Trishana McGowan — Her personal best

All Woman

WHEN she was an athlete at St Andrew High School for Girls, Trishana McGowan never received her medals when she expected them, but she never threw in the towel. She kept training and improving her personal best, confident that her hard work would pay off eventually. And sure enough, she eventually got her podium finish in the Boys' and Girls' Championships in 2004.

Similarly, after eight years in the profession, McGowan became the second woman ever to be named Sports Journalist of the Year by the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) this year — just a few months after her position was made redundant.

“I never questioned who I was even after being made redundant,” McGowan told All Woman. “I've learned in my years of doing sports that you can train hard for something and you still might not get the desired results. It's the same thing with life. You get up and you go again, and you keep going, and you keep moving forward, because you never know when that win will come. You never know when that breakthrough will come, but it will come, because you have done good work.”

And McGowan has indeed been doing good work. She learnt the value of same as she watched her mother, a cosmetologist, do her best to care for her and her brother, after her father passed away when she was seven years old.

“And being a single mother at the time, my mother always took my brother and I to sporting events, and that is when I really developed a love for sports,” McGowan remembered fondly. “She always loved track and field, so she would take us to the National Stadium, especially at the time of the Gibson Relays. I remember one of the times I met Dionne Rose, Merlene Ottey and Juliet Cuthbert through the fence of the Bleachers. I don't remember the name of the meet, but I'll never forget that.”

So strong was the love that McGowan, though she had dreams of becoming an educator, participated in track and field, and occasionally other sporting disciplines, while she attended primary and high school.

“I loved sports so much, but I also had a love for children and I realised that I did well in subjects for which I had to read and analyse material, so I did the Arts,” she shared. “I was a good athlete, but the years when I thought I would have gotten the medals, they didn't come. But I didn't stop there, I kept going. I earned a silver medal in the 400 metre hurdles at the Boys' and Girls' Champs in 2004 because I didn't give up.”

After graduation from high school, McGowan went to college overseas, and then returned to complete her studies in early childhood education at the University of Technology. Though she was pursuing another passion, she never abandoned her love for sports.

“I would go to sporting events for the fun of it,” she said. “I would be going to the Stadium to watch meets, matches, and just to watch athletes training. In 2012 a good friend of mine, Ricardo Chambers, he saw me, and he knew that I loved sports, so he introduced me to the KLAS sports radio team.”

KLAS took a chance on McGowan and gave her a shot at helping to cover the 2012 Olympic Games. It wasn't a perfect start, McGowan recalled, but what was important was that she was out of the blocks.

“I did Boys' and Girls' Champs after that, and then the World Championships, and the rest was history. It was just one thing after the other at KLAS. Then came CVM TV, and several other entities, until I then I landed at Television Jamaica (TVJ) as a full-time sports journalist,” she retraced.

Winning the coveted Sports Journalist of the Year Award for 2020, the second ever woman to do so after Karen Madden, is one of two career highlights that McGowan experienced during her tenure there. The other was being selected to received further training on a tour of the United States in 2019.

“I was selected as the only Jamaican female sports journalist in the Caribbean to go on the trip by the PAJ through the US Embassy and US consulate. I, along with 47 other women, got the opportunity to tour the States for the month of November and see how they do things there. That, so far, was the highlight of my career. I had a whole different perspective when I came back,” she shared excitedly.

But even as she reflects on her podium moments and wears her garlands with pride, McGowan knows that she still has hurdles to keep clearing — not just for herself, but for women in the profession.

“The mistakes that a man can make in this field, you cannot make them as a woman. You are crucified ten times harsher whenever you mispronounce the name of a player or a coach,” she said frankly. “You are ten times more crucified whenever you do not have the statistics on a team or player correctly. You're constantly working to prove to the masses that you are capable. Sometimes the men themselves do not know certain things, but if, as a woman, you do not know one thing, it will be assumed that you know nothing at all.”

McGowan was let go from TVJ in September last year when the media house downsized in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Nobody wants [their position]to be made redundant, especially in a pandemic. There are so many uncertainties, and especially with no sports going on, I knew that it would have been more difficult for me to pick up another job,” McGowan, who has since been freelancing when opportunities present themselves, said openly. “I have always been very frugal, having grown up with little to nothing, so my bills are paid. Most importantly, I am doing well mentally. I have a great support system and I'm not yet at a place where I'm emotionally overwhelmed.”

She doesn't know when her breakthrough will come, but she knows that it will, because even in the off season she is constantly improving on her personal best.

“No hard work goes in vain. Timing is important, and the right timing is not always your timing. I've always had that mentality, and [my position]being made redundant did not diminish that — it's even stronger now,” she said assuredly. “It's just a matter of being patient. It's not just about me. The world and Jamaica are still a bit uncertain about what is happening next with sports, and until that time I have to just keep navigating as best as possible and stay prepared.”

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