Tuesday, February 16, 2010

great decision

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.

(we saw n'sync at the metals ceremony. killer.)

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.


Carey said...

loved your post Heidi.
i did a pancake breakfast at the kid's school and many of my friends are heading to Vancouver tomorrow for the Olympics (by the way...SO jealous).
I was reflecting on when Calgary hosted them and we were able to go to different events. as a girl in jr. high i did not fully grasp how amazing it was to be there (i can now fully appreciate the olympic feeling) and how lucky we were.

Brandi,Dan & Lukas said...

I went to the NSync medal ceramony too. Oh how I loved N Sync.

Sharalea said...

So cool that you were able to be so involved!! I was living in Span. Fork & taking that semester to save for study abroad in spain (which later turned into a mission...)--was working 2 jobs & was super busy, didn't enjoy as much of the hype as I should have!! Love your story & pics, thanks for sharing!!

Denise Robertson said...

Great experience. Love the photos. What I think is awesome is YOU getting to fulfill a dream that you had during the games. That's pretty amazing all in itself. Once more thing to cross off the bucket list.

j@nAe said...

They gave us a week off school?! Now I'm really feeling like a loser that I never went or volunteered or anything at the 2002 Olympics. And I was in Provo the whole time! I told Sam that if I knew other people who were going, I might have gone. But apparently everyone I knew back then were losers, too. ;) I wish I had you as a friend back then!

Harmony said...

Oh, now I'm going back through my albums looking at all my Olympics pictures! Yay! Do you see how tan I was at that 'n Sync concert? All the snow shining onto my face gave me the best tan of my life! (well, the ONLY tan of my life)...

I didn't know your group got to go to the Opening Ceremonies rehearsal! Do you remember I actually went to Opening Ceremonies? The COOLEST thing I've ever seen. And, oh, the early mornings, and oh the fun nights in SLC, and oh the FEELING of the Olympics!

I'm soooooo glad we have this in common! I love you!

Josh and Jolie said...

Guess where I was during the entire SLC Olympics?
Parked on my butt, trapped in the Provo MTC, sheltered from the outside world!! Of course, I was answering a higher calling and obviously I don't regret serving a mission, but oh MAN did it tempt me to sneak out and take in the Olympic energy that surrounded us!! ;-)
I do remember flying into SLC a couple days before the games started and having a friend drive me around the city center to show me some of the decor and venues. I remember driving past the opening/closing ceremonies venue and seeing the (unlit) torch. So that was pretty cool.

And I remember the "feel" to the city...the whole valley for that matter...you could have cut the energy in the air with a knife. It was awesome for a moment....and then I reported my butt to the MTC on Feb. 6th.

Elizabeth said...

I remember the feeling around here when the Olympics were in Salt Lake. I liked your word: electric. It was an incredible experience -- and it sounds like volunteering was incredible.

The Olympics are so inspiring.

BTW: I hope you weren't waiting for me at the library for music and movement. I actually woke up this morning thinking that we could go. But, due to said Olympics, my kiddos didn't get to sleep last night until almost 11 (we don't have cable and Scott and the kids were at my dad's while I was at mutual and ended up staying late to keep watching). So, but 11:45 they were pooped this morning and were already down for their naps before noon. That's why we didn't make it. ;)

Christa Jeanne said...

Great post, Heidi! I remember when you girls volunteered - in fact, I was thinking about you two when tubing at Solider Hollow last month. If I could do it all over again, I would've signed up in a heartbeat. For some reason I felt like I couldn't volunteer or really go to any of the Olympic stuff without a car. How silly!!! I should've tagged along with you girls. Heck, I should have at least snatched up one of those Roots berets! In hindsight, I really did miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime. Kudos to you for really soaking in such an amazing experience - and for reliving it with us all.

Miss Frazzled said...

I was married during the Olympics and Christopher was a NOC assistant for the Ukranian team, and I played in a little pep band at some of the events. We had a lot of fun at the dress rehearsal to the Opening Ceremonies, walking around Salt Lake, watching the fireworks, etc. Hope to experience the Olympics again someday.