Hart School of Hospitality, Sport and Recreation Management

Behind the Scenes of Olympic Glory

by Stephen Briggs

Olympic sign in snow at night - 2018 Winter Olympic Games - PyeongChang

SUMMARY: Two recent Hart School grads provide support for US Olympic athletes at the 2018 PyeongChang games.

Just as the dream of many athletes is to compete in the Olympic games, those involved in sports and recreation management dream of doing their part for those on the world stage. At the 2018 PyeongChang games, Sylvia Lee and Jennifer Nelson, both ’14 Sports and Recreation Management graduates, got to live that dream and bring some helpful Dukes spirit with them. 

Sylvia Lee at the 2018 Winter Olympic GamesSylvia Lee, who is currently a Masters of Tourism Administration student at George Washington University, was hired as an independent contractor for VISA’s VIP Hospitality Lounge, and also volunteered with the USOC at their USA House. She describes her time there as “definitely an incredible experience. To combine my love for sports with my love for event planning, at a global event in a country where both my parents are from, it seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” 

Lee’s Korean language skills were valuable as well. “It was probably much easier for me to navigate than others because I am able to speak both English and Korean fluently - once people found this out, I was used as a translator a lot too.” The opportunity also proved invaluable to her current course of study. “What was interesting was for me to be able to compare the event management norms while working in a US hotel and working in a Korean hotel.” 

Jennifer Nelson at the 2018 Winter Olympic GamesJennifer Nelson attended the games as a volunteer with Team Processing, where the arriving athletes are outfitted with their official gear. For her, the trip represents the culmination of a great deal of dedication. “Being part of the Olympic movement has always been a huge passion for me. Four years ago, I attended the first ever United States Olympic Committee internship symposium in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Training Center. The following year, I attended again and eventually landed an internship with USA Taekwondo for the summer of 2015 where I gained great experience and met a lot of people along the way.” 

After graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Masters in Sport Leadership, she took a position with the United States Tennis Association Northern California as an Adult League Coordinator. At PyeongChang, she says, “The atmosphere was unreal. Every time I met someone from the USA we instantly became friends since we shared a special bond across the world. I attended the Opening Ceremony, USA’s Women’s Hockey, Curling, Men’s Freestyle Ski halfpipe final and several Canadian Men’s hockey games.” 

Nelson sums up the feeling of many of the volunteers that help make the US participation in the games possible: “This may be an unpaid position but it’s value is immeasurable. The next Olympics are in Tokyo 2020 and I plan on volunteering and attending again!”

Published: Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 13, 2018

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