BSU at the Games: Elite Athletes, Down to Earth Attitudes

22 student journalists from Ball State University have traveled to Sochi to act as sports reporters for the Winter Olympics, they are sharing their exclusive stories on the Work in Sports Blog, and giving us a taste of what it is like to cover one of the largest sports events in the world.

Written by Danielle Waggoner/BSU at the Games

sports reporters sports mediaWriting has always been my passion, and something I do whenever I have free time. When the opportunity to work as a sports reporter for BSU at the Games came about, there was no way I could say no.

The same week I joined the group in October, I traveled to Milwaukee with four others in BSU at the Games. We were sent there to interview Team USA speed skating hopefuls. I had never done sports reporting before, so I was nervous to be interviewing athletes so soon.

I’m generally an anxious person as it is and this trip was heightening my disquiet. Overriding all of that, though, was overwhelming elation.

I couldn’t wait to get started.

One Day at a Time

sports reporters covering Emery Lehman

17-year old Team USA speed skater Emery Lehman (Photo Courtesy: Yahoo Sports)

Numerous U.S. speed skaters train at Petit National Center in Milwaukee, which is where I sat down to interview 17-year-old Emery Lehman and his mother Marsha. Both were so humble about Emery’s triumphs, including an amazing finish at the junior world championships in Collalbo, Italy the previous season.

The Olympic Games in Sochi were not something either wished to talk about. They wanted to take each day at a time and not look too far into the future.

Emery told me his ultimate goal for the 2014 skating season was to beat his own time at the 2013 world championships. I was truly surprised when he didn’t respond with “win a gold medal at the Olympics”. If I had even a portion of the talent he has at his age, that most definitely would have been my answer.

But when I asked more about Sochi, he seemed sincere when he said it was pushed as far back in his mind as possible. He admitted he would love to make the Olympic team one day, but was optimistic about his chances in four years.

He didn’t want anything to happen before it was time.

I was watching the trials on television the night Emery made the Olympic team and felt a great sense of pride. I was so thankful to have been able to talk with him a few months before and learn about where he came from and where he wanted to go with his skating.

His attitude was inspirational.

Skiing in Indiana?

sports reporters covering nick groepper

American Freestyle Skier Nick Groepper (Photo Courtesy: Marcey Burton)

The chance to head to Perfect North Slopes in Lawrenceburg, Ind. to interview slopestyle skier and Indiana native Nick Goepper was presented to BSU at the Games in December.

Slopestyle has been a Winter XGames event since 2002, but hasn’t debuted at the Olympics until now in Sochi. I read some things on 19-year-old Goepper, watched some videos of him competing and couldn’t believe someone from mostly-flat Indiana could do what he does.

By the time we got to Perfect North the day after Christmas, Nick had been named to the first slopestyle skiing Olympic team. While there was an event being held at the slopes on that day, it was clear people were crowding around waiting for Nick.

To my surprise, talking to Nick was simple.

The interview was conversational and it went well. He was very happy to be there, and was ready to get to the Winter XGames in late January to try to defend his gold medal from the previous year.

Similar to Lehman, Goepper was able to focus on one day at a time. The poise and ease with which these two athletes spoke of their amazing feats and of what was to come of their careers motivated me to apply something similar to my life.

Being able to take a step back and enjoy each moment you are living in can be difficult, but it can help you in achieving your goals.


sports reporter danielle waggonerDanielle Waggoner is a junior at Ball State University in Muncie, IND. majoring in public relations.

She is currently acting as a sports reporter for BSU at the Games and one day hopes to work in entertainment public relations.

About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the sports media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for &

Recently, Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, do it.

And if you want to know where our privacy policy is before you submit your comments below, it's right here.