I went back to STRAPS sitting volleyball practice to help out again. This week had a different vibe than the previous practices that I have been to. There were a few more volunteers than usual but they weren't as experienced in volleyball as the "core" group of volunteers and players. This made the practice move a lot slower and less competitive as usual. It was interesting to see how that had an impact on the team as a whole.
Fun experience, got to serve breakfast to the homeless
I went to the sitting volleyball practice with STRAPS sports again this week. Everyone there is so much more competitive than I expected but the atmosphere remains light hearted and fun. Being able to volunteer with this team has made me enjoy playing the sport again.
As the sitting volleyball practices kick back up after the new year, I volunteered with STRAPS to help their team. I recognized most of the players who came, but I still saw a few new faces. I always enjoy stepping in and joining the team for practice as it forces me to reflect on my own time playing volleyball and allows me to see the sport from a different perspective.
During Winter Break ‘19-‘20, I volunteered for Mike Schulze and his team with the Outback Bowl. Mr. Schulze allowed me to assist them in ensuring the media portion of the Outback Bowl went smoothly. During the week, I learned what goes on behind the scenes in the making of a New Years Six Bowl game happen.
On Thursday December 26th, I arrived at the media hotel and helped with the pre-game requirements. I helped set up the media hospitality room, where the reporters relax before Bowl week events and write their stories. This set up involved a lot of grunt work, such as unloading a truck, hanging banners, and unfolding tables. After this was done, I began my main job for the next week: handing out credentials. When media personnel report on Bowl games they must get approval before the game and pick up proof of this approval. After receiving their credentials, reporters went to events such as Beach Day and bowling at Splitsville. I did not realize the extensive process media outlets went through in order to write articles. The big event that was written about was the press conference on Saturday.
On the day of the conference, reporters flooded the hotel for the arrival of the Minnesota and Auburn coaches, PJ Fleck and Gus Malzahn, respectively. During the conference, the coaches answered questions about their week in Tampa and their game plans. It was amazing to hear Coach Fleck speak. He is a true lover of the game as he spoke very eloquently and graciously about his team and his plan. Coach Malzahn was also great to hear, but it was clear the with Minnesota’s first 11-win season on the line, the Gophers were going to bring much more to the game than Auburn. After the conference, we spent the Monday and Tuesday preparing the press box of Raymond James Stadium for the game.
During the game, I was assigned the role of a runner. As a runner, I had to run around the press box and the stadium and bring the other staff members and media personnel whatever they needed. I enjoyed this position because I was allowed to run through an NFL stadium and see several areas most people would not. For example, I was able to run onto the field when Mr. Schulze needed some VIP passes for guests. Additionally, I had to bring stats sheets to the Associated Press writers room every quarter. After my time with the Outback Bowl, I now understand how the outlets post their stories as fast as they do. The handling of stats continued after the game.
During the post-game portion of the day, I got the chance to listen to the coaches again at the post-game press conference. Both coaches got the chance to speak and then the MVP, Tyler Johnson, got up and answered questions. It was inspirational how when Johnson answered questions about Coach Fleck, his coach started to tear up. That is the relationship a coach and a player should have! Additionally, after the conference, I ran transcripts from the copier to the writers. These transcripts are used to ensure quotes in the articles are correct before they’re published. Overall, experiencing this time with the Outback Bowl was very rewarding.
I am very happy I was able to volunteer with Mr. Schulze at the game this winter break. Through this opportunity, I was able to learn what goes on behind-the-scenes of a bowl game, and the large process it takes to provide the game’s media coverage. Finally, through the Outback Bowl, I got to work with experienced professionals in the sports media field.
My volunteering experience with RunTampa involved me assisting them set up for the Tinsel Run. RunTampa is my family’s running group and a friend of ours was the race director and needed help for two days. During this experience, I got to experience the sophistication of setting up a race.
The first day, I went to Tampa’s International Mall and helped with the packet pickups. These pickups were when the competing athletes came and confirmed their participation. Additionally, athletes received their bib number and t-shirts. During this process I noticed that several runners kept requesting to change shirts, asking to sign up new people, and several other things. It stood out to me that due to the sold out status of the race, we had to reject all of these requests. These rejections had to occur because our director, Loren Reed, did not have enough shirts not enough medals. If we had allowed new entrants, I would expect several complaints for lack of awards.
Before the race on Saturday, I had to come to the location at 5:30 in the morning. I assisted in unloading food, water, and awards. I also helped with last minute packet pickups before I ran myself. My family and I experienced several difficulties in finding the location, where things had to go, and continuing to stop any “bandit” runners from entering and stealing an award. I spoke with Loren after the race concluded and she told me that next year, with it being a bigger race, she will plan further in advance for the smaller details. Following this experience, I now have a greater appreciation for the sophistication in organizing a race.