VIDEO: Hillard Grossman Award-Winning Newspaper Journalist For 30 Years In Brevard County
By Maria Sonnenberg // May 8, 2017
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Hillard Grossman has garnered more than 20 individual honors from the Florida Sports Writers Association, Florida Press Club and the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors.
2017 SPORTS JOURNALISM
REPORTED ON EVERY MAJOR SURFING EVENT
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – When he was in elementary school, Hillard Grossman wanted to be either a baseball player or a cat.
“I thought they both had it made,” said the award-winning Florida Today journalist.
Being a human made becoming a cat unfeasible, so Grossman tried baseball. That didn’t work out, either.
“I couldn’t run very fast or throw very hard or hit very well,” he admitted.
He could, however, write very well, and he parlayed his way with words, together with his love for sports, into a 30-plus year career writing, editing and designing sports stories in Brevard.
If the subject was sports and the place was the Space Coast, Grossman has probably written about it in his hundreds of stories about high school sports, tennis, bowling, surfing and more.
The newspaper’s tennis columnist during the sport’s golden years of the 1980s, Grossman covered the likes of legends such as McEnroe, Connors, Lendl, Borg, Nastase and Navratilova.
Tennis greats weren’t his only subject matter. For more than 13 years, Grossman followed the surfing exploits of world champion surfers Kelly Slater and twins C.J. and Damien Hobgood, and reported on every major surfing event, including all Sebastian Inlet Pro contests.
“In a community that is considered the East Coast Surfing Capital, not just because of the sport of surfing, but also because of the huge economic impact of surfing, having someone who knows the sport, players and industry is crucial,” said Tony Sasso, executive director of the Florida Surf Museum and a former state representative.
“Because of Grossman, people enjoy learning who won the last contest…and how the surf tourist market fills hotel rooms and other businesses.”
BEST AMERICAN SPORTS WRITING
The priceless moments in Grossman’s long career include interviewing baseball wonder Pete Rose in his Porsche; the time Tony Hawk flew over him on a skateboard; enjoying cocktails at Suntree Country Club with tennis immortals Stan Smith, Ken Rosewall and John Newcombe; sitting next to Maury Wills for a spring training game at Dodgertown; and spending the afternoon in Daytona with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., memorable hours that included a joy ride flying at 150 miles per hour around the track.
He has even earned the love of athletes’ parents. Kelly Slater’s mom, Judy, says Grossman has done so much for her boys, he is “like part of our family.”
He may not have been an outstanding baseball player, but he has been a winning journalist, snagging more than 20 individual honors from the Florida Sports Writers Association (FSWA), Florida Press Club and the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors (FSNE), and through special sections and Sunday sports editor roles, helped Florida Today win dozens of state and national honors.
In 2007, he won the trifecta at the FSNE contest, taking top-three honors in general sports writing, column writing and design of a NASCAR preview tab. He also was included in the 2003 edition of “The Best American Sports Writing” for his profile of Slater.
EXCEPTIONAL SPORTS COVERAGE
One of Grossman’s most cherished awards is one he and fellow prep editor Barbara Caywood earned from the Brevard School District for their “exceptional sports coverage of Brevard public schools.”
Grossman has been a champion in sports writing since his first big project, tracking down all of Brevard’s state champions and doing a Page 1A story on the anniversary of Mel High’s 1966 state football championship earned him kudos from the FSWA.
His stories weren’t just high achievers in their content. They have also undoubtedly helped many athletes gather scholarships and sponsors to continue their own achievements.
“It is neat to be recognized for something you really put your heart and soul into,” Grossman said.
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.