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Meet the Minnesota journalist who pioneered covering women's sports

Meet legendary Minnesota sports journalist Charles Hallman
Meet legendary Minnesota sports journalist Charles Hallman 05:18

MINNEAPOLIS — There couldn't be any more interest in women's basketball, and Charles Hallman's been following it all. 

He's written for the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder for decades and has had a front-row seat. He's covered anything and everything, but focuses on basketball. 

"You know, what (Caitlin) Clark is an aberration shooting that far away," Hallman said. "JuJu Watkins reminds me a lot of Seimone Augustus. She had that build, she goes to the basket. She's going to be the new flavor of the month." 

Hallman is already ready for the 2025 women's college basketball season to start. 

"ESPN is signing out a reporter on one player. That's unheard of. There's more exposure on it. It could be better, OK," he said. "I still think that the coverage is still treated somewhat like they're special as opposed to treating them being critical. It needs to be critical. And then you know, I still see that unevenness in women's coverage."

Hallman has covered everything throughout his 30-year career with the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. Stories on race and politics are commonplace, but one interview really stands out. 

"Coretta Scott King, yeah, which I'd never forget, interviewed her one-on-one," he said.

Hallman could have had a different life. He grew up just a mile from Hitsville, U.S.A., Motown Records' original headquarters in Detroit, Michigan.

"And so walking home, yeah, you run into them all the time. I went to school with one of Aretha Franklin's sons, and then I went to school with Berry Gordy's niece and nephew, yeah, it was twins. And yeah, I went to school with some famous people," he said.  

Charles Hallman WCCO

Instead, Hallman went to Michigan State. It was there he found his calling. 

"At orientation, I met some young ladies who played for the basketball team at Michigan State and we got to know each other. So they would tell me, 'Come watch the games,'" he said. "At that time, games were free. This was before the NCAA took over women's sports. So I watched the game and I enjoyed it. But there were nobody there covering them, you know. Wonder why."

Here's what Hallman won't tell you: He's been honored by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association; the University of Minnesota's Tucker Center put him on its Title IX Honor Roll; and he's been inducted into the U.S. Basketball Writer's Association's Hall of Fame. 

That last honor proved to be a little much for Hallman. It's why he asked his retired pastor to bless him.

"He said, 'You'd never promoted yourself, you always put everybody ahead of you. So now God telling you, you need your reward now,'" he said. "And when he told me that, that made it a little bit easier. It's still hard." 

On any given Friday night, you can find Hallman in the Target Center media room, several hours before the Minnesota Timberwolves tip-off. It's where WCCO's A.J. Hilton first met Hallman more than 20 years ago as a young college student.

"At one point you asked if I was at school what I was doing, I was a journalism major," Hilton told Hallman. "You insisted I try to talk with Wolves to see if there are any opportunities. You insisted a few more times to put me in touch with a few people. And I wrote after that:

'I've never forgotten your kindness, and can't tell you how appreciative I was for your gesture. While I never did anything with sports, I did go into news. It made a huge impression on me to see a Black media professional in the Twin Cities as the numbers are quite small, more so on television. Your persistence gave me some of my motivation. Some people in school used to tell me I couldn't do this, so to be honest, even though you probably may have never said much to me, you helped to restore my confidence.'

"So you don't even realize it, the small gesture that you played in shaping everything that's come together in my life as well. So I have to tell you, thank you," Hilton said.

"Thank you," Hallman said. "You reaffirm what my pastor said, that you get rewarded in ways that you would never realize if you just do what you're supposed to do." 

What's next for Hallman? There's one thing still on his list.

"I've never covered the NBA Finals before, I'd love to. I've covered the WNBA finals, I've covered bowl games, I covered Big Ten stuff. But I never covered the NBA Finals. I got denied the '03-'04, that was the Hallman home series for me. But I would like to cover it."

Hallman was also a fixture as a teacher in St. Paul Public Schools for 20 years. 

He also just wrapped up his 29th year as an assistant coach at Minneapolis South High School. This year, the team made it to the state tournament. They lost in the quarterfinals by two points.

Hallman says he'll be back next year to teach on the court.

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