Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m the Host and Sideline Reporter of the London Knights on Rogers TV and sometimes I pop onto CBC as their Junior Hockey Correspondent. I love how much these roles connect me to the community that’s watching and/or listening. I’ve got to meet so many incredible humans, many of which have turned into friendships. It’s such a privilege for me to be part of someone’s drive to work or the game they’ve been waiting to watch all week.
I’m also the Co-Host of the her Soul Shot podcast, alongside the incredibly talented, intelligent, never been done before Founder, Kyla Lane. We speak to women in sports across the world who love being just that – a woman in sports!
I’ve always loved pretty much any sport. It started with soccer, and then transitioned into playing basketball throughout elementary school and high school which became my main sport. Now as an adult, I’ve learned how much fun (and scary) it is to try new things. I decided a year and a half ago that I would learn how to play hockey – I’ve never played before, but I kept learning these incredible stories of women through her Soul Shot who picked up sports later in life and I thought, hey why not? I figured since I could skate a bit and play some solid road hockey, I could just piece those two things together right? Ha, I’m kidding. It’s REALLY hard but also SO fun. It’s shown me how magical it is to try something new and test yourself in different ways. I also started playing flag football this summer and it was an absolute blast.
What is an issue or topic you are passionate about or would like to see changed?
We need more representation in sports across the board. As a host & reporter in junior hockey, I’m one of the only on-air female reporters in the Ontario Hockey League. I look around the media rooms, to the broadcasts across the province and there just isn’t the same representation of women as there is to men – not even close.
When I first started, I didn’t know my role on-air would also mean something to other people. I was so focused on doing a “good job” and saying the right things all the time, I didn’t realize just how impactful it would be to have a female on a broadcast like ours. We see the female presence more at the NHL level, but in junior hockey it’s still rare. I’ll have parents and grandparents come talk to me at games telling me that their daughter and granddaughter now likes watching because I’m there, and there aren’t words to illustrate how special that is. I’m so proud that they see a place for themselves too. On top of that, it’s opened the eyes of the fanbase as well. Just because they “typically” see (older) men with a headset on calling the games, now they know that a woman can be there too.
My producer is always open to new ideas. One day, a little girl showed up with a homemade headset and media pass. Not only was it incredibly precious, it was symbolic to my team and I. Next thing I know, my producer had the idea to surprise her and invite her on-air with me for an entire game. That’s still one of my favourite moments of my broadcasting career.
What specific strategies would you like to see parents, coaches, or sport administrators do to improve diversity in sport or progress your cause?
I think this can be an intimidating task for people and maybe that’s why it’s often avoided. Even if you have ideas of how to implement certain changes, it can be difficult to implement the “how” behind it. But often times the small, more approachable things can go a long way. So that being said, we need to start somewhere.
Start asking questions and start having the conversations, even when those conversations might be uncomfortable. If we want change to happen, we need to feel uncomfortable.
The answer of “well it’s this way because this is how it’s always been”, I’d challenge you to reflect on that. Why are we abiding by that logic?
Some questions in mind are:
These are starters, you know, just to get the wheels turning!
While they start to have those conversations, I’d want anyone – parents, coaches, sport administrators, fans – to all reflect on the leader that you are. Who are you outside of the sport? What are your values? How do you show up everyday? What do people know you for?
What is your favourite leadership quote?
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” -Maya Angelou
If you had 25 words worth of advice to share, what would you say?
Whatever table you’re at, you have a place there. No one else can bring what you can to the table, so bring all of you.
Laura Okmin. This woman is doing the most to increase female representation in sport – and ensuring every female knows with confidence that they have a spot at the table, on the field, in the booth, you name it.
Sidelined – Julie DiCaro https://www.amazon.ca/Sidelined-Sports-Culture-Being-America/dp/152474610X