As I stepped onto the tube for the first time in months at Chancery Lane in Central London I felt a familiar tingle of excitement. After studying abroad in London this past spring semester, anything I could possibly want was in reach again.
During that time, I learned where to go to find the things that make me happy in this city. Whether it’s a pint at the Scottish brewer, Brewdog in Camden Town, a gourmet burger from the Lucky Chip in Hackney or a place to sit and think at the top of Primrose Hill, I know how to make myself comfortable.
Returning to London for the Olympics after living here for the first three months of the year has been such a treat and put me ahead of the game[s]—literally. For this reason, I don’t think I could pick a city I’d rather report from. The tube is simple, the pace of life is quick and the friendliness of Londoners and foreigners sharing the city is endless.
During my time studying at the City of Westminster College, I began to feel like I was coming home after returning from trips across Europe, and it didn’t feel any different as I made my way into London earlier this week.
After my experience here, there was no doubt in my mind that London would display itself in a grand way for this year’s Olympic Games. This was proven to me Saturday evening when a group of BSU at the Games journalists and I watched the fireworks blast off from Olympic stadium in Stratford, signaling the start of this celebration of togetherness, diversity and sport.
After this year’s Games, the world will recognize London as the beautiful, vibrant and relevant city I know it is.
Jack Meyer | Features Reporter
What I’m getting at is that reverie, my friends, can be a wonderful instigator of travel. It always wins. So, I did what any avid daydreamer would do and signed up for my first trip to Budapest, Hungary.
I’d be lying if I said I had any idea where Budapest was when I signed up. It wasn’t until after the initial meeting I finally decided to Google the place. Call it impulse or whatever you want, but it really didn’t matter where I was going, what mattered was that I was going. It was the thrill of a new adventure—and that feeling took over.
A few months later, I packed my things, boarded a plane and jetsetted across the Atlantic with five strangers. Aside from a few roadblocks (namely, food poisoning and ringworm) the trip was phenomenal and fueled my inner traveler more than daydreaming ever could.
A lot changed for me during the trip. I suddenly felt undereducated. You can only learn so much without experiencing something first hand. All of the sudden I was consumed by the depths of a culture outside my own. I was thrown into a part of the world so different than mine. It was scary, yet inspiring. It was my ignorance of foreign land that ignited something in me: I should always yearn for international perspective, if for nothing else than personal enlightenment.
That’s why when Ryan Sparrow first talked to me about joining the group going to London for the 2012 Summer Olympics, I couldn’t say no. (I would be CRAZY to say no!) It didn’t take much to convince me. Actually, 10 minutes after he brought it up, I called my parents. Their response: “You’d be crazy not to go.” I think you know how the rest of the chapter goes.
So now I sit here, awaiting the next chapter of my journey. We have a few more weeks to go until we leave for London, and I can hardly contain my excitement. Not only does this trip mean I get to visit Europe again, it means I get to attend a gathering of the world’s finest athletes. It’s surreal.
My expectations, you ask?
The truth is, I don’t have any plans or expectations. Plans will find me and my expectations will be met.
I am excited to travel with a group of talented and extraordinary students. I am excited to immerse myself in yet another European culture. But most importantly, I am excited to see the world come together for no other reason than a soccer game, a triathlon or badminton match.
The way I see it, there is really only one question to ask: Are we there yet?
Jena Levy | Public Relations
Today Anne Marie Tiernon and her WTHR crew came up to Ball State to shoot some footage of BSU at the Games, a task that I told our team while recruiting them would take no more than an hour. Two hours of filming later, I’m in awe of the things I learned and just how much potential this project has.
Anne Marie is a force to be reckoned with. She is poised, confident and extremely knowledgeable in her trade. And though I’m not going down the news-reporting path, I found that watching her work and hearing her “tips from the real world” were immensely helpful for anyone who will ever work with the media.
After my star struck phase began to pass, I also realized what an awesome experience I’m
getting as a public relations student in this program. I just planned/organized/managed a media shoot for an NBC affiliate. I will work directly with WTHR in London to make sure our partnership is operating smoothly. Anne Marie told me I was very well-organized. WOW. I couldn’t buy this kind of portfolio work.
After my PR-nerd phase wore off, I began thinking, ‘WE ARE A BIG FREAKING DEAL!’ BSU at the Games has become a project of scope I could have never imagined. Honestly, I just wanted to go to London and see King Henry VIII’s castles. I had no idea—as I’m sure no one else could have—the outrageous media attention we would receive or connections we would make. Social media brings me new surprises every day. Like 135 retweets on a post we made about equestrian. I have never seen that many retweets in my life! Athletes taking time out of their busy day to talk to students. And not just Indiana athletes—Olympians from around the nation… the globe even!
I think all of this attention boils down to the bottom line that we are meeting our goal. We wanted to be different. We wanted to provide coverage and spawn relationships that were different. We wanted to share stories of the people, places and culture of the Games—not just the score. Athletes love us, media praises us, other students want to be us. And I believe it’s all because of this mission.
Can’t wait to see what’s in store as we cross the pond!
Kait Buck | Public Relations
Starting these things is always the hardest part, so I decided this would be the easiest way to do it. I am very excited to be traveling to London for the Olympics! To prepare this summer, I have been working with media on freelance work for our reporters and photo people, as well as bragging to my friends. One thing I am really nervous about though is flying. I am not what you would call a comfortable flyer and am typically on edge the whole flight. Considering this will be an eight-hour flight, I’m sure you can understand the anxiety. That still won’t stop me from going though!
While we are over there I think it would be awesome to see a Team USA basketball game or a soccer (or football, depending who is reading this) game. Those two also will be some of the most expensive tickets, along with swimming and gymnastics. Really, when I think about it though, I would be interested in going to any event. All of these athletes are the best in the world and I’m sure they are able to entertain.
Another thing I’m nervous about is what American songs I will be able to sing around London. Most other countries have traditional pub, sports or just leisure songs that everyone from the country knows. I have been thinking about it and I can’t think of any old-time traditional songs that I will be able to pull out, besides “American Pie.” This is something that I am really not very nervous about but yet VERY nervous about at the same time … Weird feeling.
My overall feeling about the trip though would be described as bubbling excitement. I have never been to Europe, never been to the Olympic Games and never had the opportunity to do the work I am doing with this trip. It is the trifecta.
Jordan Dimit | Public Relations Team
My classmates and I won’t be landing in London to cover the 2012 Games for another 46 days, but our work behind the scenes is already well underway. Another chapter in our preparation for the London Games will take place this week as we visit the Visa Championships at Chaifetz Arena at Saint Louis University.
Seeing that I’m from St. Louis, Chaifetz Arena is just a short drive down I-64. Having this fantastic opportunity is beyond what words can describe.
The Visa Championships will feature men’s and women’s gymnastics, with gymnasts in both the junior and senior divisions. This week-long event will determine the U.S. champions, as well as which gymnasts advance to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, which are scheduled for June 28 through July 1 in San Jose, Calif.
This year’s event marks the second time the Visa Championships have been held in St. Louis; the last time was in 2000.
Today is media day, with multiple training sessions open to reporters as well as opportunities to interview the gymnasts prior to competition, which begins Thursday and concludes on Sunday.
As I sit alongside the balance beams and bars sifting through the profiles of all these remarkable athletes, I take a minute to reflect on what I’m doing and how I got here. I’m within a few feet of these athletes who could be heading to London to compete for a gold medal. These are the best gymnasts this country has to offer. How cool is that? I’m most looking forward to having the opportunity to interview a few of these athletes and write about them.
One gymnast that caught my attention is Brenna Dowell of Odessa, Mo. Dowell is a member of Great American Gymn. Express and has been on the women’s national team for one year. Dowell brings a hefty résumé into the Visa Championships. She tied for fifth in vault, placed sixth in the all-around, uneven bars and came in eighth in the floor exercise in the junior division during the 2011 Visa Championships in St. Paul, Minn. Dowell tied for third in vault and placed fifth in the all-around and uneven bars in the 2011 CoverGirl Classic in Chicago. She also competed in the 2010 Visa Championships in Hartford, Conn., placing fourth in the uneven bars in the junior division. In 2009, she tied for first in the vault and tied for second in the all-around free exercise during the Women’s Junior Olympic Level 10 National Championships.
Another athlete that caught my eye is Sarah Finnegan, a native of St. Louis. Finnegan, also a member of Great American Gymn. Express, will compete in the women’s artistic program. Finnegan placed second in the free exercise during the 2012 Secret U.S. Classic in Chicago. She also finished third in the all-around junior division during the 2011 Visa Championships in Saint Paul, Minn.
So as I continue to sit along media row, I ponder the possibilities of what I can accomplish on this day, the interviews I can conduct, the precious stories I can write and I can’t forget about the athletes, who’s stories are so remarkable. From just skimming the roster, I’ve noticed a pair of athletes from my home state, which is awesome. Having the opportunity to go to the U.S. Olympic Trials by winning the Visa Championships in your home state has to be exciting.
After all, the Visa Championships are in my own backyard and I’m looking forward to taking full advantage of every interview I get, story I write and connection I make.
Tyler Poslosky | Sports Reporter
So for our spring Olympics class, I put together a presentation on how to pack for a long trip abroad–mostly from the perspective of being a terrible, terrible packer. You know, someone who doesn’t break their new shoes in ahead of time, grossly overestimates their upper-body strength and dresses entirely inappropriately for the weather. (I also get sick on all forms of moving transportation. I should hate traveling! And yet I adore it.)
Learn from my mistakes!
1.) On a three-week trip to Italy once, I insisted on wearing a lovely pair of black leather boots, which not only gave me bleeding blisters but also disintegrated off my feet in the Venice rain. I then bought a replacement pair on the road that, while beautiful and costing as much as my first car, caused me to come home and make multiple visits to a podiatrist. And I was in my early 20s.
So just wear sneakers. Everyone wears sneakers now, even stylish Europeans. I mean, not big white gym-shoe sneakers, and not those beautiful European women you’ll see tottering through historic ruins on their stilettos. But your feet will feel better than theirs. Trust me on this.
2.) A few years ago, because I fear boredom and like related reading material, I traveled around the entire country of Ireland with the complete works of William Butler Yeats, the complete works of Lady Gregory, the complete works of James Joyce and a stack of Eyewitness Travel books that weighed approximately 17 pounds each. Strangers had to help me get my travel tote into the overhead. And I read a total of about four pages.
But this summer I will be taking my new Kindle, which not only can hold the entirety of English literature (and even some travel books) but weighs nothing and only costs 80 bucks. So if I lose it, I don’t have to cry. At least not much.
3.) The last time I went to the UK, in summer 2010, I had a 2-year-old with me and didn’t even attempt to pack light. That’s how I ended up claiming a black duffel bag filled with diapers, table salt, shampoo, hand sanitizer, peanut-butter crackers, socks, plastic bags and microwave popcorn at the Birmingham airport. Which is totally something you want to deal with after you fly eight hours with a 2-year-old.
News flash: They sell things in Europe! You can get toothpaste and nail clippers there! You are not going on a trek to the undiscovered North Pole. So buy stuff there. And the packages will be different and it won’t cost much more and it will be fun.
Remind me of all this next week when I start packing.
Colleen Steffen l Features Editor
I know a lot of people are excited to see the Olympic Games and to experience them for themselves, but for me the Games are going to be my job while I’m there. As a photographer I find it difficult to really enjoy an event that I am covering since I’m so focused on what’s going on. Where do I need to be for this shot? Where do I think the action is going to happen? What do I need to do to get the effect that I want? And even though I may not cover any actual sporting event, covering the action surrounding the Olympic Games will make them part of my job.
This isn’t a bad thing, but it does mean that I am tending to look outside the main events for the pleasure-seeking part of my trip. For me, one of the more exciting parts of going to the U.K. will be the possibility of going to explore the land of my ancestors: Wales. My family on my father’s side is Welsh and German. I traveled to Germany my junior year of high school, and ever since then I’ve wanted to go to Wales to be able to say that I’ve visited the country where my family name comes from.
Being able to make this connection with my ancestral culture and heritage is one of the things I’m looking forward to this summer. Of course, I’m excited to be covering the Olympic Games and getting to see the best that London has to offer, but I’m a person of simple taste, making it the awesome cherry on top of my cultural sundae.
I’m also a fan of cricket. Yes, that’s the weird British sport with the big paddles for bats and the sticks with the funny name. However, being an American makes for a dull life as a cricket fan. For the past couple of years I have been forced to enjoy my cricket matches at 3 in the morning while yelling at my Internet for freezing on a key play of the match. So another exciting thing for me is that I might be able to see a real professional cricket match in person, something that I am saving my money for already.
There are so many things to look forward to, and I can’t really list all of them, but these are the two things that I think will make me the happiest. Of course I could always be surprised, which is something that I wouldn’t mind.
Bobby Ellis | Photographer
So I waited to write this blog on the flight home for two reasons: 1) because these past six days for me have been so fast-paced I haven’t had time and 2) I honestly didn’t know what I would say, so I figured I’d use it as reflection. I’ll do my best to keep you guys entertained.
I first wanted to give a shout out to Pat, C.T., Brandon, Ryan, Emily (Thompson) and Emily (Barker) for somehow figuring out a way to make this flight in the first place with minutes to spare … Don’t ask.
I remember walking to class months ago when Ryan came up to me about the idea of traveling to London for the Olympic Games. If I said I wasn’t skeptical at first, well, I’d be lying. But after these past few days working alongside some of the top journalists in the country and speaking with some of the best athletes in the world, it’s safe to say I made the right decision to jump on board.
Being the only college students at the 2012 Team USA Media Summit, I assumed we wouldn’t get a fair chance. I assumed we would be shoved to the side and given limited access. Not the case—not even close. We had just as much of an opportunity to speak with the big athletes as anyone else, and we took full advantage of that.
As I registered, the lady behind the desk goes, “Oh, Ball State? We’ve heard about you guys.” We were respected. People knew who we were and we’d just arrived.
Perhaps the defining moment for all of us was the opening reception. There we were, a bunch of college kids (plus C.T. and Ryan) sitting at a table as America’s top athletes strolled on by. Having athletes come up to me and say they loved my USA Diving piece on Thomas Finchum … nothing can beat that. Nothing.
Interviewing one of the world’s top boxers, Errol Spence, Jr., in the middle of a boxing ring in downtown Dallas, are you kidding me? I’m just a college kid, I shouldn’t have these opportunities— but for whatever reason, I do. And amidst it all I never once took it for granted. I’ll admit I may or may not have gotten flustered when Olympic Beijing gold medalist Nastia Luikin stepped into the room. That’s because, well … no comment.
I could go on forever. I could sit here 30,000 feet up and ramble on about this trip and go through every connection I made or every amazing athlete I came across, but I won’t because I don’t know how long blogs typically go and I feel like I’m near that limit.
BSU at the Games has a chance to do something special here. We have the chance to build our résumés and gain experience in ways other college students will only dream of. This is our chance to stand out from the rest of the universities and show them what we do in sports media and journalism at Ball State. Let’s embrace this opportunity and hold onto it. I know I am. See you guys in London.
2014 Russian Winter Games … Any takers? I’m down.
Josh Blessing | Sports Reporter
As a former gymnast myself, I was most excited about having the opportunity to talk to some of the U.S.’s top gymnasts at the Media Summit in Dallas. Even though we had been waking up early the past few days, I felt full of energy because the atmosphere was so exciting.
Having the chance to talk to Olympians Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson and Jonathan Horton was a dream come true. In 2008 I watched them compete in Beijing and saw them win their medals, so it was an honor to be in the same room with them. At first talking to them was extremely intimidating because they are such a big deal to me, but after a few minutes they just felt like regular people.
When I was watching the 2008 Olympic Games, I was 16 years old, the age of many of the contenders for a spot on the 2012 team. They are only in high school, and yet they have the chance to represent the United States in the biggest athletic event in the world. That blows my mind.
Jordyn Wieber, 16, said the pressure doesn’t really get to her because she competes all the time and she is ready for the trials. This was the case with several of the athletes; they handle their nerves like veterans, yet they are only teenagers.
Dallas has been such an amazing experience for me and I am even more excited about getting to London in July.