By Michele Dobbins
Amy Trask (ΦBK, University of California Berkeley, 1982) has been making a name for herself in sports since she first cold called Oakland Raiders executive Al LoCasale in 1983 and convinced him to let her work for the team as an unpaid intern while she was still in law school. She returned to the organization four years later and advanced to the CEO position by 1997—the first female CEO of an NFL team in the league’s history. During her time with the Raiders, Trask oversaw four division championships and their 2002 AFC championship. She remained with the Raiders until moving on to a media position with CBS in 2013.
Women in Sports and Events (WISE) will honor Trask for these accomplishments with the 2017 WISE Women of the Year Award at their annual award luncheon on June 22.
Every year since 1995, WISE honors three women who exemplify the organization’s mission to support and celebrate women in the sports industry. Trask and her fellow honorees, Doris Burke and Buffy Filippell, were selected by votes from a national network of members from all levels and sectors of the industry.
"The 2017 WISE Women of the Year Award recipients are true trailblazers in the sports industry, shattering ceilings for women in broadcasting, talent recruiting, and the front office, and continuing to exemplify the dynamic work this award represents," national chair of WISE Kathleen Francis said in a press release.
Trask’s credentials certainly live up to the term “trailblazer,” garnering the notice of other successful women in sports. A 2002 WISE Woman of the Year, Lesley Visser is the only woman to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and in an article for CBS, she says Trask deserves to be next because of her intelligence—mentioning Trask’s ΦBK background—leadership skills, and dedication.
“Amy Trask will be mortified that I am doing this. She prefers to run from glory. But I want her in the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Visser wrote.
Visser shares that Trask used her business savvy when leading the Raiders, handling everything from litigation to player contracts. In an interview with Anya Schultz of The Weekender, Trask describes her philosophy as: “Four C’s. Communicate, collaborate, coordinate and cooperate. They are integral to running a successful business.”
Yet the job meant more than just business for Trask. She shared in an interview with Frances Bridges from Forbes, “That's why I haven't joined another club since I left the team...I've had discussions with other organizations who have contacted me since I left, but to me being a Raider wasn't spongeable. I was a Raider.”
According to her profile, Trask currently works with three of CBS’s shows, as an analyst on That Other Pregame Show, a contributor to NFL Today, and a panelist on We Need to Talk. The latter brought Trask yet another “first” and gained widespread attention for being the first nationally televised sports show with an all-female panel, joined by a team of female producers and directors.
In September 2016, Triumph Books published Trask’s memoir, You Negotiate Like a Girl: Reflections on a Career in the National Football League, written with Michael Freeman and covering her years with the Raiders. Trask describes how she values hard work and ability and succeeded by striving to operate in a way that was impartial to gender. She does not avoid the topic of gender bias entirely, however. She also discusses encounters in which being a woman influenced the way she was treated by media or other groups in the industry—though not, Trask insists, from NFL players themselves.
“I have been told that I should have expressed an objection or protested any time I perceived a gender-based slight. The best protest is to succeed. My time and energy was best spent focusing on doing my job as best I could,” Trask wrote in Negotiate.
Trask has certainly achieved this success, not only in pushing the limits as a female NFL executive but also in establishing herself as a skilled businessperson, knowledgeable sports analyst, and permanent Raiders fan.
Michele Dobbins is a senior at University of Arkansas majoring in English. University of Arkansas is home to the Alpha of Arkansas Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.