Sports journalist and SAIT instructor Vicki Hall becomes first woman inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame
Former Calgary Stampeders beat reporter reflects on her career and an exciting new chapter
As a sports journalist for more than two decades, Vicki Hall has experienced many memorable Grey Cup Sundays. This year’s, however, might just take the cake … or the stadium hot dog.
On Sunday, Nov. 19, Hall will be inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in Hamilton, Ontario. She’ll be the first woman to receive the honour, joining the media wing — a branch of the hall recognizing reporters, broadcasters, announcers and other members of media who have made an outstanding contribution to football. She’ll join the likes of longtime football columnist Larry Tucker and national sportscasters Brian Williams and Chris Cuthbert.
The impressive credential is a huge achievement and highlights the real-world press box and newsroom experience Hall brings to the classroom as a Journalism instructor with SAIT’s School of Business, helping to guide the next generation of reporters.
An honour 20+ years in the making
Hall’s lifelong connection to sport can be traced back to her youth as a Calgary Flames fan.
“Hockey was my first love,” she says.
When it came to choosing a career, Hall’s passion for storytelling and news made journalism the obvious choice. She received her degree in journalism and communications from the University of Regina and, in 1997, became a news reporter for the Regina Leader-Post.
In 2001, Hall had an opportunity to cover football for a year for the Edmonton Journal. She agreed to give sports journalism a go.
“Little did I know one year would turn into 20,” says Hall.
After a decade with the Journal, Hall spent nearly nine years covering the NHL and CFL for the Calgary Herald, including a stint as the Stampeders beat reporter from 2013 to 2015. She has also covered amateur sports for Postmedia, freelanced for CBC and won a National Newspaper Award.
Hall has broken gender barriers throughout her career — in 2015, she was named the first female president of the Football Reporters of Canada and became the first woman on the Canadian Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee.
Highlights on and off the field
Hall witnessed some incredible moments throughout her career. She was there when Usain Bolt ran — and won — his last individual race at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. And when Pavarotti performed for the last time at the Torino 2006 Opening Ceremony. She’s covered Grey Cup championships and a Stanley Cup Final. But amidst all the glamour and glory, it’s the intimate, personal moments that have left the biggest impact.
"The magical moments came when I was talking to just one person,” she says.
An example that springs to mind was when a football player shared his family’s emotional journey with premature newborns.
"Those human moments, when I got a glimpse into what makes a person successful, what drives them. It’s been a privilege to tell people’s stories throughout my career, honestly and from the heart.”
A new chapter at SAIT brings new life
Hall transitioned to a communications role for Alberta Health Services in 2017, finding herself in the biggest news story of her life when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020.
In 2022, Hall was presented with an opportunity to teach at SAIT, and her first time on campus sealed the deal.
"Standing in front of Heritage Hall, I knew it was where I belonged,” she says.
Through teaching, Hall has found new life and energy — she loves working with students to make their news stories the best they can be.
"I was a player — now I’m more of a coach,” she says.
Even as an instructor, Hall hasn’t put her pen down — she’ll be covering the Paris Olympics in 2024. Being a sportswriter means remaining neutral and unbiased, so you won’t find her cheering on any sports teams any time soon. But there’s one athlete she makes an exception for.
"My son, who is on the autism spectrum, plays SuperHEROS hockey, a program for youth with cognitive and physical challenges. He’s also involved in karate, ringette and lacrosse,” she says. "He’s who I cheer for.”
Finding the advantage in adversity
Hall’s time as a sports journalist wasn’t without its challenges, especially when starting out.
"Being a woman in an environment where there weren’t many, there were things that were harder without a doubt,” she says.
Though you might have expected her to face more pressure on the job than her male counterparts, Hall actually found the opposite to be true.
"I never felt pressure to prove how much I knew about the sport, so I wasn’t embarrassed to ask questions,” she says.
This curiosity opened up a journalistic opportunity to dig deeper and explore the emotional side of sport.
When she did face gender-based criticism or inappropriate comments, they were through face-to-face interactions or letters written to the news outlet. While these moments were difficult and discouraging, Hall worries about added challenges faced by a new generation of female sports reporters.
"I didn’t have to face the onslaught of social media and online criticism arriving to my phone in real time,” she says. "I worry about young women in sports and the lack of mental health supports available.”
Hall continues to advocate for women in sport and hopes her latest achievement inspires her niece, a star running back who plays tackle football at her Winnipeg high school.
"I want her to see that she can do whatever she wants to do,” says Hall. "I might be the first female in the Hall of Fame, but I certainly won’t be the last.”
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