Professor Vicki Michaelis talks with Miranda Daniel, left, Nikki Weldon and Zoe Smith as they plan out coverage at the US Air Force Academy of the Department of Defense Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Thursday, May 31, 2018. (Photo/Mark E. Johnson)

Grady College students to cover Warrior Games

Six students and two professors from Grady College will cover the Department of Defense Warrior Games as credentialed journalists in Colorado Springs, Colorado, June 1-7, 2018.

The Warrior Games is an adaptive athletic competition featuring injured and ill athletes from the military.

Three students from Grady Sports Media will write about the Warrior Games and will be advised by Vicki Michaelis, the John Huland Carmical Chair in Sports Journalism & Society and director of Grady Sports Media. Three photojournalism students will document the stories visually and will be advised by Mark Johnson, senior lecturer in journalism. Michaelis and Johnson will be on site to supervise and edit the students.

“It’s a great opportunity for the students to cover live sports action,” said Michaelis, who covered the Warrior Games in 2011 as a reporter for USA Today. “It’s also great opportunity for them to have to familiarize themselves with an event and with sports competitions that they don’t necessarily know.”

The student journalists will team up to produce packages with written features and photographs. The students are researching the athletes and sports now to identify potential stories. They are also researching enterprise ideas about adaptive sports and technology. The stories will be pitched to local and national media outlets.

Michaelis said the Warrior Games will allow the Grady’s sports and visual journalism programs to build on their experience from the 2016 Paralympics Games , which nine Grady students covered for The Associated Press.

“Every one of these athletes has an inspiring story,” Michaelis added. “The hard part isn’t finding good stories, it’s finding the best story. The only issue will be how much time we have to tell them.”

Fourth-year journalism student Michael Hebert is one of the Grady Sports Media students covering the Warrior Games and he looks forward to covering first-time athletes in the competition, as well as those who have not had a chance to tell their story yet.

“What I want to do is cover the athletes who are using the Warrior Games as a chance to heal, not necessarily physically, but more so mentally,” Hebert said.

The students selected to travel to the Warrior Games were chosen by a committee after auditioning with deadline coverage of athletes participating in a UGA-hosted track meet.

The experiential learning trip is being funded by support from the Carmical Foundation, donations to the Grady Sports Media program and funds from the Carter Endowment for Journalism Excellence.

Miranda Daniel, a fourth-year student who will be photographing the Warrior Games, anticipates a fast-paced environment, but looks forward to telling the stories of the athletes visually.

“I have no doubts this will be an amazing experience,” Daniel said.

In addition to Daniel and Hebert, students traveling to the Warrior Games are Brittney Butler and Nikki Weldon from Grady Sports Media and photojournalists Christina Matacotta and Zoe Smith.

“We are hopeful we can make this a perennial opportunity,” Michaelis concluded. “We think the adaptive sports space is just such a great place for us to do what we want to do, and not enough media are in this space. The students can get a really full experience being there.”

The Warrior Games is a nine-day competition featuring nearly 300 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans in eleven different sports, including sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball and track. Each branch of the United States military will be represented—the Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy and Special Operations Command—alongside military athletes from the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. The event takes place at the Air Force Academy.

Date: May 29, 2018
Author:  Sarah Freeman,  freemans@uga.edu