Courtesy of Rob Knox, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
NORFOLK, Va. – Nicole Hutchison and Sha’Quira Martin are bundles of positive and radiant energy lighting up computer screens and television sets from coast to coast.
It seems only fitting that in a conference in which five of the eight athletic directors are women and many of the conference office’s senior staff are women, Hutchisonand Martin are the faces of the MEAC Digital Network.
With March being Women’s History Month, Hutchisonand Martin are phenomenal role models making a difference with their talent, tenacity and resiliency. They have hosted shows, worked behind the scenes doing digital features, and brought stories to life with their terrific sideline reports during athletic broadcasts.
Hutchison and Martin have different backgrounds but have traveled along similar paths to form a rock-solid friendship built on respect, fun, and a shared purpose of opening doors for others.
They are the beautiful embodiment of “Black Girl Magic.”
“Nicole helped me get this position (with the MEAC) and I am forever grateful because it was something she didn’t have to do,” Martin said. “It’s refreshing to come across people like Nicole in this industry. My goal is to help create a space for a lot of us to sit at the table. Every struggle that I have had, I want to be the last person to go through it, so that the next girl doesn’t have to go through it. If you’re not creating a path for 100 girls coming after you, what is your purpose?”
The 26-year-old Hutchison and 31-year-old Martin have endured rejection and taken chances on themselves to thrive in their careers. Both shared stories of reaching out to prominent Black women broadcasters, only to be dismissed or ignored.
The slights motivated and strengthened them even more. They vowed to never be that way.
Both also have roots in Texas; Hutchison grew up in Houston and Martin grew up in San Antonio.
They were bonded by working as two of three Black women sports anchors in the entire state of Louisiana, which is where their paths first crossed, each covering LSU football’s national championship. Hutchison worked in Alexandria and Martin worked in Lafayette.
“We had mutual friends while we were in Louisiana,” Martin said. “Our relationship grew, and we naturally connected. It’s always a winning situation. When I was out of television for a bit, Nicole was checking up on me. I randomly got a call, and she said, ‘I put you and couple of other names (forward to the MEAC for an open position).’ Nicole didn’t have to do that, and I am forever grateful.”
A Howard University graduate who was also a tennis student-athlete, Hutchison currently works for Fox 56 in Lexington, Ky., where she covers the University of Kentucky and high school sports. When she was younger, the talented Hutchison dabbled in playing the piano, doing karate, singing, musical theatre, and playing soccer.
This role fuels her passion.
“I love covering HBCUs,” Hutchison said. “It’s special, honestly. A blessing. Sometimes, I complain about the grind because it’s so hard, but then I realize this is such a blessing and something I always wanted to do. Working with the [Washington Commanders], where Tony Wiley gave me my first opportunity was when I knew I wanted to do this. He had me asking questions during press conferences, transcribing interviews and pushed me to really get out of my comfort zone. It’s awesome.”
Hutchison has also worked at the MLB Network and the Tennis Channel, which was her dream position at the time. While Hutchinson enjoyed her time at the Tennis Channel, she came to a fork in her road.
“You don’t have to take that typical path,” Hutchison said. “Bet on yourself. If you have a full-time job and you want something else, go and chase it. It doesn’t matter if you fall on your face. I don’t give myself enough credit with how much and how hard I work. Fortunately, people remind me to give myself a pat on the back from time to time.”
Meanwhile, Martin’s goal was to be a heart surgeon. Martin, who lives in Wichita, Kansas, is currently the Regional Communications Specialist for the American Red Cross. She earned her undergraduate degree from Sam Houston State and her Master’s degree from Texas Southern.
Having Martin and Hutchison as the faces of the conference’s media efforts has been intentional for MEAC commissioner Sonja Stills. Broadcaster Tiffany Greene recommended Hutchison to the MEAC. Now, girls can aspire to do what Hutchinson and Martin are doing.
“One of the things I wanted to do when I became a commissioner was, I wanted to make sure we provided opportunities for more women,” Stills said. “They are knowledgeable, talented and they can do it. They are a great pair. They give us a different flair and it was easy to pair them with the godfather, Charlie Neal, during broadcasts. Our goal is to give them opportunities here and prepare them to be a Tiffany Greene or a Pam Oliver.
“So, why not come to the MEAC?”