A year ago, Emmy-award winning sports broadcaster Laura Okmin brought her GALvanize bootcamp to the Bolts for the second time since 2015.
But late last month, the third time was the charm, as Okmin and her group came to Hoag Performance Center for the second consecutive year.
GALvanize is a program Okmin founded in 2012 that provides bootcamps, workshops and media training to pro sports players and coaches as well as women aspiring to have careers in the sports broadcasting industry, like the 22 reporters she brought with her to L.A.
Okmin paired each reporter with a rookie, or in some cases, two. The groups spent the day interviewing one another and eating lunch together before the women interviewed their partner one-on-one in a formal, sit-down setting. The process of getting to know each other is something that is of the utmost importance to Okmin and greatly benefits both the reporters and the players.
"It's gold," Okmin said. "I always think about just how wonderful it would be if every reporter and every player, before they got stuck in the most unnatural, uncomfortable position of sticking a microphone in their face, if they had an opportunity to sit together and get to know each other. It's not only just the reporters getting to know the players, but my favorite part of those exercises is (teaching) empathy; where the reporters get to be interviewed by the players. I want the players to feel how awkward it is to lead a conversation. It's not as easy as it looks to have to stand there and listen and be part of a genuine conversation. But I love when the girls have to see how hard it is to be vulnerable."
Besides helping her reporters develop their skills, Okmin's ultimate philosophy through GALvanize is to empower these women.
It's a program that goes hand-in-hand with the Los Angeles Chargers, as they've been true advocates of supporting women in the sports industry.
Chargers Assistant Athletic Trainer/Physical Therapist Allison Miner is one of only six female athletic trainers in the league and Chargers Executive Vice President – Chief Operating Officer/Chief Financial Officer, Jeanne Bonk, started with the team in 1991 and has since gone on to become one of the highest-ranking female executives in the NFL.
"I think as a whole, having an opportunity for these young women and Laura Okmin to come into the Chargers, it's great because our league (and our team) is inclusive," mentioned Special Teams Coordinator – Assistant Head Coach George Stewart, who has known Okmin for over two decades. "There are women coaching (in the NFL), there are female athletic trainers. In terms of having the situation where women can come into our building and feel comfortable, it's truly outstanding and it says a lot about our ownership."
"It says that the Chargers have an understanding of encouraging the growth of our players and other young professionals in their respective fields associated with our great game of football such as GALvanize," added Arthur Hightower, Chargers Senior Director of Player Engagement. "The organization also supported an initiative from our training staff that introduced high schoolers to the field of athletic training, and high schoolers in the local area with community service projects through our Take Charge program from the Community Relations Department. The process of pairing the women of GALvanize and our rookies is a great concept that introduces our players how to work professionally with women in the media profession, and the young women are given the opportunity to hone their skills in a professional working environment to get players to share their stories. The women get to interact with seasoned staff members that are able to give them pointers for career success. This is the second consecutive year that we have work with Laura, and I see us continuing working with her in the future."
The Bolts opening their doors to GALvanize is something that is not lost on Okmin. Afterall, it's one of the reasons she keeps coming back to the Chargers.
"I can't say this enough, the way that this building opens up everything to us and it starts with (Head Coach) Anthony Lynn," Okmin mentioned. "The way that they trust us with the rookies and being in the building is pretty awesome. It's a privilege of a lifetime. We're treated as part of the team. There's such a great trust. I'm so appreciative of the Chargers because it is such a privilege and such a great opportunity for these women."
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Over 20 aspiring sports reporters visited Hoag Performance Center for a broadcast bootcamp with Emmy-award winning sports broadcaster Laura Okmin where they shot standups and interviewed the Bolts rookies.