Dennis Freeman grew up in an abusive home. He is a high school dropout. For a decade he worked as a janitor at Los Angeles County USC-Medical Center cleaning toilets and washing down operating rooms.
“The pressure of making deadline is tough,” he says. “But surviving the pressure of cleaning and moppingup someone’s brains and guts in an emergency room or trying to escape abuse is a lot tougher.”
Freeman, sports editor of the Beverly Hills Times in California, is one of four mid-career professionals who have been chosen for the inaugural class of APSE’s Diversity Fellowship Program.
The four Fellows have embarked on a nine-month course of study that is meant to further prepare them as strong candidates for management positions in the nation’s sports departments.
The class itself is diverse. Freeman, who fought his way to junior college and eventually Howard University, has not followed the typical career path of a sports journalist. “Wisdom comes in all forms,” he says. And he’s right.
Joining him are Ed Guzman, Sports Copy Chief of the Washington Post; Carrie Cousins, Night Sports Editor of the Roanoke (Va.) Times; and Adena Andrews, a writer for ESPN-W.
A strong field of about two dozen journalists applied for the Diversity Fellowship Program, which I announced in Boston.
The four already have begun their fellowship experience by serving as members of the judging committees working this year’s APSE web contest.
Next up is a weekend in Indianapolis where they will hone their public speaking and teaching skills as they each present a seminar focused on professional development. In addition, they’ll be learning from faculty members at APSE’s partner, Indiana University, and doing field work from an Indianapolis Colts game.
After completing their web judging duties at the end of the year, the Fellows will be joining membership at our winter conference in February in Orlando. The Diversity Fellowship Program also includes participation in APSE’s Sports Management Program, the Sports Journalism Institute, the summer conference in Chicago and the professional development day for each Fellow’s region.
Freeman, in fact, won’t have much time to rest as the West Region’s development day takes place just a week after his return from Indiana.
And that’s the point. The in-depth, rigorous training these Fellows receive will prepare them to take a substantive leap forward in their careers as part of an overall push toward improving diversity by APSE, which also has launched a Diversity Board on our website.
These efforts and our extensive professional education opportunities are at the core of what APSE does.