By Patrick Fergus
Gripping her newly won Emmy Award, Gabby Guerard simply couldn’t believe it. The former Editor-in-Chief of The Springfield Student had made it through the three exhausting weeks covering the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and had collected some valuable hardware in the process.
Growing up in a southern New Hampshire town called Derry, Guerard always loved sports but struggled to find a career path that would satisfy her passion for athletics. After taking numerous career polls in high school, Guerard discovered that she could become a sports journalist, and the choice became clear.
As writing had always been one of her strengths, the idea of basing her pieces around sports was enticing. Guerard yearned to play field hockey in college, a very much northeastern sport, so her initial interest in attending a southern school was thrown out the window. Springfield College would become her home for the next four years.
“I thought the student-athlete experience would give me a unique window into covering sports,” Guerard said.
Diving right in as a first-year student, Guerard joined The Springfield Student. She climbed the proverbial ladder throughout her four years, moving from staff writer to News Editor, and finally Editor-in-Chief for her senior year.
Martin Dobrow, then the advisor of The Student, noticed the talent and diligence that Guerard brought to the table. Especially her gift of “finding the bigger story.”
“Gabby had a real appetite for it, a willingness to go for the real,” Dobrow said.
Her first story for the Pride Sports Journal, a long-form magazine published by many of the students working for the paper, was an excellent example.
The story focused on the special bond between Naomi Graves, the long-time head coach of the Springfield women’s basketball team, and star bench player Ava Adamopoulos. Still nervous about asking questions while learning the art of reporting, Guerard was extremely grateful for the experience.
“I was fortunate that Ava opened up to me….and we really connected on a personal level,” Guerard said. “That was the first time where I knew the story I wrote had made someone cry, and it opened my eyes to the power of journalism.”
With that story serving as a launching point, Guerard continued chasing stories that would have an impact on her, and when she finally became the Editor-in-Chief, she worked closely with Dobrow to conceive great stories.
Meeting every week on Tuesday, these brainstorming sessions, or “Journo Summits,” would sometimes venture outside the office.
“They were great conversations…and it’s true, often when we would see each other on campus, in front of the Union, or even at the gym, we would talk more. I love it when people have the fire for real journalism, and Gabby clearly did (and does),” Dobrow said.
Guerard started her journey in the internship world by dipping her toes in the water with a very small-town newspaper, the Nuttfield Publisher. Paying her dues, she sometimes covered unique and even comical stories.
Eventually, she took a turn away from print media and focused on the growing multi-media aspect of journalism. She began writing online articles, which became the main focus of her internships at WEEI and NESN.
She still used the fundamentals she learned in her journalism classes, like the importance of action vs reaction photos and search engine optimization principles.
“It’s all about taking the fundamental pieces and applying them to the content you’re creating, and building off of the concepts to make the work better,” Guerard said.
These opportunities served as building blocks to her current role at NBC, as the NFL Digital Linear Editor. Essentially, Guerard serves as a “middleman” between the digital teams and the writers, as well as overseeing the publication of videos on the NBC Sports website and app.
An important aspect of improving her craft is asking questions.
“If you’re not asking questions, you’re not learning, and if you’re not learning, well, then you’re not challenging yourself enough,” Guerard said.
At the NBC headquarters in Stamford, Conn., Guerard and her team worked around the clock during the Olympics in Tokyo ﹣ 21 days straight. 12 hours a day. No days off.
And they would often get down on the floor and do plank exercises just to stay awake.
“Every day you’d leave feeling like you just took an SAT,” Guerard said.
Still, Guerard and her team were rewarded for their tireless efforts, in the form of an Emmy for Outstanding Event Coverage.
Her reaction was probably similar to most others that unexpectedly receive such an honor.
“It was pretty insane,” Guerard said.
Photo Courtesy Gabby Guerard