m. (report)

Reporters have no place in the lockerooom. There are a few women reporters that know their business. On the other hand take Jesse Garcia, she worthless. Her stupid little comments about what the coach ate the night before, ect shows the only reason she has the job is because she is a women. If a male reporter had so little knowledge he would have been let go years ago. Maybe if some of these women reporters ever played the sport they would have some idea whats involved in the sport.

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G8609 | Jan. 7, 2010 at 9:16 a.m. (report)

Female sports reporters like to defend themselves by Comparing themsleves to MALE DOCTORS !!.... YOU MAKE A APPOINTMENT FOR? ......REALLY Im sure you dont wake up one morning and ur MALE DOCTOR doesnt just show up and say to you. O its about time for you a exam and I was in the area figured id get started didnt want to bother you, and ask you about your privacy.. So here we go.... NO the man respects you the whole time you called for his help and I bet before every move your gyno makes he asks or tells you what hes gonna do and if its alright with you. Thats the respect men give women unconditionally.... You dont find many women caring about men unless its there son

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G8609 | Jan. 1, 2010 at 2:25 p.m. (report)

And all these horror stories everyone is speaking of , with women goin into the locker room . Could have been avoided if we upheld an age old tradition of privacy. The one thing no one wants to mention. Cause if a women was forced into the situation like these professional organazations do these men they would cry bloody murder, its a double standard to replace another double standard??? Explain how your preying for a story from a athlete who just got finished playing a game for hours who just wants to change and he has to make all types of accomodations for you? As a reporter you must feel above everyone to force yourself on a nude person legally without question. Its hard to digest. And the men have been so brainwashed and soo FINED($) for speaking out against Locker room interviews that they are forced to act like they dont care even if they do. The team Scares them into being quiet. How is there any excuse , Just because a female judge passed the law doesnt make it right... I feel like the judge related her issues with becoming a judge in the 70s to the case , without even thinking about how the men would be affected!

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G8609 | Jan. 1, 2010 at 2:16 p.m. (report)

I tell you what I dont understand why do women want to fight to get into a locker room which makes them feel uncomfortable and allows a chance of men being men and her just getting offended by what we do naturally, and thats just have stupid silly fun . WHY do these Women not argue that there shouldnt be any locker room interviews FOR (MALE AND FEMALE) because the situation and because its degrading.Try to urge the NFL and MEDIA to set up podiums and sections outside the locker room so theres no chance of any of these feelings or actions.... Instead the argument just is equal oppurtunity for the worker although men dont have the same oppurtunity covering female sports, I can digest its for a good reason men show how they feel on there sleeves... Women can control themselves alot better but that doesnt mean they should be able to feast there eyes on a Naked Athlete for a few heated questions that will almost definitly be retracted or apologized and forgotten about anyway.. lets not forget GROUPIES AND BACHELORETTE PARTIES women ARE turned on my the naked male figure and body even more so in the 21st century. Im sorry but women are Human and have sex drives, women maybe not as much as men but in the 21st century things have changed. If you research a woman by the name of Patti Shea she actually put on paper what can concievably be goin through every female reporters head while there in these locker rooms..... Even a bigger deal would be female sports reporters in college in the college football locker room seeing kids in there own class in the buff.... its just not right and something has to be done! Another problem is Female reporters seem to become robots when it comes to defending there job, they lack any good reason for being in there except there own agendas..... Just the same replies word for word

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jamesbraderick | June 12, 2008 at 5:20 p.m. (report)

I have, what I belive to be a fundamental question on this matter. I read quite a few articles on the subject and I still can't find the answer. Is all the press and reporters gone after 20-30 minutes or can they bardge in at any time? If there is a given window, then there's no problem. If someone is uncomftable with walking around in just a towel and dressing in that state, he can do it later. It's just a part of his job to be available for that time for reporters. But if a reporter can come at any time at all, then it's an issue, since the player is forced to parade in front of women in a state of undress. It would also be very suspicious since it's alway stressed out that they need that access to make the news a quickly as possible (to be competetive) and to have those "raw emotions" captured right after the match. I don't understand why don't reportes inform in detail about access rules to locker rooms in different leagues (when and where can they be). It would stop most of the discussion and suspicion since many people think that athletes are forced to be naked in front of the women.

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