Hofstra Athletics and Title IX: Anne Marie Anderson

As the Department of Athletics at Hofstra University celebrates the 50th anniversary of the passing of Title IX, we will honor, recognize and inform our university community about some of the Pride members who helped make a difference in Hofstra and paved the way for the current student-athletes, coaches, administrators and teams. Until the June 23 anniversary of the passing of Title IX, Hofstra Athletics will feature many individuals who played a role in bringing about change or those whose experiences at Hofstra were enhanced by the efforts of those who came before them.

Title IX is a federal civil rights law in the United States of America that was passed as part (Title IX) of the Education Amendments of 1972. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any school or other educational program that receives funding from the federal government .

Please consider a gift to commemorate and support the 50th anniversary of Title IX! All proceeds from this campaign will go directly to our hofstra Athletics Pride Club account for women’s athletics.

This week, we feature a Q&A with former Hofstra volleyball student and athlete Anne Marie Anderson (nee Jeffords).

Anderson, formed in 1988 by Hofstra, was a member of the Flying Dutchwomen from 1985 to 1988. A Co-Most Valuable Player from 1988, she also served as the team’s captain. Anderson ranks eighth all-time in Hofstra in total blocks with 346, seventh all-time in block solos, and ninth all-time in show history with 148 matches played.

Since graduating from Hofstra, Anderson has shone in her professional career as a sports broadcaster. While a student at Hofstra, she worked for SportsChannel and started her career at ESPN. In addition to ESPN, Anderson has also worked for ABC, CBS, and NBC. She won three Emmy Awards and was part of six Olympic Games broadcasts. She is one of the most experienced and versatile women’s broadcasters across the country.

Anderson is a highly regarded speaker and emcee who regularly delivers speeches in a variety of formats, from college commencement speeches to national championship awards banquets and corporate team sessions about her experiences working with some of the world’s elite athletes and teams. and how corporations, schools, and individuals can apply similar processes to their own lives.

P: You had an outstanding career playing for the Hofstra volleyball team under the direction of Hall of Fame head coach Fran Kalafer. What life lessons has Coach Kalafer instilled in all of you when it comes to Title IX and the women in the sport who have helped you throughout your professional career?

ONE: I was lucky to have Fran Kalafer as my coach in Hofstra and Cindy Lewis as our athletic director. These two women shaped my attitude and belief system in terms of how I behave in the world more than I ever could have predicted. Coach Kalafer taught me a lot, including a phrase I use at least once a week. In my second year at Hofstra, as we were voting for team captain, Fran looked me in the eye and said, “if you don’t vote for yourself, don’t expect anyone else to.” THIS messed with me. I was a sophomore who thought “who am I to be a captain?” But I also knew I could lead and it wasn’t about age. I voted for myself and another teammate and was de facto co-captain that year. That moment, while perhaps seemingly insignificant, helped me throughout my life as I applied for positions in my television career. VOTE FOR YOU! If you think you’re more qualified, make it known, take your chances and make your case. I repeat “if you don’t vote for yourself, don’t expect anyone else to” so many times to young women and men who are stretching their limits as they climb the corporate ladder.

P: You started your career in sports broadcasting in the childhood of women in this profession. Who were some of your mentors and what led you to choose this career?

ONE: I knew very early in my life – maybe when I was 10 or 11 – that I wanted to be a sports journalist. I recently found my 7th grade creative writing journal and it’s covered in athlete photos and clips from Sports Illustrated. It’s remarkable now when I look back and see this and know that I was lucky enough to follow my childhood dream for the last 35 years. I have four older brothers with whom I watched and played sports with constant growth. I have vivid memories of sitting with my dad when I was young watching the Denver Broncos game. I didn’t have any mentors when I started my sports television career precisely because we were so few, but I did have men (my father and brothers among them) who never seemed to question my path. As my career has progressed, I do have a number of dear friends and colleagues that I have been inspired by: Robin Roberts, who has always pushed beyond her comfort zone to take on various roles of anchor, reporter, play-by-play announcer, and now anchor on Good Morning America. Robin is always thinking about the future and has a production company. Shelley Smith is an ESPN reporter based in Los Angeles and taught me how to be versatile. Shelley was originally a sports journalist who moved into television. She is one of the most intrepid reporters I know, who has expanded into new sports and roles, including secondary reporting and the author of several books. Dana Jacobson, who now works for CBS on The Morning Show, was a young local reporter in Sacramento when we first met. She is the epitome of a grinder. You say “no” and she hears “not yet” and got her a dream role on CBS. I observe, learn and lean on these women when I am facing a new challenge to overcome the limits that have occasionally been placed on me by others.

P: Looking back on your career and the evolution of women in sports broadcasting, how do you feel the profession has evolved and what else do you think needs to be done?

ONE: When I started my ESPN career in 1989, shortly after graduating from Hofstra, it seemed like there were two potential roles for women in front of the cameras in sports television: reporter or anchor. I didn’t know much back then about women behind the camera, but after joining the network, I noticed that women were producers, but not usually in high-level executive roles. Now women are analysts, executives, reporters, anchors, essayists, presenters, piece-by-piece broadcasters and more. There is, however, much more that needs to be done. I’d like to see a female head of a major sports network. I would like to see more women in the C-suite. We need more women directing, running cameras and other tech positions. The goal for all of us women in sports broadcasting is that when we occupy a position traditionally held by a man (NBA announcer pxp e.g. Lisa Byington/Kate Scott) we are not advertised as “female pxp” but just ” game by game”. When we lose the “female” distinction that will be a big win in my head.

P: Being around amazing female athletes on a regular basis in your current role – what has been the most rewarding part of that as it relates to seeing opportunities for women in sport now?

ONE: The most rewarding part of my career in terms of evolving female athletes is watching how they behave in the world. These athletes take up SPACE. I covered the WNBA for six years and watched W players impact the Senate race by championing what they believe is inspiring. They created change with their voices. I’ve seen so many women playing college sports use their platform to spark conversations about race, inequality, poverty and mental health in a way I could never have imagined as an athlete. The women on the court, pool, field and field are now a political and social FORCE that makes me very excited to witness the future.

P: As a mother, how do you educate your children about Title IX and the ongoing fight for opportunities for women and girls in sport?

ONE: I am a mother of three children – two boys and a girl. As they watched me build my career throughout their lives, they naturally invested in sports that both women and men play. We never refer to it as “women’s basketball” or “women’s football” in my house. It’s the same game and they know it. My kids came with me to work when invited by the coach and watched practices, movie sessions and games. I wanted them to see women compete, lead, coach, fail, succeed and thrive. When Tara Vanderveer – Stanford’s women’s basketball coach – became the most successful coach in women’s basketball, they were stuck on screen celebrating the achievement. The stories about how women can’t play sports in college are completely incomprehensible to them because they grew up knowing only a life where girls and women can do it. That said, they were surprised last year to see the inequality between the weight rooms at the men’s and women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament facilities and led to a familiar discussion about how much more room there is to achieve true equality. I let the boys know that it’s not just a task for women, but a responsibility for men and women to work together to demand these opportunities and support.

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