Wolkoff wins sports scholarship, recognized for journalistic talents


MJ Martinez

On a deadline-- (left to right) Junior Ricky Podgorski and seniors Matthew Arena and Hanny Wolkoff visit the Channel 3 news team in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, last year on a field trip. At the time of the trip, Wolkoff served as Managing Editor on staff, a position Podgorski took over this year.

Lily Mastrobattista, Features Editor

Senior  Johanna “Hanny” Wolkoff was awarded a $3,000 scholarship as the 2020 recipient of the Bo Kolinsky Memorial Sports Journalism Scholarship from the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance. She will receive the award at the 79th Gold Key Dinner on June 14 at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville.

The award is named after a longtime Hartford Courant sportswriter and past CSWA president. Wolkoff has the same ambition of working in sports journalism herself. On the newspaper staff, Wolkoff is currently Editor-in-Chief of the high school’s newspapers The Voice and the sports anchor for the 9:05 News. As a freshman, she was Advertising Manager; as a sophomore, she was Sports Editor; and as a junior, she was the Managing Editor.

Provided by Hanny Wolkoff
Good food, good friends– Joined with her two friends, seniors Carolyn Ives (left) and Amanda Rodrigues (right), senior Hanny Wolkoff (center) eats and spends time at Project Graduation fundraiser at Five Churches Brewery. Wolkoff will go off to study Journalism next year at the University of Maryland.

“I first became interested in journalism when my parents started watching NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt every night. I became obsessed with Lester Holt and the news, and I, in turn, became obsessed with sharing news in a journalistic way,” Wolkoff said.

Over the years, Wolkoff began creating a niche for herself in sports journalism, combining her passion for sports and for news writing. Near the end of her junior year, Wolkoff began hosting the Sports segment on the weekly broadcast, the 9:05 News, which involves weekly researching, scriptwriting, and filming.

“Hanny has been a genuine pleasure to work with. Preparing the Sports segment every week for the 9:05 is a tough assignment since it requires a good deal of research and fact-checking. Hanny has always done a great job, and she comes to every taping session prepared and on-point. Thinking back on the 20-year history of the News, she is certainly one of the very best Sports Anchors we’ve had. I’m going to miss her quite a bit next year,” 9:05 advisor Evan Foreman said.

Foreman’s 9:05 News co-adviser and newspaper advisor MJ Martinez has been working with Wolkoff for four years, permitting Wolkoff to take the Journalism class as a freshman. Wolkoff, from what Martinez knows, is the newspaper’s first freshman on staff. 

“What sets Hanny apart from many others is her ability to grow. I remember accepting her in as a freshman because of this little eighth grader’s, who I had not yet met, tenacity and determination to get into the class. Being a junior-level English teacher, I hardly interact with underclassmen. So, for me, it was a privilege to see how much a young adult can grow in four years time. Every year, we would debrief about what she would need to work on the following year. No matter what I said to her, she was ready to exceed my expectations,” Martinez said. 

According to Martinez, who notified Wolkoff of the scholarship and subsequently wrote Wolkoff’s recommendation letter for this scholarship and for college, it was hard to write concisely about how much Wolkoff had accomplished. 

“With a student like Hanny, I sometimes just want to write, ‘please just take her, and you’ll see.’ It’s so incredibly hard to write all of her accomplishments in one letter….and I only am ever talking about her success within journalism. There is just never a succinct way to show people how amazing and exceptional she is. As an advisor, she kept me wanting to be better all the time because I wanted to make sure that there were always opportunities for her to grow. I don’t know what the newspaper room will be like next year for me knowing that Hanny won’t be in it. It’s hard to think about,” Martinez said. 

Last year, Wolkoff attended the School of New York Times as part of their sports journalism summer program. Part of a select group of students, Wolkoff has the opportunity to do authentic breaking news reporting on professional sports teams. This program inspired her capstone project her senior year, which is to design a curriculum unit on breaking news.

Martinez says some of her favorite things about Wolkoff are her “courage,” “no-nonsense attitude,” and her “friendship with [senior] Matthew [Arena] and [junior] Ricky [Podgorski].” Martinez said she will miss seeing their “warm and special” interactions next year.

Provided by Hanny Wolkoff
Taking a break– (left to right) Junior Ricky Podgorski and senior Hanny Wolkoff dance during a special Zumba class hosted by Journalism adviser MJ Martinez. Wolkoff and Podgorski have worked together for two years on staff.

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According to Podgorski, his fondest memories come from working with Wolkoff during production week prior to newspaper publication.

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Over four years, Wolkoff has had the opportunity to achieve three gold medals in Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s (CSPA) annual Medalist Critique (four have been earned in the publication’s history) and one of CSPA’s prestigious Crown Awards, the only one for The Voice. Wolkoff also was on staff when the publication went digital, began broadcasting with 9:05, and created its social media platforms. 

“It is hard to sum up my overall experience with The Voice and 9:05 in a few sentences. I have learned to be a team player and a strong leader; I have learned how to represent an organization; I have learned how to be a stronger person overall. This class has turned me into a strong journalist, and I feel prepared to leave high school as I embark on new adventures,” Wolkoff said. 

Next year, Wolkoff plans to attend the University of Maryland to pursue her writing goals.

“In the future, I hope I become a prominent leader in whatever organization I become a part of. I don’t know what area of journalism I want to focus on as I love to write, but I also love to edit and broadcast, but I also love to act as a leader and work with those around me to produce a product. I hope to be working for a major league sports team for sure. I won’t be picky about what sports team it is, but I would love to be involved with athletics in some way, shape, or form,” Wolkoff said.