Sage Steele, BS’95 and SportsCenter lead host, spent this past week hosting the espnW: Women + Sports Summit. She was sitting backstage when a mother of three approached her with a story about her 11-year-old daughter.
Her daughter had just watched ESPN for the first time with her two brothers. She called her mother into the room. Her eyes got really big.
“She looks like me,” she told her mother.
Steele shared this story with tears in her eyes at Friday’s Distinguished Alumni Awards ceremony. She said the experience was humbling.
“So many people told me I couldn’t do this,” Steele said. “What if I had quit?”
But she didn’t, and she said she wouldn’t be where she is without IU.
Steele is one of six members of The Media School’s eighth class of distinguished alumni. The class includes a photojournalist, a journalism educator, a TV writer and producer, a sports broadcaster, an editor and a network president.
The alumni honored were Steele; retired Scripps Networks president Ed Spray, BS’63, MS’69; TV writer and producer John Rappaport, ’62; Fort Wayne Journal Gazette retired editor Craig Klugman, BA’67; photojournalist Richard Horwitz, BA’63, MS’64; and journalism educator Diana Hadley, MA’80.
Throughout the night, alumni shared stories of their time at IU, thanked specific professors that changed their lives and explained how their time at IU affected their careers.
Hadley received her master’s degree from IU after eight years of evening and summer classes. At the time, she was still teaching and advising student publications. She said former dean Richard Gray was one of the main reasons she was able to do that.
She remembered the first time she met him. It was during a registration event where the journalism department had a table. She saw the dean working the table, which she said really impressed her.
She came back a few months later to start her classes. Gray greeted her and said, “Diana, it’s great that you’re back.”
She had no idea how he remembered her name.
Hadley went on to advise high school journalism publications and eventually became director of the Indiana High School Press Association.
She thanked the alumni board for recognizing journalism educators with this award.
“I came to IU 46 years ago seeking help with the challenge of teaching journalism, but it grew into a career,” she said.
Spray shared a story about his time shooting film on campus. He was covering a demonstration, one of the first at IU. It was around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
After he covered the event, the FBI asked Spray’s professor to turn over the film. He refused.
He told Spray to get on the 5 p.m. bus and get the footage on the air that night.
Spray ended his speech by thanking the alumni board for the award.
“It’s the capstone of my career,” he said.
Klugman said if it weren’t for IU, he wouldn’t have gotten his first job, would never have met his wife, would never have met some of his closest friends and wouldn’t have the career he did.
IU gave him the education and training that he kept throughout his life, he said.
“In one way or another, IU was with me,” Klugman said. “I owe Indiana University a lot, and not just for this honor.”