Waldman Encourages Empowerment

During an on-campus ceremony celebrating female athletics, Yankee broadcaster Suzyn Waldman said women have come far in the sports world, “but it’s not enough.”

Before a crowd of about 350 Red Storm athletes and coaches, sorority sisters and other St. John’s student leaders, Waldman said that although women have come far in the sports world, there are still strides to be made.

“Why is it just me in a broadcast booth, there’s no other woman anywhere that can do baseball?” Waldman asked the audience in a red and white table cloth and balloon decorated Marillac Cafeteria.  “I think it was inspiring,” said Jen Leaverton, senior forward on the women’s soccer team, about Waldman’s speech. “It was a really good example for if you do it long enough because you love it, it will work out.”

The annual banquet and awards ceremony, at which Waldman spoke, was originally created by four female St. John’s administrators, who felt there was a need to honor women athletics.

Mary Pelkowski, one of the original and the Associate Dean for Student Engagement, organized the event this year and said the committee chose Waldman as the keynote speaker for the event rather than athletes, as in past years, because they wanted someone who could speak about the history of women in sports,
and Waldman has been a sports reporter and broadcaster for more than 35 years.

“Her message was of hope for the future, but she reminded the audience to remember the past and the struggles that women had to endure and overcome,” Pelkowski said about Waldman, who is recognized as the first woman to provide color commentary and play by play for a major league team. “She is an example and role model to so many who hope one day to spend time in the booth.”

In her speech, the decorated broadcaster and former New York Knicks beat reporter talked about how her love of sports developed from her father taking her to baseball and basketball games as a child.

After Waldman briefly mentioned her stint on Broadway, she explained how she became a broadcaster at WFAN and rose to where she is today, but also the discrimination she suffered as one of the only female sports reporters.

“I was getting death threats, because I was taking about the New York Yankees. Isn’t that something? Somebody actually wanted to kill me because I was taking baseball on radio,” Waldman said. “Back then if you saw another woman walking into the office, one of you is not going to be there, I don’t see that changing at all.”

At the end of her speech Waldman said that women need to work together and know more than men to succeed. “What you’ve got that I never had is a network,” she said. “Don’t get jealous of other women, (and) don’t try to be other women, because if you don’t we’re going to stay only having one.”
Female athletes at the event found Waldman’s speech inspiring and agreed with her idea that women still aren’t treated fairly.

“I think a lot of what she said is true that it’s still pretty hard for women to try and show that they can do a man’s job,” said Mallory Jones, freshman guard on the women’s basketball team. “We’re making progress like she said, but it’s still not enough. And I think she did a good job telling where we came from.”