Indypendence Day

This post is going to be a marathon. (But hopefully not as terrible as running a marathon would be. Maybe more like a two and a half hour Harry Potter movie that you never want to end.)

This week I’ve been so busy. I’ve been running around like a cat that just had a particularly large dose of catnip. It’s the week before the USA Gymnastics Championships in Louisville, and everyone in the office has been going nonstop trying to get everything squared away so we’re prepared. But before I get into all of that I want to talk about my mini-vacation.

I went home two nights before the Fourth of July. It was my first time flying by myself, Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 9.03.30 PMbut everything went off without a hitch although the security lady did want to inspect my bun. We boarded the plane just as the sun was setting, so the majority of the hour-long flight was during dusk/nighttime. Let me say, I’m only flying at night from now on. It was exhilarating. The clouds, which had a dingy orange tint to them from the sunset, looked like the fluff you pick out of the bottom of the vacuum cleaner when it gets too full and stops working. Once it was dark, the cities glowed orange like a bad spray tan on a college co-ed gearing up for spring break. Houses and towers twinkled like stars. I’m a sucker for a starry night. It was mesmerizing, and I couldn’t look away. I need to get out more…

Anyway, once I got home, I visited with my parents some even though it was late. I also got to see my cat for the first time in four weeks! He bit me affectionately for a while. Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 9.03.19 PMTotally normal. On the Fourth of July, I woke up to my blaring alarm at 6 a.m. and got ready for the Peachtree Road Race. Now let me take a step back for a second. I am not a runner. Every year, for about 10 years now, I subject myself to this torture on July 4 just so I can get a T-shirt and lie around for the rest of the day. Every year I train some and then whip out a 6.2 mile run. Every year I’m sore afterwards — like so sore I can’t move. Every year I say never again. Don’t ask me why I do it. I must be crazy.

My time home, as it always seems, was too short. But that’s how it always is, isn’t it? I flew back to Indianapolis Sunday night and the next day started the busiest week of my life. This week I worked on a little bit of everything to get ready for Louisville next week. A lot of the things I did were to make life easier next week — my kind of work. I did everything from writing a field of competitors release for the championships (more than 1,600 competitors), which took about three days to get finalized and ready to send out to the media, reformatted a spreadsheet for ease when it comes to posting results, writing a Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 8.00.06 PMmedia opportunities release for the local media to let them know what each session contained and when it was and writing media advisories for the media day and kick-off celebration. I got to use my fancy Excel formula, which was exciting. Call me a nerd. Go on. The formula turns all that jumble in the picture into something like this when you plug it in: Elizabeth Grimsley, Decatur, Ga., and Caitlyn Stroh of Thomasville, Ga. both of University of Georgia.

I also worked on a lot of releases not having anything to do with the following week’s championships. Eddie Penev was awarded the USOC June Athlete of the Month, which I filled out the application for. Kerri Strug had her second child. The field of competitors was released for next week’s men’s national qualifier. The USOC announced the official delegation for the Youth Olympic Games, which includes four gymnasts. I also proofed releases coming in from France where Scott is covering the 2014 World Acrobatic Gymnastics Championships.

I sat in on a call with a local Louisville newspaper editor as he and Leslie discussed feature story ideas and media day for next week. I also had what felt like 50 meetings and cleaned out the stuff Scott no longer wanted from his old office so the new person moving into it would have a fresh start. I was even so busy Thursday, I almost forgot to eat. I definitely know what Nick means when he says sometimes it’s just so inconvenient.

Although this week was non-stop work, it should make next week a lot easier and a pretty fun event. I even get to take pictures of the gymnastics going on when I’m not doing anything else. I also made sure to plant the seed that if there was a feature story idea a reporter didn’t want to write about, I would be MORE than happy to write it up for the website. I’m hoping next week I’ll not only get to take some pictures of stunning gymnastics but write about those stunning gymnasts as well. Besides that, I’ll be coordinating media at the convention center during the day and helping Leslie with the task at the Yum! Center at night. I might also get to finally meet some of the trampolinists (trampoliners?) in real life that I interviewed for stories over the phone a while back.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with trampoline and tumbling, rhythmic or acrobatic gymnastics, here’s the brief lowdown. Trampoline and tumbling has three and a half disciplines basically. There’s individual trampoline, synchronized trampoline, power tumbling and double-mini. This is not your ordinary backyard trampoline. Rhythmic gymnastics is all about flexibility, dance, balances and dynamic movements. With rhythmic there’s individual and group routines. Its events for this quad are rope, hoop, ribbon and clubs. Then there’s acrobatic gymnastics. It’s similar to the stunt work done in cheerleading or the balancing acts you see in Cirque du Soleil shows. In acro there’s mixed pairs, women’s pairs, men’s pairs, women’s group and men’s group. While watching acro worlds live today, I was already envisioning pictures I could take next week.

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 9.11.32 PMThat’s pretty much it for now. Next week is going to be crazy, but I’m sure with it will come some great stuff to write about and even greater pictures to help tell the story. Until then, go watch some Potterhead Weekend on ABC Family.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the 20,000 Jahovah’s Witnesses at the convention at Lucas Oil Stadium across the street from my hotel this weekend. I’d say at least 100 of the foreign delegation is staying at my hotel. It’s lovely. I’ll leave you with that.

Luck-ed Out

“When you’re on your own, you look for signs. Sometimes you make them up, sometimes they’re actually there, but most of the time you can’t tell the difference from the two.” — Cecelia Ahern

I never said I was writing one of these once a week. However, it was implied… Punctuality is normally my thing, but alas, sometimes you just don’t feel like writing.

Last week was the start of week three at the internship. Although things weren’t as busy as they could have been, the week seemed to fly by. Monday was Olympic Day, so the office was all about the World Record being attempted in Pittsburgh (Spoiler alert: A new record was set!). Once we got the news about 735 participants having successfully cartwheeled at the same time (with no collisions or injuries), I filled in the blanks on the release and up it went on the website. I also took the initiative to create a Storify for the event. Although there were that many people tweeting from the Roberto Clemente Bridge, the tweets that did exist were quality ones. With that and my sleuthing skills on Twitter, I was able to find a good number of tweets and pictures from Pittsburgh to use in the curation. I think the final product turned out pretty well, and I hope USA Gym readers liked their first taste at a Storify as well. I also collected clips from all the places that published stories or videos on the World Record event in Pittsburgh. The World Record was seen internationally and was even on the Today Show. I’d say that’s successful promotion.

The press release trend continued with releases on some trampoline national team members traveling to Switzerland to compete (and how they did as well as some juniors that did well), Bill Cosby holding a benefit concert for the Temple men’s gymnastics program and a recap on the Gymnastics for All Nationals that were held in Orlando two weekends ago.

Oh and I almost forgot… There was a tornado warning for our county, which was just lovely! It was actually quiet interesting to watch unfold. Most of the women were talking and running around and talking about going to the basement or going home while most of the men stayed at their desks and continued to work. Funny little dynamic there. If you looked outside, you wouldn’t have been able to guess there was bad weather coming at all. Sure, it was cloudy, but there was no rain, no ominous clouds or anything like that. But from what I learned in my weather class, that doesn’t mean much. Afterward we learned a tornado touched town just outside Indianapolis, but the office and downtown area was fine. The rain we got yesterday was worse than the tornado last week if you want my opinion. The sky was dark like night and the rain so thick you couldn’t see the building next door. I could even hear the thunder rumbling from inside my little cubicle.

With all the excitement with the tornado out of the way, the next day I got to do something even more interesting — listen to a webinar on Google Grants and take notes to later share with the marketing department about the program. I kid with my sarcasm, though. It was actually pretty interesting and some of the things you can do with the program are pretty cool.

That’s pretty much all the work stuff I did last week besides the ususal scanning of pictures and other “get it done before you leave in August” tasks. I’ll be in Louisville for the USA Gymnastics Championships for seven days helping with the event. I even get some shirts and a jacket to wear while I’m there! For those of you who know me well, you know I looove apparel of any sort. I also get to go home TOMORROW for the Fourth of July! I’m more excited than words can say. It’s only been four-ish weeks, but it’s felt much longer. It’ll also be the first time I ride on a plane by myself. I’m not nervous since I’ve done it so many times before, but still. Intimidating at first.

As for non-work activities, I visited the Indianapolis Zoo Saturday. It’s similar to the Atlanta Zoo but has an aquarium (“ocean”) area and a brand new orangutan exhibit that’s pretty neat. There was also a short dolphin show that was pretty cool as well. Sunday was all about relaxing.

Counting down the hours until Georgia. Decatur. And The South.

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Hoosier Mama

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

IMG_3823 Another week is gone and the pace definitely picked up just as my boss said it would. I was going non-stop for what felt like every moment of each day. From meetings to releases to planning and prep for Monday’s Olympic day and this weekend’s Rhythmic National Qualifier, it was one hectic week.

At the beginning of the week, which feels like an eternity ago, I drafted up skeleton releases for the rhythmic national qualifier happening this weekend. The top junior and senior finishers will go on to the USA Gymnastics Championships in Louisville in mid-July. I also wrote the field of competitors release and learned a pretty cool trick with Excel that automatically put the names into the format we use on that release (Elizabeth Grimsley, Decatur, Ga./Atlanta Gymnastics Center). I might have nerded out a bit with how cool it was… I also wrote about the recent success some of the rhythmic national team members have had internationally as well as a preview for the Gymnastics For All National Championships happening in Orlando, Fla. this weekend.

I also tried my hand at fact sheets for the USA Gymnastics Championships and P&G Championships, which are basically documents saying everything people involved with the events need to know about said events — times, schedule, location, contact info, etc. There was also a release on the T&T scholarship winners and an article for the magazine on the T&T competitors at the Elite Challenge. If I can’t call myself an expert at writing press releases by the end of this summer, something will have gone terribly wrong. I am still trying to get used to the “no fluff” approach.

IMG_3747On Thursday, I got out of the office for lunch with two of the girls in the office. One of them works with Steve Penny and the other works in the women’s program. She’s basically the Hagrid of the office being the keeper of keys/secrets with the women’s program. But of course, we’re not allowed to know any of the juicy information, haha. We ate at a place called Potbelly, which had sandwiches and soup and whatnot. It was nice spending time with people closer to my age/with people in general and not eating at my desk and reading on my iPad during lunch. I also though it was funny that they thought it was so hot and humid outside when it was only in the mid-80s. Normally I’m the one saying how hot it is, but this is nothing compared to Georgia! The fact that it can rain at any moment is more like home though. I swear it can be sunny one moment and then downpour the next. It did cause some amazing sunsets though.

Back at the office the planning and preparation for tomorrow’s Olympic day celebration and cartwheel world record attempt was in high gear. I wrote up a release previewing the whole celebration and how USA Gymnastics was involved as well as one to use after we break the world record if all goes well. I also got to think of a hashtag for people to use at the event and photoshopped signs reminding people to use that hashtag when posting to social media. I might also get to do a Storify of the event! Finally something I’m good at and that’s exciting! I also had my fair share of “intern” duties with looking up and making sure the former FIG U.S. representative’s information was correct as well as more scanning and proofing. I really do enjoy proofing though. Call me crazy.

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As for non-work related stuff, I had a busy Saturday! A guy I met in the workout room from Puerto Rico told me the NCAA Hall of Champions museum was very cool, so that tipped me over the edge on whether or not to do that this weekend. He was right, though. The bottom floor had a display for all 23 NCAA sports as well as a TV for each with trivia, multimedia, a list of colleges and other stuff about the sports. Who knew bowling, rifle shooting and skiing were NCAA sports? Of course, I gravitated toward the gymnastics section. The Gym Dogs were rightfully featured, but the information was outdated and obviously created in 2008 after the team’s four-straight NCAA title but before the last of the streak. Although I’m a gym-junkie, learning about all of the various sports was very cool. Then, the second floor was more interactive with a basketball hoop, climbing rope, rings, a ski simulator, station to call wresting pin-downs, as well as fencing spears (???), pole vaulting poles and javelins to feel how light each are.

IMG_3912After that, I hit up the Eiteljorg Museum for the Ansel Adams exhibit, which was simply fantastic. I can’t say enough good words about it. The prints were fantastic and so crisp and clear and the exhibit had many prints I had never seen before. But it wasn’t just the prints. Quotes from Adams about how he shot some of the images and what was going on when he did and the processes he went through in the darkroom as well as facts about him in general were scattered around the rooms. I will go back in a heartbeat if I find I have time. I also managed my second Chich-fil-a visit in as many weeks and got semi-tan versus red for once! Today’s all about relaxing, spending time in the sun if it doesn’t rain and actually reading some for fun before another hectic week starts again.

IMG_3679I also forgot to mention how the baseball game was last Sunday. A couple words describe it well — hot, murder. The braves got killed and it was a scorcher. But overall it was fun, so that’s all that matters, right? I really enjoyed Victory Field — and my seats weren’t too shabby either as I was two rows back from home plate for only $15. The park overlooks the Indianapolis skyline and there’s a nice lawn i the outfield. I would definitely go back.

On tap is a feature on Youth Olympic Games rhythmic gymnast Laura Zeng, more help with the International Triathlon Union’s 25th anniversary (back from my sports media relations class) as well as Monday’s Olympic Day and much, much more. Only a week and a half until I come home for the Fourth!

Until next time.

Hard Indy Paint

“Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.”  ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

photo 1It has begun. My summer adventure up north in Indianapolis interning for USA Gymnastics begins tomorrow, and there are so many thoughts and emotions going through my head. I’m excited, but most of all I’m nervous. It’s less nerves for the whole thing as getting things started the first day. As those of you who know me know, I’m an extreme introvert and don’t especially like change at all. Driving to something for the first time, eating somewhere for the first time, going somewhere new for the first time, not knowing the schedule of the day ahead — it all gives me anxiety until I’ve done it. Every time I realize I have nothing to worry about, but I still get worried without fail.

Friday, my mom and I dr0ve up from Atlanta through Tennessee, Kentucky and into Indiana to get to Indianapolis. Although it took us about nine hours, it didn’t feel like that bad of a drive. Maybe that was because I didn’t do any of the driving. That night we explored the area, searching for Targets, grocery stores and the office building I would be spending most of my time at for the next two months. We ended up finding a Target and getting most of the stuff there since I didn’t bring everything I needed from the ATL. Plus, I have a kitchen and no meal plan to make all my meals for me, so I’m going to have to cook like a real, live adult… at least until August.

photo 2The place I’m staying at is interesting — well, at least the other residents are. The elevator also looks like it’s straight out of a horror movie the way it opens up slowly and squeakily. It’s an extended stay hotel format of living with a pool, so that’s a plus. The workout room, if you can even call it that, makes Ramsey look like something you might find in the White House or a castle, which I guess it kind of is. Needless to say, my workouts are going to get interesting. I’m definitely not running in the area around my place so the treadmill and three weight machines (I shudder just thinking of it) are going to be my best friends for a while. Or at least until after the Peachtree then the treadmill may get toss by the wayside like a blouse your grandmother gave you that you only wear to make her happy.

Saturday, we drove around downtown, which is actually really nice. Too bad I can’t live there. That would be convenient and about 100 times nicer than where I’m at. But I’m not complaining. We stopped by the downtown mall to check it out, grabbed lunch and found a nice grocery store for me to go to. We also went over to another mall for some relaxation time and cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory. I can tell you I needed some comfort by that point.

photo 4Today, Mom and I looked around at the Indiana State Museum before I had to take her to the airport to head back to Atlanta. I’m not usually a fan of museums, but this one had its bright spots. There were exhibits for space, the ice age, and fossil stuff, which was pretty interesting. After that I had to take mom to the airport while scoping out the place myself for when I have to fly home for the Fourth of July (first time flying alone!). After leaving her at security, I was officially all alone in a new city. Intimidating to say the least.

I’m sure there will be more to report tomorrow after my first day on the job. I think the first day will mainly be filling out paperwork, learning my duties and settling in, but you never know what to expect. This weekend I’m also planning on hitting up an Indianapolis Indians baseball game. The Indians are a Pirates AAA-affiliate, so it should be some good baseball. It also just so happens to be the Gwinnett Braves they’re playing against, so that’s fun. See! Indianapolis isn’t all bad! it’s also home of the NCAA Hall of Champions and an Ansel Adams exhibit at the Eiteljorg Museum.

Stay tuned.