You know Emmy-award winning sports broadcaster Laura Okmin from her work on NFL on FOX and Westwood One, but you may not know that during the NFL offseason, she dedicates time to GALvanize, a program she founded in 2012 that provides workshops, boot camps and coaching to women in sports.
This week, Okmin headed west and brought her GALvanize group to the Chargers for a very special boot camp. It marks the second camp with the Bolts since 2015.
"This is one of my favorite organizations," Okmin said. "From Head Coach Anthony Lynn and General Manager Tom Telesco to all of the assistant coaches; I love this staff. It's a really special thing when you're allowed to bring 20-plus women to an NFL building, and that really starts with the wonderful people who opened the doors and allowed us to come in."
The group first took to the field at Hoag Performance Center to record standups. Then later, Okmin took her team to the Chargers team meeting room and waited for the Bolts rookies to walk in for a surprise.
"(We're) sitting in a room and watched guys come in," she described. "All of a sudden, they'd go, 'Oh sorry, wrong room! What's going on?' We told them, 'No, you're in the right room!'"
Unbeknownst to the rookies, Okmin paired each reporter with one of the Bolts' newest players. The pairs took time getting to know one other, taking turns interviewing each other, and even ate lunch together. It was imperative for them to learn each other's stories before the women interviewed their partner one-on-one in a formal sit-down setting.
As Okmin attested, this is an important exercise not only for the young women aspiring to be sports broadcasters, but for the rookies, as well. For some rookies, being interviewed is a completely foreign experience. Her goal was for both groups to understand both sides of the interview process; an invaluable piece of insight they will carry along as they continue their career journeys.
"It teaches empathy," she mentioned. "Not only do the women have to interview the players, but the players have to interview the women. I want the guys to understand how hard it is to lead a conversation and to listen and ask good questions. I want my women reporters to understand how challenging it is to be vulnerable with someone you don't know who is asking you personal questions. I love when they get to try on each other's shoes. One of the great things is how it's shattered a lot of stereotypes. These players get to see that there are platforms for them to tell and share their stories, and there are reporters out there who take their time and get to know the players to understand the weight of responsibility of sharing and telling a story."
As part of GALvanize, over 20 aspiring sports reporters attended a boot camp where they interviewed Chargers rookies. Take a look at the best shots.