Three Baldwin Wallace students gained valuable internship experience in their fields of study at the Cleveland Gay Games this summer August 9-16.
BW students Nicole DeAnna, a senior sustainability intern, senior George Brown and junior Melissa Vermes, both sports operation interns, all agree their times at the Gay Games provided valuable lessons.
The Gay Games is a sporting event that celebrates the LGBTQ community while encouraging participation from anyone over the age of 18. The games are open to all adults, regardless of sexual orientation and athletic ability.
Participants had a wide variety of sports to choose from, including beach volleyball, soccer, body building and ice hockey.
Events were hosted at about 35 different venues in the Cleveland and Akron area with around 9,000 people coming to the opening ceremonies.
The ceremonies opened with performances from NSYNC’s Lance Bass and Broadway’s original little orphan Annie, Andrea McArdle.
While each BW intern worked in different sections, they gained hands-on experience and improved their critical thinking, managerial skills and teamwork.
DeAnna used her critical thinking skills to adapt sustainability practices from the Sochi Olympics to suit the needs of the Cleveland Gay Games. She worked with other sustainability promoters in the area, such as Bike Cleveland. This program provided bikes for Gay Games participants, which reduced pollution from cars and reduced the carbon footprint of the event.
While working at softball tournaments in Akron, Vermes made sure that everything ran smoothly for each event, even when faced with bad weather and medal shortages. She enjoyed sharing her responsibilities with Joey Arrietta, owner of the Akron Racers.
“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and it opened people’s eyes,” Vermes said.
Brown showed off his teamwork skills while working at the Case Western Reserve location in Cleveland.
Once, while overseeing six sporting events including table tennis, wrestling and racquetball, Brown discovered that the badminton equipment had not been delivered.
Brown reassured participants that he was working to get the event underway and contacted other venues to help him solve the issue. He kept the lines of communication open and remained calm. The crisis was averted quickly and the event went on as planned.
The BW interns contributed their time and skills to the operation of the Gay Games, but the event also gave them more in return than practical experience. Their interactions with participants helped to strengthen their beliefs in equality for all.
George added, “It gave people the chance to see others for who they are instead of as a gender or sexuality.”
DeAnna said she received praise from participants on the welcoming atmosphere and organization of the Gay Games.
“Little cities in the Midwest can be just as supportive as bigger cities like New York,” DeAnna said.