Megan Nipe has led on the court as one of GW’s top scorers. But soon, she hopes to lead on the sidelines.
Nipe will graduate this year after four seasons as one of women’s basketball’s top players. But she has found a more recent aspiration that will allow her to stay close to the sport she loves: sports journalism.
“What makes me want to be more of a sports reporter is the fact that I know sports – I know basketball particularly – but I’ve always been a fan of all sports,” Nipe said. “My love for journalism and talent – of any kind – for journalism came much later on for me than most people think it did.”
Nipe is pursuing a master’s degree in strategic public relations at GW after receiving the prestigious Robin Roberts/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association broadcasting scholarship for a female collegiate basketball player doing graduate work in journalism last year.
Nipe said it was in a creative writing class where she first started to see herself as a writer. She focused on blogging and found a niche using her wit and sarcasm to complement stories.
“That’s kind of my talent. I’m maybe not the most outgoing person, but I kind of have a quiet humor that I like to work with when it comes to writing,” Nipe said. “I found that I was a better writer than I knew and I really enjoyed finding stories.”
When Nipe came to GW as a freshman, she envisioned herself majoring in biology. Gradually, however, she found she wanted something completely different. She earned a spot in the School of Media and Public Affairs in her sophomore year even though she “wasn’t even sure at that point” that she wanted to pursue journalism.
Nipe had never even heard of the $4,500 Robin Roberts award when she originally applied for it at the urging of Erica Williamson, the team’s director of basketball operations.
“After I applied, I didn’t think I had much of a chance,” Nipe said. “A few months later, when Coach pulled me aside in practice and was like, ‘I need to talk to you,’ I thought I was in trouble.”
She wasn’t. Soon, she was in New Orleans at the WBCA Awards Show, held alongside the NCAA Women’s Final Four, to get a closer look at sports journalists covering a major event.
“It was an eye-opener and such a blessing,” she said.
Now, having graduated with a 3.2 grade point average and a degree in journalism and mass communication, she would like to model her career path after female sports broadcasters Samantha Ponder and Erin Andrews. Nipe said she wants to emulate the on-field reporting they do, especially for college sports.
Experience outside the classroom is hard to come by with a practice schedule, but Nipe has gotten hands-on training whenever possible, interning last summer with Comcast SportsNet and by doing a series of video segments for the athletic department’s RaiseHigh TV.
But while she was discovering that new passion, her old one – basketball – seemed in jeopardy. She lost her entire sophomore year to her third career knee injury, a torn meniscus, and began to question whether or not she should quit basketball altogether.
She chose to stay with the team for her junior and senior years, and once she did, she knew she wanted to make up the time she lost and play as a graduate student.
“It was really a struggle for me, facing my third knee injury, of trying to come back at all or just kind of face the fact that my body wasn’t cut out for basketball, even though my mind was,” Nipe said. “Once I made that decision that I was coming back and I knew that I would get that year back, I was fully committed and I jumped with both feet in.”
The 6-foot guard, who posted 10 points and 5.3 rebounds per game last season, is poised to again lead the team. Her skills come not only from her strength and size, but from her detective-like mind for anticipating plays.
“I know my role as a player is more of an IQ player and not relying solely on my athleticism or strength. I am able to do more of the reading on the court, reading plays, reading people,” she said.
It’s not surprising, then, that one of her favorite SMPA classes was investigative journalism, which she says, “propelled my interest toward writing and finding stories and digging deeper.”