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PODCAST: Ross recalls how she proved herself "in a man's world"

The first female NHL play-by-play announcer Sherry Ross joins Matt Loughlin and Jessica Kent on Speak of the Devils presented by RWJ Barnabas Health

by Jessica Kent / Special to

Pioneer. Barrier breaker. Legend. Woman.

These are just some of the words that describe who Sherry Ross is.

Devils fans would recognize her voice - she was not only the Devils' play-by-play announcer in the mid-90s, then from 2007-2017, but the first woman to broadcast a professional male sports team.

Video: Sherry Ross on Progress in Hockey

 "If I had any impact in cracking the glass ceiling, I'm very proud of what I've did," Ross said on the Speak of the Devils podcast. "I didn't do it to be the first woman but the fact that I was, I'm proud of that and I hope there's many more that will follow."

Ross says she "fell into" her broadcast roll. She started out as sports reporter in the late 70s, which in itself had a continuous row of hoops to jump through.

Tweet from @NJDevils: ���Those women were pioneers for me. I just went, ���I can do this.������Hear from Sherry Ross, the first woman to call play-by-play in the NHL, and learn how she got involved in hockey. #GenderEqualityMonth | @nhl

"Going into some [arenas], I would often be the only female reporter there so the security guard would stop me at the door [and say], 'you can't possibly be doing this, I don't know why you're here', because there weren't a lot of women traveling around so I was this novelty."

Male reporters would often question her knowledge and quiz her - something Ross came to expect, but also wasn't really phased by.

"In terms of acceptance, I was so confident in myself that I didn't feel like I needed to argue," Ross explained. "I think any person that's in a minority group of any kind that's dominated by another group, you have to show that you know your stuff, that you're not just there because you want to make news - I never wanted to make news, I wanted to report the news."

Ross credits Lou Lamoriello, former New Jersey Devils President, and General Manager, for seeing her potential for the role in the mid-90s.

"He thought I could do this job and it would appeal to female fans."

He was right. Ross inspired a generation of young women and will continue to do so with her legacy.

"I would have young women come up to me - and it wouldn't just be that they were interested in sports - one wanted to go into the Navy and be a fighter pilot," she recalls. "I said, 'what does that have to do with me?!' and the girl said, 'because women like you are doing things that we couldn't do before,' and that almost brings you to tears."

In her first season as a play-by-play announcer, Ross remembers the "surreal" moment of calling the Devils' first Stanley Cup win against the Detroit Red Wings in 1995. It was the first of many remarkable memories Ross has held onto over the years.

"I did something that was important to some people and something I loved, and the fact that other people loved it too and maybe inspired other people to get into it, that's a pretty good legacy to leave if you wanna call it that," she said.

Ross changed the face of broadcasting. She opened up the possibility of women doing "a man's job", and gets excited to see new doors opening for women in hockey.

"We haven't seen women break into play by play yet, but hopefully we will someday."

Ross is currently retired but is always looking on the horizon for her next opportunity.

Ross is one of many strong women that will be highlighted on Speak of the Devils podcast during Women's History Month.

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