DALLAS (FWAA) – Grace Raynor
of The Athletic has been named the recipient of the second
Edward Aschoff Rising Star Award, which is presented
by the Football Writers Association of America and named after the
beloved ESPN college football reporter who died on Christmas Eve
in 2019 on his 34th birthday from previously undetected Stage 4
non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in his lungs.
Raynor, 27, a 2015 North Carolina graduate, covers the Clemson
Tigers for The Athletic and begins her fifth season overall reporting
on the Tigers this fall, third for The Athletic. She is the second
writer from The Athletic to win the award after David Ubben, who
was the first recipient in 2020 as a beat reporter for the Tennessee
"For the second year we had numerous nominations of outstanding,
talented young journalists who have shown so much promise and are
at the head of their class, but Grace won over our panel in convincing
fashion," said 2021 FWAA President Heather Dinich. "Upon learning
she won, Grace promised me she would pay it forward and always help
younger journalists along the way, truly capturing the spirit of
the award - and our friend Ed."
In honor of Aschoff, a bright light in the sports journalism
industry, the FWAA decided to annually recognize one promising journalist
no older than 34, who has not only the talent and work ethic it
takes to succeed in this business, but also the passion to make
it better. Aschoff, a 2008 graduate of the University of Florida,
loved people, and even as his career at ESPN escalated, he still
guided and befriended younger journalists along the way.
"Unfortunately, I never met Ed, but I feel like I've gotten to
know him through my friends and colleagues who were lucky enough
to spend time with him," Raynor said. "In every story I've ever
heard about him, I've learned that in addition to being an incredible
reporter, Ed was a model for us about how to treat people. I've
heard so many stories about his kindness, his big smile, the way
he made people feel and how he'd do anything to help a young reporter
coming up in our industry.
"I am deeply honored to receive this recognition in this way
and hope I can make Ed proud. I would love to show the same generosity
to others he seemed to so willingly share." Originally from Morganton,
N.C., Raynor graduated from UNC's journalism school after working
for The Daily Tar Heel for four years. She also interned with The
Fayetteville Observer and MLB.com twice, the latter through the
Association for Women in Sports Media (AWSM). After her second MLB.com
internship, she freelanced before getting her first job at The Post
and Courier in Charleston, S.C.
Raynor covered general assignment sports for The Post and Courier
before moving to the Upstate of South Carolina to begin covering
Clemson in 2017. She has covered Clemson for The Athletic since
February of 2019. When not writing or in a press box, Grace likes
to hike, do yoga and cook.
"Grace Raynor of The Athletic covered college football’s most
eventful beat last season, and she did so exceptionally," said David
Teel of the Richmond Times-Dispatch in his nomination of her for
this award. "No, Clemson didn’t win the national championship, or
even reach the title game. But Trevor Lawrence was the face of the
sport, not only leading the #LetUsPlay movement but also giving
voice to an on-campus social justice initiative that led the university
to rename an administrative building and the honors college. Oh,
and Lawrence missed two games with COVID.
"Grace chronicled it all, on and off the field, with flair and
a big-picture lens, just as she has the Clemson beat since joining
The Post and Courier, and then The Athletic."
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Remembering Ed Aschoff
Aschoff moved to Los
Angeles in 2017 to begin a more expanded national role that included
television coverage. Over three seasons, he reported from campuses
across the country for ESPN.com, SportsCenter, SEC Network and ESPN
Radio, and he worked as a television and radio sideline reporter
during college football games.
During the 2015 college football season, Aschoff and ESPN.com
colleague Adam Rittenberg were winners in the FWAA's Annual Best
Writing Contest for their enterprise piece, "The racial impact of
Eric Striker." Contest judge Michael Weinreb called it, "An eye-opening,
surprisingly frank and timely examination about how college football
is affected by issues of race and identity."
Aschoff inspired us through his storytelling, brightened our
lives with his gregarious personality, and uplifted our spirits
with his energy. The FWAA hopes to honor his memory and his commitment
to aspiring journalists with this award.
"Edward epitomized everything you want in a sports journalist:
He knew how to build relationships, to gain trust, to break stories
but also to tell stories," said ESPN.com's Andrea Adelson. "And
he did it all with a flair that made you want to watch his television
pieces or read his written stories right away. His dogged determination
and relentless work ethic allowed him to rise to the top at ESPN,
and all his exemplary qualities serve as a model for young journalists
everywhere about what truly can be achieved if you go after what
you want." The University of Florida's College of Journalism and
Communications has established the Edward Aschoff Memorial Fund,
which will provide support for students involved in sports journalism.
"Edward was one of our stars – not just because he was so talented
as a journalist and storyteller, but also because of everything
he did to help people around him. He always had a good word of advice
for young journalists, he was always willing to give back, and he
always made people smile," said Ted Spiker, chair of the department
of journalism at the University of Florida who taught Edward in
several classes at UF.
Jordan McPherson, a student reporter at Florida from 2013-17
who is now covering the Miami Marlins for the Miami Herald, said
Aschoff helped him on several occasions. "He was a pro's pro and
touched my life with just a few brief interactions that he didn't
have to make," McPherson said. "His positivity was infectious, his
ability to mentor through simple conversation was second to none.
He will be missed, but always be remembered."
Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America
consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives
in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday
operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team.
For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive
Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or email@example.com.