Happy Female Sports Professional Monday LadyBaller fans! Today we have a northerner holding it down in AC, NJ! Susan Lulgjuraj has been in the sports industry for roughly 12 years and is currently a staff writer at the Press of Atlantic City. She covers everything from the Philadelphia Phillies to local sports with an occasional poker story throw in there, I mean come on, she rocks Atlantic City, it's a must!
Please give us a little background on how you got to your current role: I saw the job listed on JournalismJobs.com and I applied. They loved an article I did on the Yankee Stadium Bleacher Creatures, where I spent a good portion of my teens and early 20s. I interviewed for the job the day of Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS with the Yankees against the Red Sox. I told them I couldn’t stay long because I have a ticket in my pocket burning a hole (Yankee Stadium was two hours away). By the time I got back to New York, I believe the Yankees were already down 6-0. I went home instead and crossed my fingers that I got the job.
How did you learn you wanted to get into the sports industry?
I thought I wanted to be a doctor since I was a child. I read anatomy and physiology books in my spare time because I wanted to learn as much as I can. When I was in high school, I realized how much I hated chemistry and knew there were going to be plenty classes in med school on that and immediately changed plans. I thought to myself: What do I love? The answer was easy: writing and sports.
What was the first step you took to get into the sports industry?
I emailed other reporters and editors asking for guidance. They told me to read and write as much as I could. So I joined the high school and college newspapers and wrote as much as I could. Then, contacted weeklies and smaller papers to get freelance jobs.
Was there a time or situation that made you second-guess your path?
The last 2-3 years have not been easy with the way the financial situation has been at most newspapers. If I were at a different paper, I might have been more concerned, but I really do work for a great company that has been able to ease that burden.
Do you think there is a negative ring that automatically lies around females within the sports industry since it’s a male dominated industry?
I walk into a press box and my immediate thought is that no one here thinks I know what I am talking about. Some of the guys might think that way and some of them may not, but what I learned is that is has nothing to do with sports. I think there are going to be people that are like this in any industry. And when I learn of the people who think I need to prove myself over my male counterparts, well, those are the people I know I won’t be going to lunch with. Many people in this industry respect me just as I respect them. I don’t concern myself with the ones that don’t.
What tips or advice would you give to a female wanting to enter the sports industry?
Be yourself. I like to laugh and make jokes. I like seeing the lighter side of things and I noticed that sources are more receptive to that. Also don’t ask the same questions everyone else is asking. As a woman, you have an advantage where you can probably ask more personal questions than your male counterpart can. Use that to your advantage to get better stories and dig deeper.
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?
I hope your divorce goes smoothly.
Have you had a personal experience where someone doubted you and you proved to him or her that they should support you?
Besides the times I doubt myself? Yes. One of my first editors didn’t think I had what it took to do this job and he told me that flat out. A few years later, I won the NJPA (New Jersey Press Association) sports portfolio beating out writers from the top newspapers in the state. The person who came in second place happened to be a top columnist for the first paper I worked where the editor told I didn’t have what it took. That felt pretty good.
If there were one thing you could change about the sports industry, what would it be?
What is your favorite sports moment?
I can’t think of one. But spending the summers at Yankee Stadium with people I consider friends are a mountain of memories I will always cherish.
What is your biggest accomplishment to-date in terms of your experience in the sports world?
The NJPA award. One of the articles I wrote that year was right from the heart. I cried while writing and didn’t want anyone to read it because it was personal.
Do you have a favorite player/team?
I grew up in NY. I like most NY teams (not the Mets).
Any advice for female fans or female sports professionals?
Just love it. Ignore everything else and just love what you’re doing whether it’s writing about your favorite team or sitting in the box seats.
Check out our previous Female Sports Professional interviews as well:
Lauren Shehadi: CBSSports.com/CBS College Sports Network Anchor and Reporter
Alana Glass: Founder & Owner of http://www.iwanttobeanowner.com/
Claire Wright: Previously with the Orlando Magic and now Events Manager with Central Florida Sports Commission.
Mahogany Ratcliffe: Co-creator & co-host of Bad Girls of Sports
Jennifer Taglione: Founder and owner of Stiletto Sports
Jennifer Rodriguez: Co-creator & co-host of Bad Girls of Sports
Justine Brown: Production-Assistant with the NFL Network
Jessica Quiroli: Baseball blogger and covers high school sports for Ultimate Athlete Magazine
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 - Masters Program at FullSail University
Are you a female interested in sharing your Professional Sports experience or know a female who would be good to feature? Email us and let us know!