By Erik Hall 

Lila Bromberg, a recent University of Maryland graduate, aspires to one day be a feature writer for a national publication. 

Even before graduating college, Bromberg already has assembled well-written feature stories under her byline. 

It was Bromberg’s feature stories on the lack of NHL diversity and how Maryland football prioritizes mental health along with a story covering a Maryland basketball conference tournament win that earned her first place in the 2021 Associated Press Sports Editors student contest. 

Bromberg will be presented a first-place plaque at the 2021 APSE Summer Conference Banquet at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas on Aug. 18.

She is the first University of Maryland student to win the contest since it started in 2017. 

“It feels really great,” Bromberg said of taking first place. “I put a lot of work into those stories, and so it’s definitely a huge honor for me.” 

Bromberg said her favorite story of the trio she submitted is the Maryland football story about mental health. She said she spent three to four months reporting on it. 

“It’s a topic that is extremely important and something that hadn’t really been talked about within the football program before,” Bromberg said. “And you know, it was a story that was kind of emotionally taxing and draining but was definitely something that was really worth it and that I’m really proud of.”

Bromberg graduated in May from Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism. She is set to split the summer between an internship with Sports Illustrated and spending three weeks at the Tokyo Olympics working for the Olympic Information Service. 

Previous winners of the APSE Student Contest are George Stoia (University of Oklahoma), 2019 and 2020; Kelli Stacy (University of Oklahoma), 2018; and Emily Giambalvo (University of Georgia), 2017. 

Judges praise Bromberg’s work

Four of the 12 judges for the student contest cast a first-place vote for Bromberg’s work. Here are what those judges said: 

Nick Feely of The Villages Daily Sun: One major thing stuck out to me across Lila’s entry: Emotion. She took emotional and important topics such as racism in hockey culture and mental health among college athletes and not only brought those topics to the public eye through her writing but used her in-depth reporting to allow sources to share the emotions from within those stories, as well. She displayed a wide variety of writing and reporting skills across all three submission categories, showing off the flexibility to adapt her writing tone and style to fit each individual story.

Amy Friedenberg of The Roanoke (Virginia) Times: Lila’s stories about the lack of diversity in hockey and the Maryland football program’s emphasis on mental health both stood out for her ability to get people to open up to her on two difficult issues. She used comprehensive sourcing to add depth to the reporting that made the stories informative and interesting to read. It’s clear she researched her topics and devoted time to talking to the people in her stories.

Rachel Lenzi of the Buffalo News: Lila wrote about timely issues and took unique approaches to each article and cast a wide net/utilized lots of voices and perspectives. This was especially obvious in her piece on the lack of diversity in hockey, which is almost a lily-white sport — and there is not enough acknowledgment of this fact.  

Dillon Thompson of Yahoo: Through her submissions, Lila has shown that she understands something fundamental about sports journalism — that ultimately, it’s the people who make the stories work. Lila’s articles are well-written, well-researched and well-reported, but above all, her work exceeded the rest because it always put human beings first.  

2021 APSE Student Contest Top 10

There were 32 students who entered the 2021 APSE Student Contest. Each of the 12 judges individually chose a top 10 and ranked them. The winner and final rankings are determined by tallying the ballots.

Here are the final ranking of the top 10 with links to the stories entered: 

1. Lila Bromberg, Maryland — 67 points, 4 first-place votes | 1 2 3

2. Adam Cole, Missouri — 65 points | 1 2 3

3. Lia Assimakopoulos, Northwestern — 63 points, 2 first-place votes | 1 2 3

4. Bennett Durando, Missouri — 59 points, 3 first-place votes | 1 2 3

5. Peter Warren, Northwestern — 49 points, 1 first-place vote | 1 2 3

6. Eli Hoff, Missouri — 47 points | 1 2 3

T7. Matt Cohen, Indiana — 40 points, 1 first-place vote | 1 2 3

T7. Aria Gerson, Michigan — 40 points | 1 2 3

9. Aidan Bea, Texas State — 23 points | 1 2 3

10. Christina Long, Missouri — 22 points, 1 first-place vote | 1 2 3

Students submitted three entries as a portfolio. The portfolio consisted of three elements: (a) a feature or enterprise story, (b) an event or game coverage story (this can include a column or sidebar), and (c) a wild-card entry, which can be from the above categories or something else. 

Entries came from undergraduate or graduate students enrolled at a college or university during summer 2020, fall 2020 or spring 2021 academic terms. Work came from the period of April 10, 2020, through April 10, 2021.

Erik Hall is a lead digital producer for sports with the USA Today Network. You can find him on Twitter @HallErik or at