Huddersfield Sports Journalism graduate Holly Hunt says that being encouraged to step out of her comfort zone at university helped her successful move into a career that has already seen her interview some of the Premier League’s biggest names.
Holly, who graduated in 2020, is an in-house journalist for the English Football League (EFL) and recently interviewed Manchester United and Newcastle United stars on the pitch at Wembley Stadium in the aftermath of the Carabao Cup Final.
A love of football and the written word saw Doncaster-born Holly get involved with covering her beloved Rotherham United for Shoot! magazine and then for the club itself while still at school, giving her added strings to her bow when going through the competitive application process for the University of Huddersfield’s course.
“I played for the school football team, but being from Doncaster we had a lot of Doncaster Belles youth team players so I was not quite as good,” says Holly.
“I realised I was not going to make a career as a footballer but my favourite subject was English, so I thought about putting them together. At the time there were not so many opportunities, but Huddersfield was one of the few places doing sports journalism and it had a good reputation.”
Holly and her fellow students were encouraged to think creatively when it came to gaining experience away from the classroom during the three-year course, and it is these times that Holly feels were crucial when taking her first steps in the world after graduating.
“I was very football-focused but I was aware I would have to diversify to get where I wanted,” she adds. “We were encouraged to look at placements, and as it was obvious that some people would just go for football I knew I had to mix it up.
“Learning in the classroom is not enough, so the experiences outside that we had were invaluable. One assignment saw me do a TV report about a volleyball club in Doncaster that was mostly for people who have arrived from overseas. That involved covering games and interviews, so that was very different and I also covered Huddersfield’s rugby union club. Rugby is a long way from my comfort zone, and it involved working at a weekend – but that is what happens if you want to work in sport and it was an excellent way to learn.”
After graduating, Holly had a stint writing about sports business and sponsorship before moving into the role with the EFL. With the EFL’s competitions including sponsorship by Sky Bet, Carabao and Papa John s that experience helped Holly with working on the EFL’s website and other publications. Her time with the EFL has also shown that there is still a demand for the kind of longer-form football writing that Holly already had years of experience in.
“Working on the EFL website, as well as other publications like magazines and programmes, is part of my job and the longer pieces do get good numbers of readers if you can keep people engaged throughout.
“I would never have thought I would have the opportunity to speak to Premier League players or World Cup winners like Lisandro Martinez. I’d already been to Wembley with Rotherham United while on placement at university, but I never take it for granted.”
But nothing beats having the chance to interview your heroes and when she had the chance to speak to the iconic Neil Warnock, he more than delivered.
“I spoke to him for a feature in one of my previous jobs and he told me he only stayed on as Middlesbrough manager because he’d essentially been tricked into thinking he hadn’t hit a milestone he’d already reached!”
Reflecting on her time at Huddersfield, Holly urges anyone considering sports journalism to look beyond the high profile sports as she was encouraged to do while at the University to give themselves something unusual on the CV that may alert an employer. “When I was encouraged to look outside of football, I was a bit dismissive at first. Doing volleyball was very different, neither code of rugby was really my thing, but sports journalism is very broad and that variety at Huddersfield really helped me.”