Let the intern games begin
The thrill of victory! The agony of flinging your frozen pizza discus into a building!
It’s all part of the Intern Olympics.
Yes, in a time-honored tradition of competition, endurance and water balloons, as well as one of making our interns do stuff, we offer a gracious nod to the summer games beginning Friday in London.
Where those games have water polo, we have a water balloon toss. Where they have sailing, we have interns pushing themselves in office chairs across the parking lot. Where they have archery, we have plucky young things with targets on their chests, facing someone with a water gun.
Daily Sentinel interns Madeline Gore and Katie Langford, as well as alumnus Kate Schwenke — a Daily Sentinel intern in summers 2010 and 2011 — competed with valor and honor. They poured a mean bowl of cereal in the modern triathlon (it started out as a pentathlon, but someone forgot to print out a few things for two of the events; don’t ask). They moved veteran reporters to tears with their rhythmic gymnastics.
Someone even made an actual basket in a regulation hoop with a rolled-up newspaper.
They truly represented the fine, strong heart of the great nation of Internia, and honored the spirit of the Intern Olympics.
‘As the music drew to a close, my only wish was that my routine was good enough for the gold.’
By KATE SCHWENKE
It all started on a hot summer afternoon. I found my way into the newsroom and scoped out Rachel Sauer, the mastermind behind the Intern Olympics. I knew Rachel well from my two summers as an intern, and I knew that her creativity in torturing interns knew no bounds. In the past, she has forced me to ignite fireworks in the parking lot and to try to set off-brand Twinkies on fire.
Soon enough, my competition showed up. I’ve known both Katie and Madeline for awhile, but suddenly their presence intimidated me. Both of them looked younger, fresher, less emotionally damaged. (Working as a reporter in Grand Junction does stuff to you, man.)
Anyway, I didn’t have much time to be nervous. We all donned our Chinese-made, French-inspired garb of T-shirts and shorts and lined up for the opening ceremonies. I was given the responsibility of being the torch bearer, which in this case was just a very patriotic-looking Tiki torch. (See? More fire!)
The Olympics began innocently enough, but it didn’t take long for scandal to set in. The first sign of trouble came during the “sailing” event. And by sailing, I mean pushing ourselves backward across the parking lot in rolling chairs. Soon enough our camerawoman and features reporter Melinda Mawdsley accused me of cheating and I was forced into a roll-off. I may have been caught cheating, but at least they didn’t know about the anabolic steroids I’d been using.
A few events later and it was time for my favorite sport: rhythmic gymnastics. Madeline went first, and I watched in awe as she floated effortlessly through the air, her ribbon dancing elegantly around her — pure poetry.
I would have to dig deep.
The music started and I cleared my mind. I was in the zone. I pranced and I twirled like no one was watching. (Actually, I was hoping no one was watching so that my dignity would remain intact and I could show my face around town again.) I threw my ribbon into the air. I tried cartwheels and somersaults, both of which were a lot harder than I remember. As the music drew to a close, my only wish was that my routine was good enough for the gold. Judging from the tears streaming down Melinda’s face, it was more than enough.
My assumptions were correct. I took my place upon the top of the podium. I cried tears of joy as Rachel placed the gold medal around my neck. I beamed at both people in the audience as they clapped for me. All those minutes of training and stretching and practicing had paid off.
As the sun started setting, I realized the implications of winning the gold. I realized now that I had reached one goal, it was time to set and achieve more. Maybe now I should start actually looking for a job. Maybe I should move out of my parents’ basement. Or maybe I should just be like most athletes and relive my glory days.
Yeah, that sounds about right.
‘I’ve learned that the best thing you can possibly do is let go and have a little fun.’
By MADELINE GORE
For pride, for glory, for Internia!
I was nervous. There was no denying it. I’m one of those people who likes to be in control of the situation. I was not in control. Heart beating fast, small beads of sweat breaking on my forehead from the late afternoon sun, I was totally unsure of what was to come next.
Jumping through fire? Jousting? Some kind of trivia challenge? I was wishing that I hadn’t stayed up so late watching “The Bachelorette: Men Tell All” and gotten a decent amount of sleep. But I didn’t, and there I was fighting for my life.
Fighting for my life quickly turned into gasping for breath, not from strenuous physical effort, but from copious amounts of laughing. Our Intern Olympics was a very modern and loose interpretation of actual Olympic events.
In the 2012 Olympics, Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte won’t be attacking opponents with water guns, even though I think it would make aquatics more interesting. Lebron James and the U.S. Basketball team don’t make shots using rolled up newspapers. If they did, we’d be in trouble. Usain Bolt won’t race in an office chair across a full parking lot in London, but maybe it should be considered for Rio in 2016.
As we worked our way through each event, I realized that I’m no Katniss Everdeen and definitely not on par with Shawn Johnson. However, what I lack in archery skills and gymnastic talent, I make up for in determination and a high amount of confidence. Should the situation call for it, and indeed it did, I’m willing to drop everything and be outrageously spontaneous.
I also rediscovered my god-given talent for having the capacity to act completely ridiculous. That was the real root of the Intern Olympics — how far are you willing to push yourself beyond your comfort zone? Actually, that’s basically the central theme of the world as I know it.
Soon I will head back to Notre Dame to start my sophomore year. This summer I’ve learned that as the world throws challenges my direction, I’m fully capable to meet them head on. I can run, jump and throw aside life’s hurdles with the best of them. I may fall or falter a time or two, but that doesn’t mean I won’t make it to the finish line.
If all else fails, I’ve learned that the best thing you can possibly do is let go and have a little fun. I can’t imagine a life that is spent standing on the sidelines.
For one summer I was an intern. For the rest of my life I’ll be a real-world Olympian.
Let the games begin!
‘With my eyes on the prize (and the perfect layup), I went for the slam dunk.’
By KATIE LANGFORD
When I was first introduced to features reporter Rachel Sauer I was a fresh-faced, naive news intern, still high on the Vitamin D and frequent naps that summer affords the unemployed college student. I was looking forward to my internship as my first dip into the working journalism world, and I’d yet to be tainted by buzzing fluorescent lights, irritated public information officers and Gary Harmon’s maniacal laughter.
I knew that news was a serious business, but I had not yet had my spirit (or bones) broken by the intense physical and emotional pressure that is features reporting.
Though Rachel had initially mentioned the “fun” she liked to have with Sentinel interns, after my first few weeks of work, I dropped my guard. My days consisted of phone calls, interviews and writing, interspersed with occasional wisecracks from the sports reporters, who cluster together on the opposite end of the newsroom, as far away as possible from the city desk.
At the time I thought nothing of my desk being in sports, but I now understand that from Day One I was singled out as a competitor. Perhaps Rachel thought mingling with sports would help my chances, or maybe the isolation was a form of testing my emotional resolve, but this question, like many others, must remain in the past with my broken Olympic dreams.
My introduction to the Daily Sentinel Intern Olympics came on a busy morning when features reporter Melinda Mawdsley beckoned me to where she and Rachel stood talking in hushed tones. I was informed that I would be competing in the Intern Olympics the following day, that I needed to wear athletic clothes, and that the events would be secret until 3 p.m. Wednesday.
That day, myself, fellow intern Madeline Gore and intern alum Kate Schwenke were tested with a water balloon toss and rolling office chair race.
The third, and my final event, was the newspaper agility challenge, where each Olympian attempted to make a basket with only a copy of the Sentinel and our raw talent. We were all unsuccessful (I cannot confirm or deny that Kate made a basket after the competition ended), and moved on to layups.
With my eyes on the prize (and the perfect layup), I went for the slam dunk. My newspaper was just shy, my foot hit the pavement with a crunch, and by some feat of gravity, I was out of the competition with a broken foot.
Melinda and Rachel consoled me with a bronze medal, and though my contestants huddled around me in concern, I knew the games must go on.
Madeline and Kate continued to duke it out for the gold medal as I watched from the sidelines, a frozen pizza numbing the pain in my foot — but not my heart. Though the gold medal was snatched from my fingertips and my foot is still the size of several baseballs, I will continue to persevere, train and recover, hoping for another year and another chance to bring honor to the Internia Olympic Games.