Beauty and a Sports Beast
Writer has insight into Ole Miss and Kentucky
Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo is a versatile lady. She is a graduate of an Ivy League school, a mom and a former beauty pageant winner. Oh yeah, she is also an outstanding sportswriter. How outstanding, you wonder? Not many, if any, sportswriters cover the SEC on Saturday and the NFL on Sunday each weekend, but she does as a senior editor at Main Event Sports.
Another thing she will be Saturday is a touch conflicted. Herring-Olvedo will have an eye on the game when Ole Miss visits Kentucky. She has ties to both Oxford and Lexington, but says she will remain neutral.
“I have watched both these teams literally go through multiple rebuilds and resurrections.” Herring-Olvedo said. “I was there when no one gave Kentucky football a chance and Ole Miss football was on the rise like that four- or five-star prospect. I have seen some damn good moments in Lexington and in Oxford. I have learned not to be biased in this game or in this business. In the end whichever team has that grit and is willing to out-condition their opponent deserves to win this ball game.”
A former Miss Kentucky, Herring-Olvedo got her love of sports from her roots growing up in Texas. That passion grew during her college days at Brown University and launched her professional path.
“The pivotal moment was when I became the football manager at Brown,” Herring-Olvedo said. “I went from cheering on the sidelines my freshman year and working in the physical education department as an assistant to lugging equipment and filming football. That journey really set the stage for me to know this is where I wanted to be.”
Originally planning to attend law school, she instead chose a path into sports journalism and her readers are happy about that.
She is one of the few writers who has served as a beat writer for both Kentucky basketball and Ole Miss football. Those experiences, especially Wildcat basketball, gave her a chance to hone her craft.
“Both these beats taught me a lot and really enabled me to grow as a sport writer,” Herring-Olvedo said.
“I’ll be honest, when I was fortunate enough to have legendary sports editor/writer Larry Vaught give me a shot to write for his beat, I was not the best at college basketball. I had to work to get up to par especially being so strong and comfortable in football. However, it was being willing to get out of my comfort zone and take on the UK beat and start on a rising Ole Miss beat that really opened doors for me I couldn’t have ever dreamed of.”
Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo
Still, she had to overcome the stigma of not only being a female sportswriter, but one that was also a former beauty queen.
“At the time, there were not really any female SEC beat writers and most of the time the females were on camera,” Herring-Olvedo said. “I learned a lot of life lessons from being on this beat that pushed my buttons but also made me come out stronger as a woman in sports media.”
There were also times she was the victim of mistaken identity.
“The funny thing is when you walk into a new press box and get mistaken for a coach’s wife or an athlete’s girlfriend,” Herring-Olvedo said. “There were a few times when I was starting out that my significant other was thought to be the sportswriter since he was the male. Looking back, it has been a long journey to build my career in a man’s world–especially as a female SEC beat writer. But I wouldn’t change a damn thing about the ride.”
Not only has she excelled in sportswriting, but Herring-Olvedo has a new project “The Cartel,” that is a recruiting and development agency for high school athletes. But her day job remains sportswriting.
She will be in Tuscaloosa Saturday for the Alabama-Texas A&M game, but will keep a close eye on the ‘Cats and Ole Miss. She can cover one game while keeping up with the other, and she looks for it to be a good one in Lexington.
Almost Wheels Up time again! #TAMUvsBAMA
— LeeAnn Herring (@MissKYUS2011) October 2, 2020
“I am ready to see if the rebirth of these teams is happening,” Herring-Olvedo said. “I think both these teams have endured their fair share of hardships trying to get back to the top of the SEC, which we all know is like escaping quicksand. I think Ole Miss is shaping up to be the team it used to be, but it needs to learn to finish. As for the ‘Cats, I think they need to take notice because slow and steady might just win the race once and for all for (Coach Mike) Stoops and his Big Blue Nation.”
Once the game ends in Tuscaloosa, Herring-Olvedo will head to the airport and catch a flight to Kansas City for the New England Chiefs’ game Sunday, a travel routine she follows each weekend during football season. Which begs the question, how many frequent flyer miles does she have?
“Honestly, I have lost count, but I think I could take that trip to IBIZA or Greece a few times if I get around to it after football season!”
After the weekend, Herring-Olvedo will head home and balance her mom duties with her weekly writing tasks. She will try to take a little time off for herself before she starts her next weekend of games.
Such is the life of a sportswriter. An incredibly good sportswriter.
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.