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May 19, 2020
Life After Witt

#LifeAfterWitt: Sarah Gearhart ’06

Alumna Leads Exciting Writing Career Through Sports Journalism

Springfield, Ohio – Meeting so many interesting people in the world of athletics has led Wittenberg graduate Sarah Gearhart to a fulfilling career path as a freelance sportswriter.

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and raised in Annapolis, Maryland, Gearhart graduated from Wittenberg in 2006 with a degree in communication and a minor in writing. Just four years later in 2011, she was headed to New York City to serve as senior producer for USA TODAY Sports and in 2015 transitioned to full-time freelance writing to pursue stories and projects that align more with her passions. Her work has taken her around the world and has appeared in Runner’s World, ESPN, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Vice Sports, Outside Magazine, and Victory Journal.

Rubbing elbows with so many sports stars in her young career, Gearhart has interviewed and featured such standouts as former pro basketball player Dwyane Wade; pro football players Troy Polamalu, Adrian Peterson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Randy Moss; pro baseball players CC Sabathia, Ryan Howard, and Dustin Pedroia; soccer player Abby Wambach; runners Meb Keflezighi, Wilson Kipsang, Kara Goucher, and Shalane Flanagan, and boxer Andre Ward, just to name a few.

“I actually didn’t consider pursuing freelance early in my career mostly because it can be quite risky, especially living in one of the most expensive cities in the world, but I always knew I could take my writing and skillset to another level, and I think when you believe in your ability, you find a way to align opportunities,” said Gearhart, who was a member of Wittenberg’s cross country team for four years and ran track for two years. She was also vice president for the class of 2006 for four years, a writer for The Torch, a writing intern for two years with the Office of University Communications, a member of Build a Better Wittenberg (BABW), and the founding editor of Links, the alumni newsletter for the department of communication.

“Sports journalism is a field I fell into after college because my first job after I graduated was as an assistant editor for a magazine and media company that focused on sports performance,” said Gearhart, who specifically pursued journalism after falling in love with writing at the early age of nine. “I’ve remained in sports media for my entire career to date (nearly 14 years now), but I’ve expanded into other categories, including food and travel. I’m living my dream. I can’t fully express how much I love what I do. It doesn’t feel like work, even though I ‘work’ nearly every day. I enjoy that I’m constantly tasked with talking to so many interesting, talented, and successful people, from professional athletes to chefs and designers. I’m grateful that I get to engage in really thoughtful conversations.”

Gearhart’s work consists of a variety of responsibilities ranging from researching, interviewing, writing, copy editing, organizing photo shoots, and creative directing. Her career has taken her all over the world, from Paris, London, Berlin, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Mexico City.

I honestly believe that if I didn’t attend Wittenberg, I wouldn’t be where I am in my career. I actually had my heart set on going to the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. I got into Syracuse, but not the journalism program. I wanted to run in college. Enrolling in a DIII school allowed for that opportunity and much more. I could exercise my interests in ways I know I wouldn’t have been afforded at a larger university.
Sarah Gearhart '06

“I hope to continue on this path because it inspires me to do more and connect with people from so many different cultures. I like the dynamic nature of what I do,” she said. “You’re always capable of more than you realize. There’s so much more I want to do with my career. For one, it’s my long-time dream to report at the Summer Olympics. I also want to expand into making a sports documentary as well as have more photo exhibitions around the world. I had an exhibition in Berlin in 2016. And I also want to write more books. I’ve currently written four.”

And with all of this work, Gearhart somehow finds time to continue being an athlete herself. She has finished 14 marathons with hopes of running the London and Tokyo marathons in the future, which would complete her goal of the World Marathon Majors -- six of the world’s biggest and most prestigious marathons. She hopes to run her 15th marathon this fall or in 2021 once COVID-19 becomes less of a health crisis.

“I ran my personal best of three hours and 26 minutes at the 2017 Berlin Marathon and would like to take it down to 3:20 or so,” she said. “I got into running when I was 15 because I wanted to be on a sports team in high school and that was the outlet I chose. I ran throughout high school and also college and have continued since I graduated in 2006. When I’m not traveling, I’m dedicated to yoga, which I do about five days a week. I really like Pilates as well. I don’t have time to dip into anything else, so no triathlons on deck for me at this time.”

Gearhart has written about her racing experiences in the past for outlets and founded a travel guide series in 2017 for runners called “Outside/In” producing versions for Berlin, Boston, and New York City.

“The idea is to share a cultural and informational resource illustrating how to connect with a city in a way that a typical travel guide doesn’t suggest: through running,” Gearhart said. “I do that partly with conversations with local runners as well as a lot of on-the-ground exploring.

“So many of my experiences were pivotal in shaping my writing development,” she added. “From writing about sports, profiles, and music for the school newspaper, The Torch, to interning with Karen Gerboth in the University Communications Office and being commissioned for my first cover feature as a senior in college to being asked by Dr. Matthew Smith to create an alumni newsletter for the communication department--I just can’t imagine being able to do all of that had I gone to college anywhere else. It was incredibly special. I loved Karen’s constructive feedback and her approach to editing. Her advice is still with me.””

Gearhart found a perfect home at Wittenberg that satisfied all her passions.

“I honestly believe that if I didn’t attend Wittenberg, I wouldn’t be where I am in my career,” she said. “I actually had my heart set on going to the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. I got into Syracuse, but not the journalism program. I wanted to run in college. Enrolling in a DIII school allowed for that opportunity and much more. I could exercise my interests in ways I know I wouldn’t have been afforded at a larger university.”

Cindy Holbrook
Cindy Holbrook
Senior Communications Assistant

About Wittenberg

Wittenberg's curriculum has centered on the liberal arts as an education that develops the individual's capacity to think, read, and communicate with precision, understanding, and imagination. We are dedicated to active, engaged learning in the core disciplines of the arts and sciences and in pre-professional education grounded in the liberal arts. Known for the quality of our faculty and their teaching, Wittenberg has more Ohio Professors of the Year than any four-year institution in the state. The university has also been recognized nationally for excellence in community service, sustainability, and intercollegiate athletics. Located among the beautiful rolling hills and hollows of Springfield, Ohio, Wittenberg offers more than 100 majors, minors and special programs, enviable student-faculty research opportunities, a unique student success center, service and study options close to home and abroad, a stellar athletics tradition, and successful career preparation.

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