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Remembering female sports writer Jean Giambrone

Posted at: 01/21/2013 5:06 PM
Updated at: 01/21/2013 5:44 PM
By: Christine VanTimmeren

She was a trailblazer, an icon and a champion in female sports writing. On Monday, Jean Giambrone passed away.

The 91-year-old was a familiar face at News10NBC and in the Rochester area. The Irondequoit native had a 42-year career, working for both the Times Union and the Democrat and Chronicle. She pioneered women's sports coverage and gave women a voice.

Jean Giambrone believed that even at 18-years-old, she could challenge the male dominated status quo of sports coverage.

Betty Perkins, friend and former Olympic diving coach, said, “Oh my goodness, she was a pioneer, she was a sportscaster pioneer.”

Former Olympic diving coach and Jean's friend, Betty Perkins, remembers the day when Jean became the first woman ever to report from The Masters in 1967.

Perkins said, “I mean to break into the masters in Augusta. I mean that's beyond comprehension for someone in that vintage era.”

Jean's gumption was an inspiration for women like Betty. Betty was honored with the Jean Giambrone Service Award.

Perkins said, “If it weren’t' for Jean, I don't know if those doors would have opened. It took somebody with a tremendous amount of courage.”

Former sports columnist Scott Pitoniak knows Jean's legacy well. He calls her a champion and woman way ahead of her time.

Scott Pitoniak, friend and former sports columnist, said, “Every current female athlete, coach and administrator really owes her a debt of gratitude. I mean she really opened a lot of doors.”

But beyond the sports and beyond the writing, Scott and Betty agree. Jean was a fantastic human being.

Perkins said, “Her friendship, all the years, meant the most. I mean outside of the sports arena so to speak.”
Pitoniak said, “She was a giving person, she cared about people. She cared about her community and she cared first and foremost for her family too.”

Jean Giambrone left her mark on the world, but the mark she left in her hometown will forever be permanent.

Perkins said, “Every woman in sports should say thanks to Jean today, because they wouldn't be where they are if she wasn't such a sports pioneer.”

Jean passed away Monday morning at Unity Hospital in Greece. News10NBC learned that she had a blot clot in her lung. Funeral arrangements have not been made yet.