Rediscovering My Purpose: Paving the Path for Black Women in Athletic Communications

Written by
Danielle R. Wright

Jan 23, 2024

Jan 23, 2024 • by Danielle R. Wright

As I step back into the realm of athletic communications, I can’t help but feel an electrifying surge of purpose. It’s a familiar feeling—a reunion with a passion that has always been an integral part of my being. But this time, it’s not just about me; it’s about breaking barriers, shattering glass ceilings and creating a pathway for other Black women in an industry that has historically been devoid of our voices.

My journey in athletic communications started at Hampton University as a student assistant. I walked into Patricia Porter Mayfield’s office to talk about volunteering with a full suit and heels on with my resume in hand. That was the start of a journey paved with determination, resilience and an unwavering love for both sports and storytelling. As a young Black woman, I faced hurdles—societal expectations, systemic biases and a lack of representation in the field I was so deeply passionate about. But I refused to let these obstacles define me or impede my aspirations.

My love for sports started early, and as a child, I used to write poetry to release my emotions. The role I found in athletic communications allowed me to put pen to paper in ways I never imagined—and I quickly became hooked. It was the storytelling aspect—the art of conveying the emotions, triumphs and challenges within sports—that truly ignited me. From that point on, I knew my calling lay in combining my passion for athletics with my gift for communication.

The path to realizing this dream was fraught with challenges. The field of athletic communications remains a predominantly white male-dominated space. As a Black woman, I often found myself in situations where I was one of the few—or sometimes the only—representative of my demographic. While this reality could have discouraged me, it instead fueled my determination to carve out a space where diversity was not just welcomed but celebrated and sought out.

After completing my education and gaining valuable experience in various roles, I took a step back from the industry. It wasn’t a retreat; it was a deliberate pause—a time for introspection, growth and recalibration. During this hiatus, I found myself reflecting on the significance of my presence in athletic communications, the impact I could make beyond my personal achievements and the increasing need to gather more Black women to enter this field.

I realized that my return to this sphere wasn’t just about reigniting my own passion; it was about opening doors for other aspiring Black women who shared my dreams. It was about creating an environment where their talents could flourish, where their voices could resonate and where their perspectives could enrich the narrative of sports communication—a narrative that we as Black women would own.

Stepping back into my purpose meant being intentional about mentorship, advocacy and empowerment. It meant using my platform to amplify the voices of underrepresented individuals, advocating for inclusivity at every level of the industry and providing guidance and support to those navigating a similar path.

One of the most fulfilling aspects of my renewed journey has been witnessing the gradual but impactful changes taking place. I’ve had the privilege of mentoring young Black women aspiring to enter athletic communications, guiding them through the intricacies of the field and instilling in them the confidence to embrace their uniqueness. Witnessing their growth, their successes and the spark in their eyes as they realize their potential has been immensely gratifying.

But the work doesn’t stop there. I am committed to being a catalyst for change, to continuing to advocate for equitable opportunities and to persistently challenging the status quo. As I continue this journey, I hope to collaborate more frequently with organizations, engage in discussions on diversity and inclusion, and actively seek ways to dismantle the barriers that hinder the progress of Black women in athletic communications.

As I forge ahead, I’m reminded of the profound responsibility that comes with this purpose. It’s not just about achieving personal milestones; it’s about leaving a legacy—a legacy where every Black woman aspiring to pursue a career in athletic communications feels empowered, valued and equipped with the resources to thrive.

So, as I step back into the vibrant world of athletic communications, I carry with me the torch of determination, resilience and advocacy. My stride, no matter how short, is not just for myself but for the countless talented Black women who deserve to be seen, heard and celebrated in an industry that is more vibrant when it embraces diversity in all its forms. Together, we pave the way, leaving an indelible mark on the landscape of sports communication—one that is inclusive, representative and limitless in its potential.

Danielle R. Wright is Director of Strategic Communications and Marketing at the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference and Founder of Wright Relations communications firm.