Women in Sports: Local Leaders in the Industry That We Admire

Written by:

With March being Women’s History Month, we wanted to highlight as many trailblazing women as possible, and women in the sports industry continue to make history daily. Whether on the field, behind the scenes, or on the sidelines – there are trailblazers all around us. With 15+ major sports leagues and teams in the NJ/NYC area – there are some women right in our Hoboken/Jersey City neighborhood making their mark in a male-dominated industry {and we couldn’t be more proud}. To celebrate all of their accomplishments, Hoboken Girl spoke with some of these Hudson County locals who work in the sports industry to relive their successes, discuss how the industry is embracing women, and what they hope to see going forward. Read on to hear from these inspiring women working within the sports industry. 

Ashley Atwell

Senior Director of Social Content, NBA

Ashley Atwell

At the NBA, Ashley oversees the NBA Social Content publishing team {who manages @NBA and other official league accounts} across all social platforms.

Hoboken Girl: What was your inspiration behind breaking into the sports industry?

Ashley Atwell: My parents, because they always supported me and my goals. Growing up, I was active in sports and watched a lot of sports with my dad. When I was in high school, my dad and I were watching a football game together and the sports reporter came on and I turned to him and said ‘maybe I could be a sports reporter one day’. Ever since then, my parents helped to guide and advise me through the decisions I made as I went through college and pursued a career in sports.

HG: Do you have any women that you look up to in the sports industry?

AA: I met Maria Taylor at an SEC school alumni event {I went to Alabama} when she was first hired at SEC Network towards the start of her career. Ever since then, I’ve followed her career as she continued to move up to new positions. She is incredible at her job, stands up for herself, speaks her mind, and has so much poise. I love that she frequently wears sneakers on the job. She also has everyone’s dream job – working on ESPN College GameDay!

HG: What advice do you have for those trying to break into the sports industry?

AA: It takes A LOT of hard work, dedication, and passion. You will work long days, nights, weekends, holidays and you have to prepare yourself for the large workload you will have. While a job in sports takes an incredible amount of dedication, the work can be extremely rewarding – and fun! If it’s your dream, you absolutely have to go for it and don’t give up until you get the job you want!

HG: What was one of your favorite moments in your career?

AA: It’s one of the more recent NBA Finals – the 2019 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors. The atmosphere in Toronto was electric as they were on the verge of their first NBA Championship. It was awesome to see the pure joy the fans had and to hear their pride every time the Canadian National Anthem was performed. It was a rewarding experience to create content throughout the event and witness it in person.

HG: Favorite local spot?

AA: Tosti in Hoboken. They have my favorite breakfast sandwich, the Tosti’s Sandwich. I can’t wait for each weekend when I treat myself to it!


Samantha Strejeck

Social Media Operations + Live Content Correspondents, NFL

Samantha Strejeck

Sam is currently in her third season working at the NFL, managing the league’s Live Content Correspondents Program, consisting of nearly 90 content creators {photographers, and videographers} across all 32 NFL clubs. Sam also helps develop social media ideas, plans, and best practices that support key calendar initiatives and events.

Hoboken Girl: What was your inspiration behind breaking into the sports industry?

Samantha Strejeck: Sports have been a constant in my life since I can remember. Sports brings comradery to families, friends, and even strangers like no other. I learned this early, as I supported my brother all throughout his football career through college. In my career, I have covered many pre-game fan-based events and it is so refreshing to see alliances created for the support of one team and the friendly competition to those supporting another. It wasn’t until college until I realized how I could make a career out of it.

HG: Do you see more or fewer women becoming involved in the sports industry?

SS: I’m seeing more women becoming involved in the sports industry. As times are changing the workplace is becoming more accepting of women in male-dominant roles. Every year the gender gap is closing and because of that men are seeing women as coequal. 

HG: Do you have any women that you look up to in the sports industry?

SS: A female role model is not defined by her career, in my opinion. She is someone who has confidence and sees value in herself. When I see women in the sports community, we support each other and inspire each other by the stories we share. It’s a unique bond that young women looking to break into the sports industry can look forward to being a part of. You deserve a career you love.

HG: What was one of your favorite moments in your career?

SS: Super Bowl LIV in Miami was my favorite, all-encompassing moment thus far in my career. Being able to go and work on the biggest stage in sports was surreal. It was a week-long event where my job was to manage 15 content creators capturing photo and video content. I have such incredible gratitude for having this opportunity. It was a moment of true clarity that I was on the right career path.

HG: Favorite local spot?

SS: Roost Outpost, JP’s Bagel Express, and Zack’s Oak Bar and Restaurant!


Brynn Sussman

Manager of Entertainment + Creative Content, NHL

Brynn Sussman

At the NHL, Brynn has a wide range of responsibilities in her role – from content creation and original programming, to live event production and talent/stage manager. All with the overarching goal of getting hockey in front of as many eyes as possible.

Hoboken Girl: What was your inspiration behind breaking into the sports industry?

Brynn Sussman: My father has worked in sports his entire life, so growing up I was able to get a behind-the-scenes look at the industry and I was instantly hooked!

HG: Do you have any women that you look up to in the sports industry?

BS: Absolutely. Ranging from those on the court/field to those in the front office. Regardless of position, it is always inspiring to see other women being a ‘boss’ and running the show. Megan Rapinoe stands out to me; she is outspoken in her beliefs, uses her platform, and on top of it – is an incredible athlete.

HG: What was one of your favorite moments in your career?

BS: My favorite moments are anytime family/friends can attend an event our group produces. It’s always hard to explain to others why you deal with the long hours and miss special family time at home for work to those that aren’t in it. But when you can watch them enjoy the event/content that you’ve spent so much time on, it comes full circle and is that much more rewarding. 

HG: What is one thing you’d want people to know about your career choice?

BS: Within my role, I have the luxury of meeting many different people, from many different walks of life and do so all under the umbrella of sports. From working with the top hockey players on the planet to Grammy-award winners, every day provides a unique challenge and no day is quite like the one before it. Working in sports has open doors for me that make the long hours and countless hotel rooms feel more than worth it.

HG: Favorite local spot?

BS: Luna Rosa in Hoboken!


Madison Bess

Digital Marketing Manager, Tipico Sportsbook

Madison Bess

Madison works as a Digital Marketing Manager for Tipico Sportsbook. Tipico is a New Jersey licensed, legal U.S. sportsbook, and is one of the top sports betting companies worldwide. Some of Madison’s responsibilities consist of managing and posting on Tipico’s social accounts, creating and writing SEO and blog pages on the Tipico website, and more.

Hoboken Girl: What was your inspiration behind breaking into the sports industry?

Madison Bess: Definitely my internship opportunities and background playing sports. I did gymnastics for 14 years and then ended up rowing at Ithaca College, so sports have always been a passion of mine. I got my first sports internship the summer going into my junior year of college as a production intern at the NHL. After that first internship, I knew I wanted to stay in sports. The summer going into my senior year I was a broadcast intern for the United States Golf Association, and then during my senior year, I lived in Stamford, CT for about a month working for NBC Sports as a Scripts PA for curling for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

HG: Do you see more or fewer women becoming involved in the sports industry?

MB: While there are still drastically fewer women than men in the sports industry, I do see gradual movement. I think the reason why more women are becoming involved in the sports industry is that they feel more welcome than ever before.

HG: Do you have any women that you look up to in the industry?

MB: Yes, I have many women I look up to in the sports industry. I applaud and look up to 265+ women that came out against Larry Nassar in the gymnastics world, including Rachael Joy Denhollander, Aly Raisman, Maggie Nichols, Jordyn Wieber and so many more. What they did takes strength, bravery, honesty, and vulnerability. I look up to Serena Williams because she is strong and fierce and has shown that females can be mothers and professional athletes at the same time. 

HG: What are some positive experiences that you’ve had during your career?

MB: I have had so many positive experiences as a woman during my career in sports. At my internship with the USGA, I had the opportunity to travel to Erin Hills, Wisconsin for the U.S. Open. I was fortunate enough to be employed at Tipico during the pandemic, and I am so blessed to be a Digital Marketing Manager because I have so many responsibilities, love the people I work with, and absolutely love what I do.


Megan Gruttadaurio

Director of Ticketing and Marketing, Gazelle Group 

Megan Gruttadaurio

Megan’s job is at a sports marketing company that owns and operates college basketball events. Megan works with the venues and teams to sell tickets, market the events to the fan bases and general public, and attempt to sell out the Madison Square Garden {and they have come close!}

Hoboken Girl: What was your inspiration behind breaking into the sports industry? 

Megan Gruttadaurio: For as long as I can remember, sports have been intertwined with my life. Growing up in Cleveland, sports were everything. Win or lose {and for most of my life, it has been losing} the community would come together and rally behind its teams. Sports brought a sense of comradery and purpose to the city. It is that passion and excitement that made me want to work in the sports industry. 

HG: Do you see more or fewer women becoming involved in the industry?

MG: I do think more women are becoming more involved in the sports industry because our involvement is shifting to be normalized. We have such amazing role models of women breaking barriers in the industry. Recently we have witnessed women become assistant coaches in the NBA and NFL, named General Manager in the MLB, and referee at the Super Bowl. It’s incredible to be able to follow in their footsteps and continue to develop in the industry.

HG: What was one of your favorite moments in your career?

MG: It goes without saying 2020 changed the way the sports industry had to operate. Typically my company would run two major college basketball tournaments at Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center. Instead, we partnered with a similar company to ours to create “Bubbleville”: 10 days of games featuring five different tournaments. It was a long 14 days in Bubbleville – not going outside, all meals in styrofoam takeout containers, 16 hour days, and seven covid tests – but I wouldn’t change a thing. It was completely out of my comfort zone and the toughest two weeks of my career, but such a historic and unforgettable experience. 


Taylor Duncan

Associate Manager of Direct to Consumer, NBA

Taylor Duncan

In her fourth year at the NBA, Taylor works in the Direct to Consumer department at the league. Supporting the owned-and-operated digital products, while also working to create an innovative, direct-to-consumer experience. Prior to joining the digital space, Taylor also worked in content production at the NBA.

Hoboken Girl: What was your inspiration behind breaking into the sports industry?

Taylor Duncan: Sports were my life growing up. From playing volleyball, softball, and basketball – to living vicariously through my brother’s Friday Night Lights experience in high school – our family has always communicated through sports. My Dad was not only my coach but my mentor and best friend because of our bond through athletics. The excitement, competition, passion, and comradery couldn’t end just because I was done playing. The challenge was now: how do I make this a career?

HG: Do you see more or fewer women becoming involved in the industry?

TD: More, 100 percent. We are witnessing women making history daily in the sports industry, and blazing the trail for future generations. While it’s inspiring to see more women breaking into the industry, we must continue to push for the development and acceptance of female workers in this male-dominated industry.

HG: Do you have any women that you look up to in the industry?

TD: So many. It is the countless women that I work with day-to-day and those that I’ve encountered in my career that inspires me the most. Women in the sports community have such a special bond – and I’ve made some wonderful friendships while receiving some amazing mentors along the way. The support these women provide, and the stories that we are able to share with each other means the world – and it constantly pushes you to do better.

HG: Advice for young women trying to break into the sports industry?

TD: Be confident in yourself, your knowledge, and your values. Work hard, and don’t give up if it gets tough. There are going to be long hours, there are going to be road trips, and there will always be room for growth. But it’s all worth it when you achieve your goals in a career that you love. 

HG: Favorite local spot?

TD: The Hive, Northern Soul, The Shep, Little City Books, and so many more in Hoboken!

EMAIL BUTTONS


Written by:

Taylor is an {overly} proud Jersey girl, who has been lucky enough to call Hoboken home for the last three years, and Jersey City for two prior. Originally from a small town in Hunterdon County, Taylor received her degree in multimedia journalism from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. She also spent some time in Miami, but always knew she’d find her way to Hoboken. Taylor has a career in sports, digital, and social media strategy in the NYC area. A lover of all things local, she has a long list of favorite restaurants and coffee shops where she spends a good chunk of her time. You can also catch her running on the waterfront, walking her new pup, watching reruns of Real Housewives, or making a trip to HomeGoods