When you can’t find her loping through a field on horseback or cruising down a highway on her bike, you can probably find Sky Barsch taking drastic steps up the corporate ladder of journalism.
The former Castleton student graduated in 2002 with a degree in communication and a concentration in journalism. Her passion for writing bloomed within the classroom walls and with the help of professors, including Tom Conroy.
“Sky was GREAT in the newspaper office and my class,” Conroy remembers fondly. “She was smart and generous – just an all around great human being.”
Her first step toward following her goal career goals after graduation was taking a job at The Times Argus in Barre, Vt.
“I made terrible money,” Barsch laughed. “I’m pretty sure babysitters made more, but the experience was what I needed and what I got.”
Her next step was a brief stint at the Burlington Free Press, pulling together even more clips, gathering more and more experience with every interview, edit and article.
And it was that very experience that got her where she is today.
After moving to the North East Kingdom and leaving the Argus and Burlington behind in her wake, she began freelancing for Vermont Life Magazine.
But Barsch was unsatisfied, hungry for more.
“Freelancing was a great opportunity,” Barsch said fondly. “But I was always on the lookout for new ideas, new projects to follow.”
And in 2010, the project she had been on the hunt for finally found its way to her.
The Vermont Sports Magazine was being sold, and Barsch jumped at the chance to be the next owner.
“It was terrifying,” said Barsch, who recalled not sleeping for a solid two months after the purchase, wondering if she had made the right choice.
“But I knew I could do it,” she said fiercely. “I may not have been business savvy, but I knew how to write.”
Although Barsch may have second guessed herself a time or two, it wasn’t obvious. She dove right in to the magazine, bringing new concepts and ideas to the plate in order to watch it grow.
And grow it did.
Barsch looked at the magazine and what it covered; races, sporting events and highlights of local outdoor activities.
She liked the content, but wanted to put a different spin on it.
“A lot of the magazine covered superstar athletes. I wanted to put the average athlete in the spotlight. We can’t all be superstars.”
And Barsch did just that. She found the everyday runner, logging his miles after work. She found the mom of three who perfected her yoga poses for an hour every Tuesday night. She uncovered a brand new side of sports and athletes in the state of Vermont.
“With the support of my family and friends, I felt like I had finally found my footing.”
Her footing may have been newly discovered with the success of the magazine, but it was years in the making. Working for the Castleton school paper as a student helped develop that footing.
“Back then, there was me and one other girl running and writing the paper,” Barsch said, laughing at the thought. “We had no adult to guide us, and we put out terrible product.”
She recalls begging professors for stories students had written for classes, in order to fill the pages of the paper. Although a challenge, these obstacles never caused Barsch to falter.
“She was so committed to doing things to improve the world,” said professor Bob Gershon. “And her tool to do that was usually the pen.”
Recently, Barsch has improved the world, or at least the state of Vermont, by selling her magazine and accepting the prestigious offer to become associate editor of Vermont Life.
And although leaving the magazine she has nurtured has proven to be difficult, Barsch looks back upon the journey fondly and with pride. She also knows that the new direction she has chosen was the right one.
“Leaving the magazine was like leaving my baby,” she said. “But this new job is a great opportunity for me. I will be contributing my product to the public, and whenever it gets tough, I remind myself why I write; to make a difference in the lives of readers.”