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Batting leadoff

Tracy Warren used her athletics career as a springboard into sports broadcasting, where broke through gender barriers

When Tracy Warren stepped up to the plate during the 1987 season as leadoff hitter for her Division III championship softball team, it was an omen of things to come.

Warren, playing at what was then Trenton State College, also found herself first up in dual careers she pursued following graduation as a broadcast communications major from what is now The College of New Jersey.

She blazed a path for women in sports broadcasting after earning a master’s degree in journalism (assisted by an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship). She was the first woman sports anchor and reporter at television stations in Philadelphia and Grand Rapids, Michigan, eventually winning Emmy Awards for her work, including a feature on “Marketing Michael Jordan.”

Warren then moved into play-by-play, initially with the Colorado Silver Bullets women’s baseball team – making her part of the first all-female broadcasting team in televised sports. It was the beginning of a career that led to providing color commentary for NBC during the 2000 Sydney Olympics and on ESPN’s coverage of the Division I Women’s Softball Championship, and most recently play-by-play duties this year on Fox Sports Southwest’s broadcasts of Big 12 Conference softball games.

But the former third-baseman – not just a two-time softball all-American for the Lions but also an Academic All-America selection -- found herself drawn into a second career in the mid-1990s, enrolling in law school at Notre Dame and earning her degree in 1999.

After working in Maryland and New Jersey, Warren moved to California, where today she practices for the Ogletree Deakins law firm in San Diego in fields ranging from employment law to being one of the few women negotiating coaches’ contracts.

Obviously, practicing law while traveling around the country for broadcasting assignments requires an ability to efficiently balance roles – a skill she learned as a student-athlete, managing softball and studies (including tape-recording interviews with teammates for class assignments).

“It’s time management, which goes all the way back to TCNJ,” the magna cum laude graduate told the school’s TCNJ Magazine in a 2008 feature about alumni working in television.

As a senior at the college, she also managed the bat efficiently in her leadoff role, drawing a team-leading 27 walks and striking out only twice in posting a .383 batting average during the championship season. She also led the Lions in stolen bases with 11 and, no surprise, also led in runs scored with 52.

Warren’s accomplishments on the field and then in her chosen professions resulted in her election in 2005 to the College Sports Information Directors of America’s Academic All-America Hall of Fame, and she is one of 10 graduates of Division III institutions since 1973 who have earned that honor.