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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Women empower each other in Texas State sports media internships


Texas State public relations senior Gabriella Salzillo works as a camera operator for ESPN+ during the spring football game, Saturday, April 24, 2021, at Bobcat Stadium.

Growing up, Gabriella ‘Gabby’ Salzillo remembers staying up late watching Boston Red Sox games with her dad. 
These late nights ignited a love for sports that she continued to carry with her throughout her life. After graduating high school in 2016, she wanted to go to college with the true intention of doing something she loved. With a passion for sports, she was inspired to pursue a career in sports media.
Salzillo, along with other women in Texas State’s sports media program, is challenging the status quo of the male-dominated field as they take on student internships covering the Texas State Bobcats.
Since August 2020, Salzillo has been an ESPN+ production assistant where she broadcasts games for Texas State. Some days Salzillo finds herself working behind the scenes in the control room while other days she’s on the sidelines filming a game as a camera operator.
“I really do enjoy being on camera,” Salzillo, a public relations and sports media senior, said. “I like to be in the arena or on the field. I feel like a part of the game.”
While Salzillo also works for the Spurs Street Team and previously co-hosted the podcast “She Talks Sports Like a Girl,” she said her role at Texas State with ESPN+ has given her the most learning experience and growth opportunities.
“Our past producer is constantly still sending us jobs and rooting for us,” Salzillo said. “I think the leaders in the [Texas State ESPN+] program are exactly where they’re supposed to be as leaders because they really just set us up for success and give us all the tools that we need.”
Salzillo said one of her favorite things about working with Texas State’s ESPN+ program is the number of women involved with the organization. Sometimes the control room will be purely full of women, or some games will have only women working as camera operators. Being surrounded by women also in sports media gives her motivation to defy the odds.
“I tend to say I definitely don’t feel alone, but obviously in the bigger picture of the sports industry, [women are] still a minority,” Salzillo said. “But I feel like it’s really cool to just do what I want to do, even though it is in a male-dominated industry.”
Joining Salzillo in bridging the gap in a male-dominated industry is Jill Williams who previously worked for Texas State Athletics’ Marketing and Promotions Department. Williams, a finance senior, is currently a photographer for the Sports Information Department and works for ESPN+ in marketing along as a broadcast production assistant.
“It’s kind of funny, because a lot of the people [I work with] are public relations or digital media majors, and I’m just a business major,” Williams said. “I’ve never been able to meet people in the field, especially women.”
Although Williams is getting her degree in finance, her past experience as the editor of her high school’s yearbook team introduced her to sports photography. Following graduation, she took senior graduation portraits and came into Texas State wanting to continue to grow her photography skills.
Williams thought sports photography would stop for her after high school as she knew how much the field was dominated by men. Now, after being involved in various assets of the industry, her mindset has changed as she continues to see more women in the field.
“There’s so many of us doing it now,” Williams said. “I see [women photographers] more than I see the [male] photographers I was used to seeing. So, it really is time for this evolution.”
Women continue to dominate sports at Texas State, and in Jillian Slaughter’s case, both on and off the court.
In January, Slaughter, who is also a middle blocker for Texas State volleyball, started a role as a marketing and promotions intern for Texas State Athletics where she takes photos at sporting events and posts live coverage on Texas State Bobcats’ social media accounts.
Her job also entails office hours where she creates spreadsheets of weekly digital content and social media analytics.
“Some days, it does get hard,” Slaughter, a public relations senior, said. “[Being a student-athlete and sports media intern] takes a lot of time management and scheduling.”
A typical game day for Slaughter consists of morning workouts with the volleyball team, heading to class all day until about 4 p.m., and then rushing home to grab her equipment before heading back to campus to photograph a sporting event.
Slaughter’s interest in photography spiked three years ago after getting her first camera. She’s currently minoring in art and has had the opportunity to take photography classes. Previously only taking travel and marriage proposal photos, she was interested in expanding her skills.
“I liked the idea of sports photography, and I like sports,” Slaughter said. “So, I was like, ‘let’s put these two together.”
After playing sports for the majority of her life, Slaughter said she never realized the lack of women in the sports media field until she began her internship.
“Growing up in sports, I’m just always surrounded by women,” Slaughter said. “So, I guess getting into [sports media], I’m coming to the realization that it isn’t always like that.”
However, Salzillo, Williams and Slaughter, have not let the male-dominated industry of sports media get in the way of their goals.
“Just because you’re a girl, doesn’t mean we can’t do anything,” Slaughter said. “And just because it’s sports, doesn’t mean you can’t be as good as men.”
With graduation approaching for the three seniors, they hope to continue their passion for sports media and make a career out of it. This fall, Salzillo is looking to move forward with the opportunity of a social media job in the NFL. Williams is hoping to have a career in sports photojournalism and eventually transition to a career in sports business. For Slaughter, she has her sights set on a job in sports media that would allow her to continue working with college athletics.
“The odds are always in your favor when you’re doing what you want to do,” Salzillo said. “You can never lose with good and pure intentions. No matter if it’s a male-dominated industry or not … if sports is something that excites you, and you’re a woman …. do it.”

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  • Texas State finance senior Jill William works as camera operator for ESPN+ during a women’s basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, at Strahan Arena.

  • Texas State public relations senior Jillian Slaughter records the crowd for the Texas State Bobcats’ Instagram story during a men’s basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022, at Strahan Arena. Slaughter was joining her volleyball teammates on the court as they threw free t-shirts to fans.

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