We just can't get enough of the Female Sports Professionals! Today we make way for a lady on the diamond: Jessica Quiroli who offers an elevated view of Minor League Baseball with her blog High Heels On The Field and recently covered high school sports for Ultimate Athlete Magazine. We will learn about how she turned her passion into a writing dream and how she continually proves that women deserve a voice with sports!
How long have you been in the sports industry? Just about seven years.
Please give us a little background on how you got to your current role: I knew I wanted to be a baseball writer many years ago, but didn't know how to go about it. I'm of the generation that could find a way in with hard work and talent. I never got my degree. So it was about taking my little bit of education and building my career from experience. I've been a bulldog in that sense. I'm always looking and taking any assignment no matter how challenging it is. I knew I had a lot to prove.
How did you learn you wanted to get into the sports industry? I'm not sure when it was but I loved baseball and knew so much about it that writing about it came very naturally. I studied ballet and modern
dance and music, but I think the creative part of me was really still searching. Writing was always most natural and gave me the most confidence.
Besides the fact that my knees couldn't handle professional dancing and I had terrible stage fright. It was writing that got me the most attention and praise all my life, so I decided to write about what I loved. My energy gravitated to baseball.
Please let us know who your mentors were/are on your journey. I don't know about mentors, but I learned from reading great writing. There are writers I have had many conversations with that made a huge difference in my life. I would like to acknowledge the first teacher that encouraged my writing. That was sixth grade. He was so impressed with something I wrote he asked to keep it. I always remember that and how much confidence it gave me.
Have you had a personal experience where someone doubted you and you proved to him or her that they should support you? Probably a lot! I'm sure there's been plenty of doubts that I wasn't aware of. But it was really important to me when I felt a genuine respect develop between myself and Trenton Thunder manager Tony Franklin. I have such high regard for him. It's meaningful when you feel respected by people you respect.
Do you think there is a negative ring that automatically lies around females within the sports industry since it’s a male dominated industry? Sure. There's always going to be sexism. But it's not important and it's not personal. People will project their own notions onto you. If I work hard nothing else matters.
What tips or advice would you give to a female wanting to enter the sports industry? Be prepared, be professional, be yourself. Don't let anyone's personal attitudes affect you. You have to be tough to that and not always reactionary. But also know when the line has been crossed. Don't fear going to the proper people and telling them that you've been treated in an unprofessional manner. And this is just a preference, but I'd suggest never discussing your personal life. I think women have to be more protective in this industry and I'm fierce about it. I don't know that people really can say they know me. The writing is all I want them to know. And for a woman in the industry you want to give yourself an edge and try to ensure that the thing they're talking about the most is your work. We've seen what happens to women when things other than their writing/reporting is not what people are talking about it. That scares me so I try to be very private and cautious, and let the writing speak loudest. But let me stress that you must be yourself. Have fun and work hard. It is a great job and I feel so fortunate.
What would you say to the men who don’t see women as being on the same level when it comes to the sports industry? To get over it.
If there were one thing you could change about the sports industry, what would it be? I see a real rise in sports gossip as sports news. I don't care to hear about who a player is sleeping with. It means nothing to me. I also hope that aspiring sportswriters aren't just focusing on the media of today. I hope they read great sports writing from 30 years ago and understand what matters. The craft of sports writing is getting lost.
What is your favorite sports moment or quote?
I still like "it's just practice." That was an Allen Iverson gem.
And I've always loved Jon Updike's quote about baseball: "It is essentially a lonely game."
Favorite moments are countless, professionally and personally.
I remember Mitch Williams toughness after Joe Carter's three-run home run that won it for the Blue Jays in the World Series in 1993. That made a huge impression on me in terms of following my own path as a young person...though I don't think I realized it until I was in the industry and I realized it was a very Philly-type mentality. When you fail on a stage that big and can keep going that says a lot about you as an athlete and person. And it spoke volumes about him as both, even though his career ended not too long after that. It was an attitude that inspired me. Because I still remember his face as he walked off the field. And that takes a lot of heart to not lose your everloving mind.
What is your biggest accomplishment to-date in terms of your experience
in the sports world? My work for Junior Baseball Magazine comes to mind. I've done that for five years as a freelancer. My respect for Roberto Clemente is connected to that because the readers are kids. I was really proud of the story I worked on with several Phillies players including Chase Utley and Brad Lidge. It was about how to deal with umpires as a young player. They gave such tremendous advice that I felt was very important for kids to hear, particularly after so many bad incidents the last few years. I feel very proud of my time covering the Trenton Thunder. That team has meant a lot to me because of the professional relationships I've developed. My writing also improved in that time and I know that. Also working with the commissioner of the Can-Am League to implement a no-discrimination policy in the clubhouse in 2004. And I am very proud of my minor league blog. I've put my whole heart into it.
What are your favorite sport sites online?
I read MILB.com first thing everyday.
I have to say I read a ton of sites from links on Twitter. I go there and get a wealth of information everyday from national writers,sites, and newspapers.
Favorite sports quote? "All that counts is tomorrow's game." Roberto
Clemente said that and it applies to everything in life.
Any advice for the LadyBallers?
To steal from Billy Joel: Don't take any sh**.
Huge thanks to Jessica for sharing her insights and passions!
Check out our previous Female Sports Professional interviews as well:
Melissa Miller: Assistant Brand Manager for the Orlando Magic
Amber Anderson: Grassroots Marketing Coordinator for the Orlando Magic
Kathryn Stuart: Course Director, Sports Management and Operations - Entertainment Business Masters Program at FullSail University