Laura Armstrong

Sports Reporter at the Toronto Star

Bachelor of Journalism (Hons), Journalism and English, 2013

You can examine society through the lens of sports.

Laura Armstrong knew it would be tough finding a job in journalism after graduating.

“I gave myself five years to find a career in this industry,” she says, knowing that the writing and communications skills she developed at King’s would help her get work elsewhere if journalism didn’t pan out.

Laura didn’t need her back up plan.

Her first gig was with Trident Newspaper, a navy newspaper based at CFB Halifax. She did that for a few months then moved to Ottawa for an internship with the Ottawa Citizen. From there it was a five-month stint with the Kemptville Advance, a community newspaper based just south of Ottawa.

“That’s where I got my best training,” Laura explains. “You’re covering everything. You’re laying out the paper, taking the photographs. People knew me, and it made me accountable.”

Then she got a coveted internship with the Toronto Star. That turned into a one-year contract. As it was ending Laura was assigned to cover the FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer. It was an exciting but scary assignment.

“The logistics are hard. I knew that I knew the sport, that I could write the stories. But getting from A to B, knowing where to be in the stadium—that’s tough.”

It gets even tougher when there are deadlines.

“I had never missed a deadline before. But I was covering a friendly match before the World Cup started. I had left my computer up on the seventh floor and the elevator was so slow that I couldn’t get up to it in time and I missed deadline. I’ll never do that again.”

But the tournament itself was a dream come true.

“To this day, it was the best experience of my life. I was covering a team that I had followed when I was a kid.”

After the World Cup came the Pan Am Games and a staff job as the Star’s soccer reporter, covering Toronto FC. Now she is the paper’s Blue Jays beat writer, still writing soccer and occasionally helping with basketball coverage.

The Star has a history of hiring women to the sports beat. But she still gets “the question”: what is it like to be a woman in a male-dominated world such as sports?

Given the number of women who have come before her, it’s a question Laura prefers to rework. “Maybe instead of asking what it’s like being a woman reporting on sports, maybe we should be asking, how do we get more women taking on the big roles like play-by-play, for instance, roles traditionally held by men? We need to be asking different questions like—What else can women do?”

Laura also knows that many will see reporting on sports not being as valuable to the world as covering news. She has an answer for them.

“There is an importance to what I do. You can examine society through the lens of sports. You can talk about gender, you can talk about race. Sports has a way of bringing people together. We need that in the world. It’s a respite, a distraction from daily life.”

Laura has more dreams to fulfill—covering a Super Bowl game being one of them. Though she’s not a big football fan, she says that event is the ultimate in bringing people together for a single moment. Plus, there can be perks to such big games.

“I hear they have great snacks in the press box. That’s big for me.”

Photo credit: John Lott

Posted: May 2018