‘First ever is forever’: Emily Sweeney’s rise to become the first QBSN chairwoman

Neha Seenarine, Arts & Life Editor

At midnight on March 24, Emily Sweeney, a then-sophomore 3+1 journalism major, received a call saying that she would be the first chairwoman of the Quinnipiac Bobcats Sports Network.

“I knew in my head, I didn’t get it, it’s been 15 minutes since (former chairman, Ross Meglin) said he was going to call,” Sweeney said. “Then eventually, there was a moment of silence, which was probably like one or two seconds but, it felt like forever in my head.”

Meglin broke the news, and Sweeney was too stunned to speak, let out a little laugh and said thank you, “because what do you say, right?”

Sweeney kept this moment to herself at first, but called her grandmother to share the announcement.

“She’s probably one of my biggest supporters,” Sweeney said. “My grammy was screaming, she was like ‘Woohoo, I knew you could do it, you were so stressed about it, but you’re changing things.’”

Although Sweeney has experience as president of Quinnipiac University’s Association for Women in Sports Media, she felt doubtful about running for QBSN chairperson. She added her name to the ballot at the last minute.

“It was really difficult for me to figure out, not if I wanted to do it, I knew I wanted to do it,” Sweeney said. “It was if I was strong enough to do it was the question.”

Her family encouraged her to run, but Sweeney did not like the attention that came with it. She noted that she was the only woman to join the organization in her first year at Quinnipiac, and in the previous year, there were just four female members in QBSN.

Jennifer Moglia, a sophomore 3+1 media studies major, social media manager for QBSN and vice president for AWSM recognized the feeling of isolation.

“I skipped the first meeting of QBSN my freshman year, I went to the second one,” Moglia said. “It’s hard when you’re in a room and you feel like nobody looks like you and you just feel like you’re not welcome there.”

Sweeney received mixed reactions when she added her name to the ballot for QBSN chairperson.

“A lot of people still questioned why I was doing it or if I should be doing it,” Sweeney said. “(They were) saying I wasn’t qualified or that they didn’t want a woman in the position. And I don’t necessarily think that’s how they meant it, but it was very much like they didn’t have a problem with anybody else. They only had a problem with me.”

Despite criticism, Sweeney’s main goal was to prioritize QBSN. Before the election, she messaged the members asking for their ideas on how to improve the organization.

“I just want to be supportive of everybody in the organization, get everybody involved, maybe you’re not the chairperson, but your ideas are still important to me,” Sweeney said. “I’m not looking to gain anything for myself, I’m looking to change the organization for the better. In the long run, it’s not about me, it’s about the future of QBSN.”

On March 23, Sweeney gave her speech at the QBSN chairperson election noting her ideas for enhancing the organization and promoting diversity and inclusion. Members of the organization voted on which candidate they wanted for a leader and would know the results the following morning.

Moglia recalled a QBSN Instagram post congratulating Sweeney on being the first chairwoman.

“I really like the saying, ‘first ever is forever,’” Moglia said. “She’s forever going to be remembered as the first woman to run this organization. No one can ever take that away from her, that’s going to be hers forever, like her legacy forever. That’s not even on an organizational level, that’s on a school level, it’s on a state level and that’s a really big deal.”

On Sept. 7, QBSN had its first meeting and Sweeney already noticed an increase of women in attendance.

“To see ten girls in that room, for me, just made it worth it,” Sweeney said. “Hearing them talk about the struggles in wanting to do sports media, but the feeling like they were included…Everything I had gone through because yeah, it sucked for me for a while. It was really difficult for me for a long time, but in the end, I accomplished something that’s going to help a lot more people than me.”

The 2021 Sports Media Racial and Gender Report Card reported 16.7% of women sports editors, 17.8% of women columnists and 14.4% of women reporters in the sports media industry.

“There’s a lot of people who doubt women who are in the sports media fields,” Sweeney said. “You’d think that people would want it to change because of how embarrassing that really is, but there’s always going to be a stigma around women in sports, women in sports media…It’s going to take a really long time for that change to happen. People need to realize how important it is beyond just the scope of for women.”