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Posted on August 19th, 2016 in 2016 Rio Olympics, Student Work by fgogola | Tags: ,

The reprieve came on Wednesday afternoon. I was still scheduled to be on volleyball duty the next day (Team USA’s women were playing Italy in the semifinals). But instead of a 10:15 p.m. start time, they were put into the 1 p.m. slot, meaning that I would actually be able to sleep Thursday night.

So on Thursday morning, I caught one bus from our neighborhood to the Media Transport Mall adjacent to Olympic Park, and then fast-walked my way to a second bus to Maracanãzinho, where Olympic volleyball games are played next to the infamous Maracanã stadium.

{Note: Here I come back to writing after a five-minute break because Helen Maroulis just walked into the United States Olympic Committee office to an exclamation of “We’re so proud of you, sweetheart!” Yesterday Helen won the first-ever U.S. gold medal in women’s wrestling. She posed next to her picture on the USOC wall and is currently drinking a Coke on the couch as I type. Life is weird.}

Back to volleyball. I unpack my stuff, take my seat in the press tribune, open my computer, get hooked into the Wifi again and then see my email.

“Since one of our divers advanced to the final, we would like to have Becky cover the diving final at 4 p.m. instead of volleyball.”

Diving is at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Center back in the Olympic Park, an hour-long bus ride away. I had just come from there. The email had been sent only five minutes before so even if I had seen it immediately, it would have been too late to change course. So I replied, “Sounds good!” I repacked my stuff, bid adieu to the promise of a burger from the stand right next to the press tribune and waited once again for the media bus to show up.

The diver the email referred to was Jessica Parratto, an Indiana University student. On my way back to the Main Press Center, I learned that the Indianapolis Star would also like a story, throwing me into two possible situations.

The way my responsibilities for the USOC are defined, I only write a story if an athlete medals. If Parratto ended up on the podium Thursday evening, I would be writing one story for the USOC, and another (with an IU and Indiana angle) for the Star, a tricky proposition as both had deadlines.

The other possibility was that Parratto would not medal and I would write solely for the local paper, getting paid in the process. As a college student, that’s always a pleasant proposition.

When Parratto missed her third and fourth dives, I internally sighed for her (I had watched her dive at the U.S. trials earlier in the summer and knew what she was capable of) and felt relieved that I would not be pulling double-story duty.

The event started at 4 p.m. My story was sent to the Star at 6:20 p.m. (And yet friends wonder how I can calmly start and finish papers of varying lengths mere days or hours before they’re due. Others call it procrastination, I call it career training.)

And thus, another day in the life of an USOC student assistant ended with dinner at a normal hour and chocolate in bed watching track and field.

— Rebecca Harris | @MsRebeccaHarris