Cronkite professor Paola Boivin retires from The Arizona Republic

The award-winning journalist retired from The Arizona Republic after a long career at publications across the U.S.

Paola Boivin was only eight years old when her father took her to her first baseball game at Comiskey Park to see the Chicago White Sox play. 

There, she fell in love with sports. 

Now, nearly 50 years later, Boivin is an award-winning journalist and a professor at ASU who will finish her career with the Arizona Republic at the end of the month.

After graduating from the University of Illinois, Boivin worked for many publications including the Chicago Tribune, the Camarillo Daily News and the Los Angles Daily News. However, she found her home in the sunny Southwest with the Republic, where she has worked for the past 13 years.

Boivin has come a long way from covering the intramural water polo team for her college newspaper, the Daily Illini, to covering a Super Bowl, a World Series, the Olympics and a dozen Final Fours for the Republic.

At the Republic, she climbed her way up from the bottom as a part-time employee working on the copy desk to writing sports columns — that's where she found her niche.

Some, like Greg Boeck, an adjunct journalism professor at ASU, say an aspect of Boivin’s writing that makes her stand out is her use of vivid storytelling in her columns.

“I thought highly of her just from reading her columns and her perspective of things,” said Boeck. “The way she can bring perspective and still give her opinion without hitting me over the head with it, those are the attributes that I really admire and gained to respect.”

Boivin managed to excel in a field that she said was overwhelmingly male-dominated, especially toward the beginning of her career.

In the 2013 fall semester, women made up only two-thirds of students enrolled in bachelor’s and master’s programs for journalism and mass communication nationwide, according to an article published two years ago in USA Today College.

“What I think is probably as important as anything is she brings a female perspective to the Cronkite Sports Bureau that we didn’t have,” Boeck said. “Now as the first full time woman in the sports bureau, she brings the perspective for the women in the sports bureau that we couldn’t do.“

Boivin said that while being a female sports journalist was difficult when she started, it's gotten better over the years.

“Now (being a woman sports journalist) it’s great,” Boivin said. “But when I started, I almost quit like 10 times because it was early on when there weren’t a lot of women in there, so you never felt very comfortable.”

While she succeeded in the field, she always desired to teach.

“I have always had a passion (for teaching) and always thought that I would want to teach, but my journalism career kind of took off so I stuck with that,” Boivin said.

Boivin first became a professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications after she told people she knew at the school that she was interested in teaching if a position opened up.

When the opportunity presented itself, she taught for free because she was still covering ASU sports for the Republic and didn’t want there to be a conflict of interest.

Boivin taught her class unpaid for a year before she accepted a position at the Cronkite Sports Bureau, where she was the first full-time female employee.

Though Boivin was hired to teach the others at Cronkite, she has already learned an interesting fact about herself.

“What I’ve learned here at Cronkite, which has been so awesome, is that the female journalists, who didn’t have anyone to look up to in the profession, see me as a mentor,” Boivin said. “That’s amazing to me that they feel that way. It’s really cool.”

However, according to Boivin's colleague, 28-year-old Sarah McLellan, a Coyotes beat writer for the Republic, she has been inspiring women for longer than she may have realized.

“It’s inspiring what Paola has done in her career, and I think what she’s accomplished has made it easier for my generation to come into the field without much adversity,” McLellan said.

Even with Boivin moving only a seven-minute walk away, her fellow reporters at the Republic say that Boivin will be missed.

“I remember reading the paper as a kid and seeing her photo, and that was meaningful seeing a woman in a prominent role on the sports staff,” McLellan said. 

“Her voice has chronicled Arizona sports for so long. I know her writing will be missed, but I don’t think she’ll be forgotten.”


Reach the reporter at kmarlin1@asu.edu or follow @kynan_marlin on Twitter.
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