A Royal Adventure

By: Kristina Hart, Living Sport London 2018 Participant & Media Relations Intern at the University of Maryland Athletic Department


We walked up to a majestic building, standing tall and wide with pointed tips on the roof. It towered over us, looking very similar to a castle. This we were told, was our home for the next nine days. The Royal Holloway University was nothing like I had ever seen before. It was in fact, the very opposite of what I had come to know as a typical college dormitory in the United States. In that moment, I have to admit, I felt a little bit like royalty. After a 3,500-mile journey, with 27 strangers, to a country I had never been, I couldn’t have been more excited for what was ahead in my Living Sport experience.


A few days into our trip we began our work with the Royal Windsor Triathlon. On day one, I was lucky enough to get to explore Windsor. My job was distributing letters to houses around the town to ensure everyone was aware of road closures and parking enforcements for race day. I never really considered how important a task like this was in ensuring a smooth triathlon for residents in the race area. In addition to this role, I had other tasks that taught me a crucial lesson – thinking of how to prevent every possible worst-case scenario when organizing an athletic event of this magnitude.


My second work day I was assigned to registration, which as a Communications major, fit perfectly. What made the experience even better, was the opportunity I had to work closely with the former event owner, Jasmine Flatters. Jasmine had previously been awarded an MBE, Member of the Order of the British Empire. This is a prestigious British honor given to a person by the Queen for a special achievement, and in Jasmine’s case, for all of her work and dedication in the British Triathlon world. In speaking with Jasmine, she gave me some words of wisdom like telling me to enjoy every moment and to talk to everyone I meet, because I never knew when I would get that opportunity again. I took this to heart and interacted with all of the athletes picking up their race day gear. Sure enough, I learned new words from the athletes and registration workers. For instance, a line is referred to as a “que”, and “cheers” can mean thank you, you’re welcome, or a variety of things depending on the scenario. 

Something else fascinating I learned that day was that having “Royal” in the title of the race, was a huge deal. It hadn’t been long since the event name switched from the Windsor Triathlon to the Royal Windsor Triathlon. Again, I didn’t think much of it. But quickly learned this was a major accomplishment. In the United Kingdom, the use of the word “Royal”, as well as the use of “King,” “Queen,” “Prince/Princess,” and “Duke/Duchess” in the name of a business, company or product must be granted special permission. This is said to be done to avoid misleading the public. To secure approval you must send an application to the Cabinet Office in London. The Royal Windsor Triathlon is the UK’s longest running triathlon – dating back to 1990 –  and for the first time in 2017, with its new name, the triathlon took participants fully onto Royal grounds, running from the gates of the castle into the unique Long Walk directly in front of the Windsor Castle. 

After two days of preparation, and learning much about the race history, race day had arrived! With a wake-up call well before the sun, we made our way to the course, received our tasks for the day, and finally got to see all of the hard work in action. At first my eyes were tired from an early wake-up and the cold and rainy weather, but I was quickly energized and amazed by seeing the whole triathlon come to life. And knowing we had a major part in what was about to take place was incredible.

The royal adventure continued post-race as some of my teammates saw the Queen with Prince Harry & Meghan Markle and Prince William & Kate Middleton, in horse-drawn carriages at the Royal Ascot annual procession. The Royal Ascot, which has been a tradition in the UK since 1711, is a hugely notable and famed five-day horse race. The event attracts the world’s best racehorses as they compete for millions of pounds (dollars) in prize money. Here is the video from my teammates spotting the Queen of England!

Traveling to London may have not originally been on must-do list, but as we boarded the bus to London Heathrow Airport for the last time, I thought back to the day I decided to apply to Living Sport’s unique sport study abroad program on a whim never thinking I would be considered. When I had gotten the opportunity (and was so shocked and elated), I realized there was no way I could pass this up. When else would I get the opportunity to go to London for an International Sports Business Program?

It was a once-in-a-lifetime peek into the world of the sports industry. I met students from colleges all over the United States and together we impacted the lives of athletes all the way across the pond. I got a peek into the “behind the scenes” action that brought a renowned triathlon to fruition. This event drew people from all around the world simply for their love of sports. I knew our efforts did not go unnoticed because everyone – from athletes to spectators - was so curious and interested to figure out who all us Americans were. Living Sport allowed me this unique opportunity to expand my sport industry experience and knowledge – and I learned lessons that cannot be recreated or taught. So who knows, maybe you will be browsing for summer sports opportunities and end up in another continent in a new country where you start speaking with a little bit of an accent. Cheers!


A Step Closer to Finding My Million-Dollar Answer

By: Tina Schirmeister, Living Sport London 2018 Participant & student at California State University Fresno

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What do you want to do for the rest of your life? That is the million-dollar question many search daily to answer. All I knew about my answer was something involving sports. Over time I have been given the same pieces of advice to help me succeed in this competitive environment: gain experience in your field, network with current professionals, and find multiple opportunities that will set yourself apart from everyone else. I along with 25 other undergraduates or recent graduates from around the country found our opportunity through Living Sport.

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When I first discovered this opportunity, I thought I had a very small chance of actually being accepted into the program. I applied through Sports Business Solutions thinking I was a long shot, however; within two weeks I had completed an interview and was accepted into the London 2018 program. At the time, I was unaware of how much this trip was going to reshape my life individually and professionally.

Before starting my adventure in London, I made the goal to make some sort of impact on the lives of the strangers I would be traveling with, whether it be professionally or just for a laugh. With less than 10 days to accomplish this, I would need to let go of my tendency to slightly shy away and fully express myself wholeheartedly immediately. I wanted to use this opportunity to improve my interpersonal skills and networking abilities in a low-pressure setting.

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My mentor for the trip, Shane Baglini, the Chair of the Living Sport Advisory Board, presented me the opportunity to shoot footage from the GoPro for our trip video montage during our first full day touring London. Initially, I was extremely nervous with zero GoPro experience and very little recording experience. I started by recording everyone in their natural habitat observing and walking around the city. However, I soon realized I wanted to see everyone's personalities interact with the GoPro. Someone had to start, so with the GoPro in hand, I allowed my personality to shine through, hoping to lead others to do the same. The GoPro also gave me a reason to approach everyone and ask questions, no matter how basic or random. With the GoPro, I felt more comfortable interacting with everyone, creating impromptu interviews to describe our adventure. I felt like I could be my crazy, fun-loving, dancing self and I wanted to keep that going through the rest of the trip. On the first day, my fellow travelers helped me shed a layer of self-consciousness I did not know I was holding onto, and I do not ever want that layer back.

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While recording broke through a personal barrier, our work experience at the Triathlon brought growth to my career. When meeting new people at the event and telling them how I traveled to London for this incredible experience I felt so much joy and pride for myself and my fellow participants. It felt surreal that I was not only visiting a new country and getting to know the locals but also getting international work experience!

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The final day of our trip consisted of workshops led by our mentors (industry professionals). These workshops helped us explore our career options in sports, but most importantly helped evolve our passions and personalities. Living Sport did not put anyone in a bubble, and if you had a unique strength or talent - it was used to our advantage. Alicia Marinelli and her team of mentors provided so much information and expertise to everyone specifically for their career goals. It was an honor to not only meet everyone, but learn from them throughout the trip.

Upon returning home from our trip to London, I am no longer afraid to start conversations because Living Sport helped me evolve into a stronger, more confident young professional with great tools to achieve my goals. With a deeper love and understanding for the sports industry, I can clearly describe my current career goal of sport operations with others. While I am still searching for my precise answer to that million-dollar question during my final semesters of college, thanks to Living Sport and my international experience in London, I am so much closer.

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