Meet a Husker: Hailey Ryerson

Hailey Ryerson is a junior sports media & communications and broadcasting double major with a minor in HRTM from Woodbine, Iowa. On the sidelines, Hailey is building her skills, exploring passions and helping tell the stories of women in the sports industry.

Throughout her time at UNL, she has completed an internship with the Nebraska Athletic Department in Event Management, serves as the Vice President for the Student Advisory Board for the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, is an anchor and feature reporter for Nebraska Nightly, and has worked for Fox Sports in the FS1 Studio Shows and Production and Talent Development. She currently does broadcasts for 90.3 KRNU and Big Ten Network+.

What originally interested you in sports media and communication?

I originally came to UNL to do more sports management, but after interning with Fox Sports FS1 Studio Shows and my broadcasting classes, I wanted to work more on the broadcasting side of the industry. In high school, I was involved in the fine arts and was an athlete, and this was a way to combine both of my passions!

Talk a little bit about being a woman working in sports.

Sports journalism is one of the most difficult fields for women to enter, but the exciting thing is there are so many women coming up and are in the field currently. We now have role models to look up to for women who have paved the way in the field. Getting to work in sports and go to a school like Nebraska, which has one of the best atmospheres and athletic departments in the country, is a great privilege. I’m grateful for the men and women who have taken a chance on me.

You co-host a podcast sharing your experience working in the sports industry. What do you hope to accomplish through this podcast?

My friend Megan Cook and I started this podcast when COVID-19 hit, and all sports were shut down. It was hard to find opportunities and gain experience, but podcasting was an easy way to connect and continue to work. I found so much joy in working with Megan and in the collaboration we got to have with one another. We wanted to highlight women in the sports industry, and it was a great way to connect and get advice. Many of the guests we interviewed went to Nebraska, including Allie Snow and Erin Sorensen.

Last year you were part of UNL’s first all-female sports broadcast (alongside fellow Huskers Caroline Franke and Molly Robinson). What did that experience mean for you?

John Shrader, the Sports Media and Communications program coordinator, was the reason we got to have this experience. He has always been an advocate for women and giving us opportunities. He’s been a mentor for all three of us, and I’m certainly grateful to have him at the College of Journalism. To get to do a broadcast not just with your classmates but your friends was special. I’ve known Molly and Caroline since freshman year and to get to work with people that make you better and push you out of your comfort zone, that’s what you want. I have a lot of respect for how hard they work, and their talent really shines at Nebraska.

What do you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?

Haha that’s a hard question to answer as there are many goals, and I want to do as many things as possible in my career. In sports, my goal would be to end up with Fox Sports for on-air talent in sideline reporting or in the studio. I want to also get into film and television and be able to direct or run a production company. What I hope is to be able to open doors for other women and make a beneficial impact.

What inspires you?

Ambition and thinking about “what’s next” have always been what inspires me. When I see or read about people who are full of ambition, it gets me excited. I want to continue being in rooms with people who lead conversations and make decisions. I got to do that with the next generation of leaders in the FOX Internship Program, which broadened my view of the work that is being created by students across the country.

Who are your role models?

There have been so many people who have come into my life and impacted me both personally and professionally. Growing up in a small town, I had so many incredible female role models who led with compassion and kindness first. My mom has always been my number one influence as she presents herself with class and grace. I’ve tried to emulate that and want to set that example as well.

Professionally, I’ve had the privilege of working, shadowing, or interviewing Jenny Taft, Annelle Despaignes, Laura Okmin, Lisa Byington, and Holly Rowe. Three of them work for Fox Sports, and all are at the top of their game in the industry.

What is your advice to other students looking to make an impact?

There are many ways students can make an impact inside and outside the classroom. Start with identifying your interests and passions. If you’re passionate about something, it’s easy to be motivated. Try different organizations or classes to discover new interests, and don’t be afraid to fail because you’re in college for a reason.

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