SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME: Barbara Caywood Pioneer In Sports Journalism

By  //  July 27, 2014

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SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME

ABOVE VIDEO: Few have accomplished in their lifetime as much as Barbara Simmers Caywood. Capping a 46-year career in journalism, she retired in 2005 after covering generations of student athletes and breaking down barriers as one of the first female sports writing professionals in America.

BARBARA CAYWOOD – 2013 INDUCTEE

Barbara Caywood

Barbara Caywood

• Member of FHSAA Hall of Fame 

• AAU Media Person of the Year

• Bob Davis Service Award

PASSION FOR WRITING & SPORTS

Few have accomplished in their lifetime as much as Barbara Simmers Caywood.

Capping a 46-year career in journalism, she retired in 2005 after covering generations of student athletes and breaking down barriers as one of the first female sports writing professionals in America.

Her accomplishments in sports journalism make her eminently worthy of induction into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.

Growing up in Harrisonburg, Va., Barbara fell in love with sports and decided to pursue a career that blended a passion for writing and competition with her unique ability to tell the story of athletes from a personal perspective. (Image courtesy od the Caywood family)

Growing up in Harrisonburg, Va., Barbara fell in love with sports and decided to pursue a career that blended a passion for writing and competition with her unique ability to tell the story of athletes from a personal perspective. (Image courtesy od the Caywood family)

Growing up in Harrisonburg, Va., Barbara fell in love with sports and decided to pursue a career that blended a passion for writing and competition with her unique ability to tell the story of athletes from a personal perspective.

Accompanying her father to a few Washington Redskins professional football games piqued her interest in the sport, and inspired her to learn the rules and as much as she could about the sport.

Her family moved to Florida in 1951 when her father took a job as an accountant for the Growers Container Company, and graduated from Ocala High School in 1955.

Her next stop was Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, where she earned her degree in journalism in 1959.

Her first job after college was as the sports editor of her hometown newspaper at the Ocala Star-Banner for a year. The work was everything and more than she expected from a newspaper career.

She learned the newspaper business from the ground up, covering every sport imaginable and meeting customary deadlines.

FIRST FEMALE SPORTS WRITER IN FLORIDA

When an opportunity presented itself in 1960 to relocate to Kansas for a position as the assistant sports editor of the Hutchinson News, she decided to accept the job and move west.

Barbara with a very young Magic Johnson. (Image courtesy of the Caywood family)

Barbara with a very young Magic Johnson. (Image courtesy of the Caywood family)

Covering Hutchinson athletics was a joy for Barbara, and through her association with so many families and students in the community she came to appreciate the sacrifices many parents make to help their children play youth sports.

Her daily stories, championed the achievements of youth athletes and kept the public informed about their activities and dreams for the future.

However, she covered much more than youth and prep sports. Hutchinson was the home of the National Junior College Athletic Association Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament and afforded Barbara the opportunity to expand her horizons.

She covered the event like few ever had before and made a name for herself as someone who knew college athletics inside and out.

Barbara was the first legitimate member of the working media to be barred from the press box by school officials based on gender bias. Image courtesy of the Caywood family)

Barbara was the first legitimate member of the working media to be barred from the press box by school officials based on gender bias. Image courtesy of the Caywood family)

As an established highly credible source for information about university athletics she was given the coveted assignment to cover Kansas University sports for the paper.

The 1960s in America heralded the beginning of gender attitude and status changes, and Barbara found herself in the thick of things being soon thrust into the national spotlight when she was refused admittance into the KU football press box to cover a game because she was a woman.

DEEP FAMILY ROOTS: Barbara's son, Kurt Caywood, also became a sportswriter and like his mother has enjoyed a long career in journalism. Above with her family and colleagues, she was recognized as the 1986 National AAU Media Person of the Year. During her career she also received the 2001 Bob Davis Service Award for Outstanding Contributions to High School Football and the 2003 Hartwell Conklin Service Award for Outstanding Contributions to High School Track & Field. Barbara was inducted into the Florida High School Activities Association Hall of Fame in 2005, and then the FHSAA Track Hall of Fame in 2009.

DEEP FAMILY ROOTS: Barbara’s son, Kurt Caywood, also became a sportswriter and like his mother has enjoyed a long career in journalism. Above with her family and colleagues, she was recognized as the 1986 National AAU Media Person of the Year. During her career she also received the 2001 Bob Davis Service Award for Outstanding Contributions to High School Football and the 2003 Hartwell Conklin Service Award for Outstanding Contributions to High School Track & Field. Barbara was inducted into the Florida High School Activities Association Hall of Fame in 2005, and then the FHSAA Track Hall of Fame in 2009.

She was, in fact, the first legitimate member of the working media to be barred from the press box by school officials, and also the last member of the working media to be barred by the school based on gender bias because of the furor that ensued.

The next time she knocked on the Kansas University press box door, they let her in. Through sheer perseverance, she overcame years of male dominance in sports writing, spent the next 24 years relating the stories of athletes and coaches in the Jayhawk State, and holds the distinction as the first female sportswriter in the states of Kansas and Florida, and only the third in the nation.

LIVING LEGEND WITH COACHES & PLAYERS

In 1984, Barbara ventured back to Florida becoming the prep sports editor at Florida Today. For the next 21 years, she lavished her attention on prep sports in Brevard and through relationships based on mutual respect and admiration became a living legend to coaches, school administrators, players and their families. (Image courtesy of the Caywood family)

In 1984, Barbara ventured back to Florida becoming the prep sports editor at Florida Today. For the next 21 years, she lavished her attention on prep sports in Brevard and through relationships based on mutual respect and admiration became a living legend to coaches, school administrators, players and their families. (Image courtesy of the Caywood family)

In 1984, Barbara ventured back to Florida becoming the prep sports editor at Florida Today.

For the next 21 years, she lavished her attention on prep sports in Brevard and through relationships based on mutual respect and admiration became a living legend to coaches, school administrators, players and their families.

Her son, Kurt Caywood, also became a sportswriter and like his mother has enjoyed a long career in journalism.

During her distinguished career, she was recognized as the 1986 National AAU Media Person of the Year, and received the 2001 Bob Davis Service Award for Outstanding Contributions to High School Football and the 2003 Hartwell Conklin Service Award for Outstanding Contributions to High School Track & Field.

She was inducted into the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Florida Track and Field Assn. Hall of Fame in 2009.

THE 2017 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME Banquet and Induction Ceremony will take place at the Cocoa Beach Country Club on Friday, May 12.

FOR INFORMATION ABOUT the 2017 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME, call 321-615-8111 or e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com

CLICK HERE to see all the members of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.


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3 Comments on "SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME: Barbara Caywood Pioneer In Sports Journalism"

  1. Pat Jarrell Shortt April 17, 2013 at 2:02 pm · Reply

    It’s about time for Barbara to get the recognition she truly deserves! I was very fortunate to be able to work with Barbara in the 80’s and 90’s at Florida Today. She was so incredibly passionate about whatever team or athlete she was writing about from preps to pro sports. She never lost her cool (as far as I could see) even though I was “sports impaired” and knew next to nothing about rules and regs of football, basketball, baseball, tennis, or even foosball. She was always kind and patient, willing to explain any of the basics that I SHOULD’VE known, without casting glances..(at least to my face). She is a true professional and paved the way for so many women (who actually Do know sports) so they can know first hand what it really smells like in the men’s locker room..She’s an amazing reporter, writer, tough when she needed to be but always a lady. Congratulations Barbara! Well Deserved!

  2. JOHN MOORE May 2, 2013 at 7:56 pm · Reply

    My congradulations to you Barbara. After spending almost 44 years, 30 at the Univ. of South Carolina, I can truly recognize the mind fields that you encounter through out your carreer. A formor coach here aways said “follow your dearms”. I know full well that you did that. I know we both spent our times at the best of times for intercollegiate athletics. Its such a big business now. Nice to be retired. Hope you and your family are well. – John Moore

  3. Joey Wiles January 4, 2014 at 10:41 pm · Reply

    Barbara,
    Congrats to you and your family on your very deserving award. Thank you for teaching a young HFC how to deal with the media. After 32 years in coaching, I have never met anyone like you. You are the very best and I just want you to know how happy I am for you.
    Joey Wiles
    Head Football Coach
    St Augustine HS

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