Photographer & Picture Editor
When Mary Schroeder stepped into Detroit’s professional sports arena in 1983, it was a man’s world. At 26, Schroeder was the only female photographer in the country covering sports full time for a major newspaper. Weighed down with cameras and long lenses, she would spend the next decade competing with the army of men who dominated professional sports photography.
Schroeder came to the Free Press as an intern fresh out of school in 1979 and stayed for 40 years. She is best known for capturing a jubilant Kirk Gibson leaping in victory after his second home run in Game 5 of the World Series. It essentially clinched the game and the title for the ’84 Detroit Tigers.
She has been on the sidelines and the frontlines documenting some of Detroit’s most memorable athletes. She photographed Detroit Red Wings rookie Steve Yzerman at 19, folding laundry in his apartment, and then 13 years later as “Captain Forever” hoisted the Stanley Cup after the Wings broke their 42-year championship drought.
Schroeder helped bust gender barriers in 1985 as a plaintiff in a lawsuit asking that the Detroit Lions allow male and female reporters and photographers equal locker room access. The Lions agreed to “at all times and all places provide the same access to players, coaches and facilities to all accredited media representatives without regard to sex.”
Schroeder photographed presidents, dignitaries and a prayerful Mother Theresa visiting a new convent in Detroit. Later, she moved to editing, where she coached young journalists on photography, Detroit and Free Press history. She is a stickler for accuracy, and mentors interns, photographers, editors and web producers on the importance of accurate and detailed captions. Most importantly, Schroeder champions photography that touches lives and tells stories that matter.