Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 9, 2013

SALISBURY — A quick scan of the reception area at the Holiday Inn Saturday would have likely prompted a double-take when Anna Grearson came into view. That’s because the Vermont Sportswriter of the Year for 2012 is the lone female out of over 100 NSSA winners in Salisbury this weekend.

Her case is an anomaly in a world where women are starting to have more impact professionally. Sportswriting is generally a male-dominated sport but Grearson has faced those challenges head-on and thrived. She’s broken stories about Montpelier High losing its football team and a football coach losing his job due to inappropriate conduct.

The 2006 graduate of Springfield (Ma.) College is the Sports Editor of the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus and is one of four female sports reporters in Vermont between television and print. “There is a lot of proving yourself,” Grearson said. “When I go to games, some people think I’m a manager or in the sports information department. They think I’m one of the site administrators at high school games. At least, they don’t think I’m a player anymore.”

During her start at the Times Argus, Grearson did the necessary dirty work as most do when entering journalism. That included writing obituaries.

“My desk happened to be next to the sports editor,” Grearson said. “I told him ‘My degree’s in people who are alive, let’s make this happen.’ So he threw me some field hockey that no one wanted to cover.”

She grew up loving basketball and took that love to Springfield, the birthplace of basketball, starting out as a physical education major. Boston Globe sports writer Marty Dobrow was Grearson’s college writing teacher and posed that she string for the student newspaper after noticing her work.

From there, she switched majors and life started going down another path. One of the more revered moments in Vermont’s athletic history would be the University of Vermont’s upset of Syracuse in the 2005 NCAA Tournament when Grearson was still at Springfield.

“I was kicking myself since I knew I would have been at that game,” said Grearson, who picked Springfield over Syracuse. The News Argus focuses primarily on area high schools, of which they cover 16. The prep sports scene in Vermont is vastly different from North Carolina’s. Grearson says some high schools in Vermont don’t have football because of declining enrollment in addition to the financial burden. Montpelier High, a prominent school in the state’s capital city, recently cut its team. Barre Auditorium is nationally recognized as one of the best places to watch basketball and hosts state championiships.

There’s no volleyball or swimming at the prep level. Bowling is becoming a varsity sport next year. Skiing and snowboarding are big due to the climate.

“We don’t have a lot of schools that play (football) since it’s expensive,” Grearson said. “A lot of high schools in Vermont would rather put the money toward hockey. We’re done with football season by the first or second week of November. It gets too cold.”

Norwich University hockey is a priority as a Division III power. It was a treat for Grearson, a big Boston sports fan growing up, to cover Norwich when it played at “Frozen Fenway” last year at the Red Sox home park.

Two years ago the paper’s newsroom and press were lost to a flood and moved the deadlines up to 6 p.m., temporarily.

Grearson says the paper’s circulation during the week is around 10,000 and 12,000 on weekends. Like many other young journalists, she’s had to embrace social media and different platforms for content. Regardless of gender, Grearson is a talented writer and passionate about sports journalism, which translates well at any level.

“I’m honored to be in the same room as all these other winners,” Grearson said. “It’s a huge feeling of camaraderie, whether we’re at small papers or huge papers. We all face the same challenges.”