Spotlighting women in media across the CFL

Like Beyonce said, who runs the world? Girls. Which really is the truth.

Today is International Women’s Day, where we take the opportunity to celebrate the incredible women that surround us in our lives. Whether it’s our mothers, sisters, coworkers, neighbours or anyone in between, we take this day to relish in their accomplishments.

It’s also a chance to acknowledge the women who came before us that paved the way and those in front of us that will be looking for guidance to achieve their dreams.

To celebrate this year, I wanted to shine a light on the women in and around the CFL that cover our league so greatly. These are the ones that are on broadcasts, are writing for digital publications or newspapers or facilitate media appearances for their teams’ players, helping to tell their stories.

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Let’s start in the West Coast and make our way across the country.

Karen Surman was the BC Lions sideline reporter before the unfortunate cancellation of TSN1040. But when she was on air, she was one of the best in the business. There’s no way she’ll be a free agent for very long. Next up is Gemma Karstens-Smith who is a reporter for The Canadian Press based in Vancouver. Karstens-Smith also covers the Lions but she does so with her exquisite writing. And don’t forget about Alex Ruiz, who is the Lions’ Manager of Digital Platforms and Social Media, and is top-notch at ensuring BC’s fans are as close to the team as possible on their social channels.

As we continue, we arrive in Calgary, where two exceptional women cover the Calgary Stampeders. First is Alanna Nolan, who not only is absolutely amazing at her position as the Stamps’ host and reporter, but she also doubles as the host for the Calgary Flames. Another reporter for The Canadian Press is Donna Spencer, who uses her incredible way with words to report on the club, bringing fans close to their favourite team and players.

Moving on to Edmonton, Quinn Phillips is a reporter covering the Edmonton Football Team for Global. Phillips’ storytelling ability is always on full display as shines a light on the Green and Gold.

Now travelling to Saskatchewan, where there are two women that I want to focus on in Regina. The first is Arielle Zerr, the Director of Communications for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. After transitioning from a radio reporter covering the Riders, Zerr is now an integral part of Saskatchewan’s coverage in the media. She’s the one facilitating Zoom conference calls, sending press releases and making sure the players are in the right spot for any appearances. Second is Claire Hanna, who is the woman on the sidelines on TSN during Roughriders broadcasts, covering the team all week in practice and then bringing those stories to life on game day.

Now onto Winnipeg, where Judy Owen does a fantastic job holding down the fort for The Canadian Press covering the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. And last, but certainly not least, is Sara Orlesky, who covers the Bombers and the Winnipeg Jets for TSN. Sara’s incredible on-air presence is top notch and has been my inspiration as I started getting into sports journalism.

If there’s one thing that unites all of these women across the country is excellence, as they all do a phenomenal job covering the league that we all know and love.

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