Ashley Docking, a decorated former Seneca Sting athlete, joins the likes of Andi Petrillo, host of TSN 1050’s Leafs Lunch, and Barb DiGiulio, who was once the sole female sportscaster at The Fan, as female radio sports personalities to have emerged from Seneca.
Ashley Docking talks sports, radio and Seneca
Sunday, March 8 is International Women’s Day
March 5, 2020
When former Blue Jays third baseman Kelly Gruber made inappropriate comments in 2018 to Ashley Docking during a live panel discussion she hosted, the Seneca graduate didn’t shy away or recoil. She kept her cool and responded with poise and humour on stage.
“It sucks that things like this still happen,” she said in a tweet after the incident, which resulted in Mr. Gruber being removed from the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s induction weekend festivities. “However, I’m happy that we’ve reached a point where I have a platform to call out misbehaviour when needed and am supported by an industry that has stood beside me with so much integrity. Thank you.”
Ms. Docking, who is known for standing her ground and not shying away from tough conversations, has worked hard in the male-dominated world of sports broadcasting to be a legitimate member of the Toronto sports scene. The decorated former Seneca Sting athlete made history last year when she became the first woman in a very long time to co-host the morning drive show Lead Off on Sportsnet 590 The Fan, where she worked until recently.
“I know it’s meant as a compliment when someone says they don’t consider me a female sportscaster but rather, a sportscaster who happens to be female,” she said. “However, I think it is very important to remember that female voices are different. Our perspective is different, our experiences too. We see everything through a different lens. So it is extremely important for me to make sure that it’s a part of the narrative during certain conversations.”
While Ms. Docking didn’t set out to be a sportscaster initially, her ability to comment on a cross section of sports rests on her own achievements as a dual-sport athlete in basketball and soccer. During her time at Seneca, she was a member of the back-to-back champion women’s basketball teams in the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA). She was named a women’s basketball championship all-star and later inducted into the OCAA Hall of Fame.
Ms. Docking is also a Seneca Hall of Fame inductee and her jersey was officially retired. After graduating from the Business Administration – Marketing diploma program in 2009, she coached the Sting’s women’s basketball team until 2012, when she left for Edmonton for her first broadcasting job with Breakfast Television.
She also studied sports broadcasting at the College of Sports Media and has worked with the Edmonton Oilers, NBA TV Canada, CHCH and the National Lacrosse League, where she continues to work as a sideline reporter for the Toronto Rock on B/R Live.
Looking back, “Seneca ended up being really great for me,” she said. “I was in the athletics program and I had teammates who lived in the residence so I got a little bit of that traditional college experience even though I was at home. The community atmosphere was great and every team, no matter what you were playing, supported each other. I think that’s why I really try to magnify my female peers in this industry when I get the opportunity.”
Ms. Docking also recalls that female athletes have a special place at Seneca and are well-supported.
“Female athletes are often an afterthought in schools and sports programs across the world, but not at Seneca. The athletics director at the time was Linda Stapleton (who retired last year). She made sure we felt as though we were a part of the fabric of the athletics program, maybe even more so than the men at times. That’s special,” Ms. Docking said.
“The staff helped us get jobs on campus so we could earn some money while going to school. I worked at the gym at Markham Campus and at the hockey arena snack bar at Newnham Campus. I can’t imagine this happening anywhere else but at Seneca.”
Ms. Docking joins the likes of Andi Petrillo, host of TSN 1050’s Leafs Lunch, and Barb DiGiulio, who was once the sole female sportscaster at The Fan, as female radio sports personalities to have emerged from Seneca. Ms. DiGuilio currently hosts Newstalk 1010’s The Night Side.
“I sometimes think that women just see a lot more men in certain positions so they think there’s no place for them. That’s changed in recent times. However, when you look at not just on-air talent but also behind-the-scenes staff — producers, writers, editors, camerapersons, managers — they are still largely males,” she said.
“And the reality is that we don’t just talk about sports. We talk about people’s lives, their behaviours, their relationships, and that’s why perspective is so important in broadcasting. It is so important to have different voices heard because everyone lives different experiences, and to represent just one would be a disservice to the listeners. That means including women as well as women of colour and giving us all a seat at the table.”
This interview was conducted on Jan. 21, 2020.