Edward Aschoff’s legacy as a beloved journalist, colleague and friend remains very much alive, and we celebrate that legacy at ESPN with the announcement Thursday that Grace Raynor of The Athletic has been named the recipient of the second annual Edward Aschoff Rising Star Award, which is presented by the Football Writers Association of America.
Aschoff, whom ESPN senior vice president Rob King called a “ray of light,” died on his 34th birthday on Christmas Eve 2019 from previously undetected Stage 4 non-Hodgkin lymphoma in his lungs. In Aschoff’s memory, the FWAA decided to recognize one promising journalist no older than 34 who has the talent and work ethic it takes to succeed in the business and the passion to make it better.
Raynor, 27, is a 2015 University of North Carolina graduate. She covers Clemson for The Athletic and begins her fifth season overall and third for The Athletic reporting on the Tigers this fall. She is the second writer from The Athletic to win the award; David Ubben was the first recipient in 2020 as a beat reporter covering Tennessee.
“For the second year we had numerous nominations of outstanding, talented young journalists who have shown so much promise and are at the head of their class, but Grace won over our panel in convincing fashion,” said 2021 FWAA president Heather Dinich, a senior writer at ESPN. “Upon learning she won, Grace promised me she would pay it forward and always help younger journalists along the way, truly capturing the spirit of the award — and our friend Ed.”
Deeply touched. ❤️
I’ve heard so many amazing stories about Ed, and in every one of them, I’ve learned so much about kindness and the way we should all treat each other. I hope to make him proud.
Thanks so much to my editor, @khairopoulos, who makes me a better writer every day. https://t.co/BsFN6Vovkr
— Grace Raynor (@gmraynor) August 19, 2021
Aschoff, a 2008 graduate of the University of Florida, began his career at ESPN working on the SEC blog. He was a terrific storyteller and even better bridge-builder with coaches, athletes, media colleagues, fans and everybody he met. He genuinely loved people, and even as his career at ESPN escalated into more of a national television role after moving to Los Angeles, he still guided and befriended young journalists along the way.
“Unfortunately, I never met Ed, but I feel like I’ve gotten to know him through my friends and colleagues who were lucky enough to spend time with him,” Raynor said. “In every story I’ve ever heard about him, I’ve learned that in addition to being an incredible reporter, Ed was a model for us about how to treat people. I’ve heard so many stories about his kindness, his big smile, the way he made people feel and how he’d do anything to help a young reporter coming up in our industry.
“I am deeply honored to receive this recognition in this way and hope I can make Ed proud. I would love to show the same generosity to others he seemed to so willingly share.”
Originally from Morganton, North Carolina, Raynor graduated from UNC’s journalism school after working for The Daily Tar Heel for four years. She also interned with The Fayetteville Observer and MLB.com twice, the latter through the Association for Women in Sports Media (AWSM). After her second MLB.com internship, she freelanced before getting her first job at The Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina.
Raynor covered general assignment sports for The Post and Courier before moving to cover Clemson in 2017. She has covered Clemson for The Athletic since February of 2019.