Journalism skills take UI student-athletes to Beijing

July 24, 2007

IOWA CITY – – Mike Stout is a journalism and English major at the University of Iowa who also runs cross country and track. His legs won’t lead him to the 2008 Olympic Games. His pen will.

Stout is one of at least 26 UI students who will work as media volunteers at the 2008 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing, China. Included in the Iowa contingent are two student-athletes and a former member of the marching band.

“I’m big into track and field,” Stout said. “I saw a flyer in one of my journalism classes and I thought this would be a good way to watch some great track action.”

The UI students received the Olympic opportunity because of a Memorandum of Understanding recently signed by the UI and Tsinghua University, a partner school in Beijing. As media volunteers, the students will be the first to interact with coaches and athletes following competition.

“They will assign us a sport and then we’ll get quotes from the athletes and coaches,” Stout said. “We’ll put the information on the internet and out to the media within 10 minutes.”

Stout is a junior from Perry, who is also pursuing a minor in business. The other Hawkeye student-athlete is junior men’s tennis player Gregory Holm from Omaha, Neb. Holm has 30 career victories in two tennis seasons; Stout is a distance runner. Junior Emily Doolittle of Cedar Rapids, formerly a member of the marching band and sophomore Anna Frisk of Magnolia, who once was a member of the Hawkeye rowing team, are also among the Olympic-bound faction.

Stout, along with Nathan Cooper, a journalism and American studies major from Glenville, Minn., and Marcus Schulz, a journalism and international studies major from Yorkville, Ill., will travel to Beijing for 10 days in August as part of an Olympics “test event” organized around the Junior World Wrestling Championships. Doolittle and Elizabeth Tuttle of Excelsior, Minn., both journalism and international studies majors, will work at another trial event in October in conjunction with an international tennis competition.

The entire group of Iowa student volunteers is due in Beijing in late June 2008 to begin orientation and training. Most will stay through the regular Summer Games, Aug. 8-24, and up to a third may continue at the Paralympics, Sept. 6-17.

Doolittle graduated from Cedar Rapids Washington High School, where she played volleyball, softball and was a four-year member of the marching band. As a freshman at the UI, Doolittle was in the marching band, playing a mellophone, which is essentially a mobile French horn. Because she is also a resident assistant in Burge Residence Hall, Doolittle will be forced to begrudgingly punt on another year with the marching band. While the athletic portion of the Olympics appeals most to Stout, Doolittle is intrigued by the cultural significance of the games.

“I’m honored and very excited to be able to be a part of the international cultural aspects of the Olympics,” Doolittle said. “Growing up I used to sit on the couch with my parents and watch the Olympics. Now I’m being given an opportunity to pursue a little portion of my dream of participating there.”

In preparation, Doolittle has taken the class conversational Chinese I and she enrolled in conversational Chinese II this fall. Doolittle said she will have 11 hours of Chinese completed before the Olympics begin.

“It’s a very, very difficult language,” Doolittle said.

Over the years athletes with connections to the UI athletic department have demonstrated gold-medal performances at the Olympic Games. In 2008 a group of Hawkeyes will also provide a little behind-the-scenes assist.

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