Reporter who broke gender barrier in NHL locker rooms dies

Feb 3, 2022, 4:44 PM | Updated: 5:57 pm

WALTHAM, Mass. (AP) — Robin Herman, a gender barrier-breaking reporter for The New York Times who was the first female journalist to interview players in the locker room after an NHL game, has died. She was 70.

Her husband, Paul Horvitz, told the newspaper Herman died Tuesday at their home in the Boston suburb of Waltham, Massachusetts, from ovarian cancer.

“Robin was a Swiss Army Knife reporter. She covered fires and AIDS, gold madness in the Diamond District and Iran hostages, homelessness and hippie communal living,” the former Times editor recalled in a series of tweets Thursday as condolences and remembrances poured in on social media.

Herman was a hockey reporter covering the New York Islanders when she and another female reporter were allowed to interview players in the locker room — as their male counterparts were commonly permitted to do — following the 1975 All-Star Game in Montreal.

Herman, in a piece for the Times a few weeks later, recalled how she’d hoped her “mini sports history” moment would go quietly unnoticed. Instead, the locker room quickly devolved into a “circus scene” as “players scrambled for towels and photographers scrambled for cameras” and the two female reporters suddenly were “the news of the hour,” she wrote.

“It was an important moment, for it loudly heralded the fact that female sportswriters are a reality and that they must be dealt with,” Herman wrote.

Herman went on to other assignments at the Times, later wrote for The International Herald Tribune and worked at The Washington Post in its health section. She also wrote the 1990 book “Fusion: The Search for Endless Energy.”

Herman became assistant dean for communications at Harvard University’s School of Public Health in 1999 and retired in 2012.

“Robin helped pave the way for so many women in sports by breaking numerous gender barriers that allowed us to follow in her footsteps,” the Association for Women in Sports Media tweeted.

Born in 1951 in New York City, Herman achieved other firsts in her lifetime: Herman was also part of the first Princeton University class that admitted women.

Besides her husband, she leaves two adult children and other relatives. The Boston Globe reported Herman will be laid to rest at a cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a gathering of remembrance will be held later.

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Reporter who broke gender barrier in NHL locker rooms dies