It Begins and Ends With Hockey

A huge hockey fan who grew up on the border of Canada and occasionally played pond hockey for fun as a kid, I LOVE an outdoor hockey game and I look forward to the Winter Classic every year. This year did not disappoint. Nats Park was transformed into a great outdoor rink facility, the weather was perfect, my seats were amazing and the final outcome ideal (CAPS beat the Blackhawks 3-2). Hockey utopia! I’m hoping the rest of the season will lead the CAPS to the playoffs. Go C-A-P-S!

My Winter Classic Attendance Timeline:

  • 2008: The first Winter Classic game at Ralph Wilson Stadium between the Sabres and Penguins in my hometown of Buffalo. Unfortunately, the Penguins won in a shootout 2-1.
  • 2011: The fourth WC game at Heinz Field between the Penguins and CAPS in Pittsburgh. The CAPS won 3-1. In a strange way the CAPS beating the Penguins felt like vindication for 2008.
  • 2015: The eighth WC game at Nats Park between the CAPS and Blackhawks in Washington, DC. The CAPS won 3-2.

Ladies Night

My CAPS fanatic friend Christy and I went to Hockey ‘n Heels, a guaranteed fun annual event hosted by the CAPS for female fans at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. The format each year is basically the same, but the players who attend and the information shared during the sessions changes.

Highlights from this year’s event included:

  • On-ice demonstration with Goalie Justin Peters (35) and an opportunity to catch and shoot pucks with CAPS alumni
  • Meeting and posing with Tom Wilson (43) and trying on an official Winter Classic jersey
  • Strength and conditioning demo and Q&A in the players’ fitness center with Mark Nemish, strength & conditioning coach for the team; Robert Wood, head chef of Eco Caters, who provides healthy meals to the CAPS; and basic exercise drills with Michael Latta (46)
  • Equipment session in the CAPS locker room with Brock Myles, head equipment manager — he shared super cool background information about what it takes to dress each player, ordering of equipment/brands specific to each player, tailoring uniforms and more!
  • Q&A with Barry Trotz, head coach, who discussed his style of coaching and hopes for the team

Day in the Life of an Olympic Flash Quote Reporter

Sport: Women’s and Men’s Hockey
Venue: Shayba Arena
Location: Olympic Park (aka Coastal Cluster)

  • Time to wake up! Jump out of bed, get ready for my shift and proudly put on my uniform. (Each day I felt like I was living a fantasy because the road to becoming a volunteer had many different obstacles.)
  • Exit the barbed wire walled housing complex through the turnstile at the guard shack.
  • Take a brief walk to the bus stop and catch the T3 to the Media Press Center (MPC).
  • Walk across the street to the main security checkpoint, badge-in with my accreditation through the turnstile, get frisked by a female guard, place my bag on the scanning belt, and take a beautiful 30-minute scenic walk to my Workforce tent inside Olympic Park. (There was a quicker route, but it was worth it going the long way.)
  • Check-in at the Workforce tent.
  • Head to the hockey Training Center, badge in with my accreditation through the turnstile, go to our office, check the assignment schedule for the day on the big wipe board, grab an Olympic News Service (ONS) bib and put it on. (Our bibs signified who we were working for to athletes and other media.)
  • Go to Shayba Arena next door, badge in with my accreditation through the turnstile, walk upstairs to the media area, grab print materials like player/team statistics, start lists for the day, etc. from the pigeonhole and return to the office in the Training Center to meet with my co-workers.
  • Attend team practices in the Training Center at rinks HTV1 and/or HTV2. Observe and then run downstairs to the Media Zone at the end of practices to interview select players/coaches. Return to the office and enter my quotes in the Info Content Management System (ICMS) for approximately 17,000 accredited global media to use.
  • Attend games at Shayba Arena, watch from the press section in the stands, take detailed notes on the back of my roster sheets, leave about 10 minutes before the end of each game and head downstairs to the Media Zone to interview my assigned players as they come off the ice. Get help from an interpreter if the player didn’t speak English. Run back to the Training Center and enter my quotes in the ICMS — within a 15-minute deadline.
  • Go to the Workforce Dining Room with my co-workers, hang out and pick at the lunch or dinner “meal”.
  • Return to the office at the end of my shift and turn in my bib.
  • Walk over to Shayba Arena and pick up print copies of my flash quotes from the pigeonhole as a keepsake for myself.
  • Take the beautiful 30-minute scenic walk back to the main security checkpoint, walk to the MPC and catch the T3 bus back to the bus stop in the housing village (OR if it was raining or I was tired, catch the T1 bus back to the MPC and then take the T3 back to the bus stop in the housing village).
  • Walk from the bus stop to the guard shack at my housing complex, show my accreditation, go through the turnstile, stop to get my bag searched, go to my room, change into my street clothes and hang out with my roommates (if they were still at work I would write in my journal or walk around the village).

FLASH QUOTE REPORTERS: I was one of seven flash quote reports assigned to Shayba Arena and the only American, which was a HUGE honor. There were 114 flash quote reporters working at the Sochi Winter Olympics. A flash quote reporter is a member of the Olympic News Service (ONS) who develops questions for the athletes/coaches and interviews them as soon as they exit the field of play. Flash quote reporters perform a crucial role and work with a high degree of speed and accuracy, while striving to gather and publish the most newsworthy quotes for use by the accredited global media.

Sweater Weather: Sochi Bound

In 2009, I was selected by the International Olympic Committee to work at the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games at Whistler in Vancouver. The amazing people I met from all over the world, my job at the Games, and the beautiful Vancouver area that I temporarily called home each changed my life in positive ways. When the time came to apply for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, I had to go for it! I underwent an intense year-long interview process similar to Vancouver. Thankfully, my efforts were worth it – I was selected to work as a flash reporter for the Olympics covering the sport of hockey. I look forward to joining the others on the news team in Sochi. I am growing increasingly excited now that it is less than 90 days until I leave! Each host country does things differently, so I anticipate this will be a distinct experience from 2010. I hope to keep you updated on my journey through my blog.