Emily Ehman: Life After Sport
“No one is going to give me anything. I have to start making my own opportunities.”
Since she was 9 years old, Emily Ehman knew she wanted to be a sports broadcaster and make a statement as a woman in the industry. Less than a year after graduating and finishing her collegiate volleyball career, Ehman turned these dreams into reality.
Born and raised in Bloomington, Indiana, Ehman grew up a Hoosier fan, as her uncle, Dan Dakich, coached collegiately at Indiana and Bowling Green from 1995-2007. Her uncle’s involvement at Indiana University and playing sports from an early age played a vital role in Ehman’s career aspirations.
“I remember growing up and playing tag in Assembly Hall or hide-and-go-seek in the basketball locker rooms. When I was about 9, I started following the sideline reporters around at games because I thought it was the coolest job ever.”
From an early age, Ehman was also able to shadow current ESPN reporter Allison Williams before she was well-known, and notes that among others, she was a huge inspiration as a woman in the industry.
When it came time to choosing a college, Ehman took an often unconventional route for many future student-athletes and looked for schools with strong journalism programs that would allow her to play volleyball as well. For her, these schools included Syracuse, Cornell, and Northwestern. Northwestern had always been a dream school for her, as she grew up loving the city and knowing Big Ten athletics well.
“From athletics, to the education, to the people, to the city: I had an incredible experience at Northwestern. The experiences and the relationships that I formed will stay with me forever. Being a student-athlete is one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences that an 18-24-year-old can have.”
A Pandemic Graduate
Ehman finished her volleyball career in November of 2019, only giving her 4 months before the pandemic put the world on pause. Ehman was currently interning with a news company when offices shut down and she was sent back to Indiana. During a period where she was expecting to break into sports journalism, the pandemic shutting down sports could not have come at a worse time.
“I was without a job, job-searching every day, applying to 20+ jobs a day, some of which I didn’t even want. I had this idea in my head that I’m not getting into sports journalism so I might as well take any job I can get right now.”
Two weeks into what felt like meaningless job searches, Ehman had the realization: no one was going to give her anything, and there was very little to give even if employers wanted to.
Making Your Own Opportunities
“No one is going to give me anything, so I’m going to have to start making my own opportunities.”
And Ehman did exactly that. She began with creating Big Ten Volleytalk, an online web show where she interviewed players, coaches, and alum from the Big Ten to talk about their volleyball experiences, and highlight what they were doing off the court due to the pandemic. Her ultimate goal was to highlight women’s sports and shed light on volleyball specifically.
“After a few episodes, I immediately started receiving feedback from coaches and players, and that meant a lot to me. That’s when I decided I needed to act on this feedback and keep moving forward with it.”
After sending her work to several platforms, Ehman also reached out to VolleyballMag.com and shared her idea on how to “up” their digital media presence. While the position began as mostly freelance work, the cancellation of the Fall 2020 Big Ten schedule opened up new opportunities within other conferences. Only 5 conferences played in the Fall 2020 season, but Ehman was able to expand her outreach and interview a new community of people.
“For me, this time was a lot about gaining experience. Gaining experience interviewing people, editing videos, and networking were all huge for me.”
A few months down the road, former teammate, Payton Chang, had recently announced that she was working for Athletes Unlimited, the only professional volleyball league in the US. Ehman saw this as an opportunity to put herself out there once again and work on reaching out to people within the organization to find job needs. Low and behold, the league needed a digital host for the 2021 season and Ehman found herself in Dallas.
“The need was for a digital reporter who knows a lot about volleyball and would be able to interview the players regularly. I just thought to myself, this would be perfect.”
Advice for Getting into the Industry
“My best advice for getting into the broadcast journalism industry is to make your own opportunities. There’s no right or wrong way to go about something. If you know you’re passionate about something, find your niche and run with it.”
Emily is currently back in Chicago, working as a social media manager for Newsy, and will be covering the D1 NCAA Women’s Volleyball tournament as an analyst from the Big Ten Network. Follow along at Emily’s Twitter.
About Game Plan
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By : Julia HatcherGame Plan Intern