Steph Hirsch, KLN '17, is committed to leveling the playing field in the sports world and beyond. The graduate student at the University of Washington currently works as a Transportation Equity Program graduate intern for the city of Seattle. But their dedication to diversity, inclusion and equity stems from their work in sports media, their role as a former athlete and their queer identity; and one of the places that helped them along the way was Klein College of Media and Communication.
Hirsch first developed their love of sports in their childhood. Their father was a play-by-play broadcaster for the National Hockey League who also did work with Major League Baseball. In high school, Hirsch played goalkeeper for the soccer team and sang in a choir. Their father challenged them to think about what direction they wanted to pursue and while they considered sports, they began to focus more on sports media after receiving game-related injuries.
Hirsch decided to make the best of their time at Klein College by diving into their passions straight away. On their first day, they introduced themself to Dean David Boardman, who was also starting his first day at the school. Hirsch made sure to keep in contact with Dean Boardman and keep him updated on their professional developments, and this relationship proved itself valuable later on.
Like their father, Hirsch found a love for sports broadcasting and became a play-by-play broadcaster for Temple University's field hockey, soccer, women's basketball and women's lacrosse teams. Throughout their time at Temple, the journalism major also worked in communications with the National Women's Soccer League's (NWSL) Reign FC and Chicago Red Stars as well as the Women's National Basketball Association's (WNBA) Seattle Storm.
As they worked to become a "play-by-play broadcaster extraordinaire in more underrepresented sports," Hirsch realized they wanted to spend more time focusing on production. After graduating, they worked for Major League Baseball as a production assistant and broadcasted with organizations including the NWSL and the Ivy League Network. And because they stayed in touch with Dean Boardman, they informed him of their next steps.
"I spoke to Dean Boardman [and told him] 'I've always wanted to live in Seattle, I have a passion for women's sports, and I really want to work with one of the best WNBA teams out there. Do you know anybody there?'" they say. "And he got me connected and I had my choice of internships from there."
No matter where they find themself sharing their talents, Hirsch's mission is to elevate the voices of others. When they relocated to Seattle, they immediately made that goal the focus of their research and professional work. In addition to their graduate research in diversity, inclusion and equity, their time working with the city of Seattle has allowed them to become familiar with how the city is putting in the effort to make residents of various backgrounds and circumstances feel more welcome.
Hirsch even keeps diversity, inclusion and equity at the forefront of their media production work. They are currently a videographer for the Seattle Sounders, the 2019 champions of the Major League Soccer Cup and the first team Hirsch worked with during a championship. Hirsch has partnered with the team's supporter groups on a graduate research project that publicizes diverse and inclusive media programming for sports communities. Soon, they will produce a sports science video project with the United States women's national soccer team and WNBA athletes for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Hirsch's journey has made them realize that anything is possible for those who are dedicated to their cause. Their advice to Klein College students looking to enter the world of sports media? "Be the biggest question-asker you can be." It leads to championship-level success.