i've made a few really good decisions in my life: marrying jayson, serving a mission, going to byu and volunteering for the 2002 olympic games.
in truth, most of those things weren't decisions at all. i knew way too quickly that i wanted to marry jayson. i knew when i was 12 and my sister was on a mission that i would serve too. i always knew i'd go to byu--there wasn't another option in my family.
i remember so clearly sitting down at my computer in my dorm room the day they opened registration for volunteers. i was 18, and i can't remember ever wanting to do anything like i wanted to volunteer. i watched the olympics as a kid with the same wide eyed fascination as most. i loved the olympics. i loved that the common man could compete and become a champion. the stories are so inspiring. the athletes are so amazing. and i had to be a part of it.
i waited what seemed like forever before they sent out their invitations. i was selected to be a full-time volunteer. you probably have heard that they had 20,000+ volunteers so you might assume that everyone who volunteered was accepted. not so--my mother wanted badly to be a full-time volunteer and ended up being invited only to be part-time. it was a big deal to me that even though i would be young--20 years old, that they would let me assist full-time.
byu was fantastic and asked all faculty and staff to work with their students and employees who were volunteers. my job was amazing and let me miss multiple shifts. my teachers were so gracious with me as i missed several classes (and slept in those that i could attend). byu also cancelled school for an entire week so that we could enjoy the games.
being a volunteer was a huge time commitment. we had several training sessions before the olympics--general and job specific. we started our shifts weeks before any athletes or officials came to town. we woke up at 3 a.m. most days to be in our post by 4:30 a.m. we had to go to salt lake multiple times to pick up our uniforms and credentials.
however, they rewarded us well. we all received one ticket to a metals ceremony where a famous artist/band would play. we were invited to see the dress rehearsal of the opening ceremonies. we got a uniform valued at $1000. we got a watch and a participation metal.
but those things really pale in comparison to the experiences we had. i was based out of soldier hollow, and i got to see many cross-country races and biathlon events.
one morning the today show did a piece on soldier hollow, and guess who was there? our friend al roker.
green jello was the big joke during the olympics, so i made a poster that looked like a green jello box to be on the today show.
almost all of my friend took advantage of the week off of byu and went home. i can't blame them. but i do think they missed out on an experience of a lifetime. and i'm not just talking about volunteering--everything about utah those weeks were electric. my friend harmony stayed and we both worked at soldier hollow together.
i lived really close to the peaks ice arena and we picked up cheep tickets one evening after a hockey game started. sweden and someone. after we went to salt lake and went to a whole bunch of free entertainment events.
my mom helped put together the packets for the opening and closing ceremonies. she received a ticket to the closing ceremonies but didn't want to go alone. i told her i'd gladly go alone, so she gave me her ticket. the best show i've ever seen live.
i've been thinking about my experiences a lot this week as i watch the vancouver games. i think i was so lucky that everything fell into place for me. i think i was pretty young to grasp the kind of experiences i would have.
now, i believe they were once-in-a-lifetime. i most likely won't live in a host city again. i know how much hotel rooms cost in salt lake during the olympics and realistically i will never afford to visit a city during the olympics. watching the games on t.v. is great, but it pales in comparison to being there and experiencing it. i was so lucky. it really was one of the best decisions i've ever made.
i love the olympics.