Last week I had the opportunity to volunteer with the media team for the U.S. Figure Skating National Championships in Greensboro, N.C. I thoroughly enjoyed my time, learning about a sport that I’ve always just been a spectator for.
As a volunteer I assisted with escorting skaters from the Kiss and Cry (where they receive their scores) to the media mix zone to be interviewed by journalists. I also helped record their comments to be later used as quotes. In addition, after every competition session there was a press conference for the top three competitors. For this, I assisted with set-up and also ran the microphone to the media to ask questions.
One of the biggest things I enjoyed while volunteering was getting a chance to know the athletes. Granted, it was mostly through interviews and press conferences, but I loved getting to know them as more than someone I saw compete on tv. It was nice to hear them talk about their training, the story behind their programs and their goals for the season.
As far as communications experience, I learned how quickly you must act during a live competition and a nationally televised event. Everything is rapid fire and requires a lot of planning and communication. You must keep track of athletes, pay attention to the scores and know who the journalists want to talk to. I also learned a lot about the sport technically – like terms of elements in the programs and the different between pairs, dancing and novice/junior/senior. I loved being thrown into a situation and trying to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible.
As a media volunteer, I was in the media workroom often. I liked seeing how the media work during a competition, with photographers on one side to use the ethernet cords, while journalists wrote using wi-fi. They were always provided with food and tvs showing what was going on the ice. They also had access to stands at the ice rink to write while they were watching.
The skaters continuously said they enjoyed the city of Greensboro, and felt that it was a very welcoming environment. There were banners on the street lights and the fans were good too.
It was fun to be part of something on a national level and know that I helped make the event run smoothly. The staff, media, other volunteers and skaters were great to work with. The championships were a great atmosphere and had lots of energy because it is a national competition and I hope I can work with something similar in the future.
This put a new idea in my head about working with sports communications. I have always been interested in gymnastics, but having this experience at a competition made me think this is an option for a career.