TBT interns describe life in the bubble

 

By: Meghan Carroll & Savannah Deuer


TBT interns detail life in the bubble

As interns no one could imagine the experience we were about to have with TBT. With COVID-19, there was so much uncertainty about what the tournament would look like or if there was even going to be one. When it was announced that it was going to be a three-week fully quarantined tournament in Columbus, Ohio there were still plenty to be worked out. The interns were invited to TBT but none of us knew what it was going to be like. This is our journey.

Meghan 

As soon as I got to TBT, it started out with sorting TBT gear and health kits. Everyone got masks, gloves and hand sanitizer to ensure health and safety. At first it was hard to adjust to not being able to leave the hotel, but we all got into a routine and prepared for the teams’ arrival.

Check-in week was filled with 15-16 hour work days which was hard at times but everyone was excited to start. My job during check-in was giving out player/coaches gear to everyone. It was a lot of running back and forth to rooms, but we got to interact with teams and get them excited that basketball was finally back.

Once in the hotel everyone had to take a COVID test and go into isolation until they received a negative result. We made sure everyone was getting meals at their hotel room doors and no one was breaking isolation.

Before the games started there was a lot to be set up, whether it be in the arena or in the hotel. With health and safety being first priority there were signs to be put up, room setups at the arena for teams and staff, and test runs for the arena screens. 

Once games started I was helping with the DakTronics which showed our sponsors on courtside screens and also served as the DJ. I didn’t ever think I would be a DJ, but I soon realized how fun it was and got recommendations every day from teams and staff. On game days teams had to pack their luggage - the losing teams had to stay at a neighboring hotel per health precautions. I helped put all the teams’ luggage into rooms and when the winning teams got back we helped give their luggage back. Those were the moments we saw players in great moods and very grateful to be at TBT.

Throughout the three weeks I not only became friends with the staff, but I got to make connections with teams. Being a woman in sports, it’s easy to be overlooked, but TBT was the opposite, both staff and teams showed me nothing but respect. To be the first ones to test out the bubble experience was crazy at times but so successful and I am grateful to have been a part of it.  

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Savannah

Arriving at the tournament was different, to say the least. I was in my room overnight, and in the morning was instantly put to work with the other interns creating sanitation kits and player packs filled with hand sanitizer, masks, and apparel for players and coaches. This was a great starting point for me - I love organization. Think of me as the Monica Geller of the group of interns. 

Before the tournament began, my days were filled with 16 hours of packing things, putting up signs, and preparing for the teams to arrive. And at the time, I thought those days were long, what a rookie I was. Once players began to arrive, I was placed outside handing out sanitation kits and credentials to everyone who entered the hotel. Being able to meet every single player from the different teams was incredible, and since meeting a few, I’ve even struck up a couple friendships. 

Before the games started, I would work the help desk, an area set up in the lobby for players to ask questions, come get their stickers for credentials once they were out of isolation, and sometimes just come by and chat. Some days, in the mornings, I would monitor the player testing. While we did not have to do nasal swabs, we did have to spit into a tube, and then our sample would be shipped off to a lab. I would stand outside testing rooms and tell players where to go, and how to complete their test if they had questions. 

Once the games began, I mostly ran the DakTronics inside the arena, which were the graphics fans would see shown on TV that were featured on the side of the court. Think Zelle, PUMA, and American Eagle logos. On the select few days that I wasn’t at the arena for games, I had to stay back at the hotel and help out whenever I could. I often handled the bags for teams playing that day, who had to drop everything off to me before going to the arena. 

While being quarantined in a hotel for three weeks certainly had its challenges, I would do it again in a heartbeat. Working the tournament for TBT was the best experience of my life, and I am forever grateful to the organization for allowing me to be a part of it. TBT will lead me to so many things down the road for my career. Words really can’t express this experience, but I will try: it was super cool. 

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Will

I am a recent graduate from Syracuse University. I had worked with TBT in 2019 and was able to return as an intern this year having some idea what the experience was like. I remember it taking a month or two to find out about being an intern because of the COVID situation and uncertainty.

As an event intern for a quarantined tournament, I was responsible for researching signage and catering for the hotel prior to arrival. I drove six hours from New York to Columbus for TBT where I had never been to before. 

The first day I was put to work organizing player health kits with the other interns and player communication. One of the biggest tasks for the interns was texting every player and coach making sure they take two COVID tests before they arrive at TBT. With 28 teams to split between interns, my phone actually had moments where it stopped working because I had sent so many messages. 

When it came time for team check-in, I also had long work days but enjoyed the experience and getting to know the security guards. Being from Syracuse I actually knew one of Boeheim’s Army coaches, Shaun Belby, from a class we had together. Another intern, Niko, and I were in charge of gathering players' luggage as they entered the hotel before they went on to many other check-in stations. I was also a food runner for players in isolation, which was stressful at times having to run food from delivery apps and catered meals from the hotel.

I was the first intern to see the arena before the games started and helped hang up all the banners around the court. Once games started I helped with transportation for the refs and bringing food to the arena for staff. I was one of the main people of contact to bring something to the arena or hotel, but still got to enjoy games in the empty Nationwide Arena. Throughout the three weeks I got to make connections with staff and teams and had a fun experience. 

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Niko

I am entering my third year at Syracuse University studying Sport Management. I was very familiar with the hotel and Columbus, because I grew up about 10 minutes away in Bexley. I received a grant from Syracuse for an internship, and applied for TBT in March. I was told I had the job in late April, but never guessed I would end up working the tournament. 

Similarly to Will, there was very little for me to do before the tournament began. When I first arrived at the tournament, I was instantly put to work creating player packs of merchandise with the other interns. I continued to work on player packs all throughout the tournament, as well as putting together hygiene kits with the other interns. I also worked with staff to send out text messages to players to remind them about their testing, and players from Overseas Elite began to take a liking to me. While texting players, I discovered I was not a fan of spreadsheets. 

Being from Columbus, I was the most excited to meet Carmen’s Crew and Boeheim’s Army, since both teams represented schools that I consider myself a fan of. Then of course my new friends on Overseas Elite. 

Once players began to arrive, I was paired with Will and was in charge of players’ luggage. I also worked to help Savannah outside when players needed credentials or had questions about the check-in process. I also ran food to the isolation floors and constantly was asked for more food from the players. 

Once the games began, I mostly stayed back at the hotel, where I helped players with luggage before the games, and then would take the losing teams luggage to the Hilton across the street afterwards. I enjoyed staying at the hotel and requested to be there more than at the arena. When I was needed at the arena, I would help Will with food as well as providing transportation for the referees before and after games. 

One of my best memories from TBT was loading Herd That’s luggage onto a cart to be pushed to the Hilton, as it appeared they would be losing to The Money Team. However, Jon Elmore caught fire shooting, and the team came back to win. Meghan and I had to unload all of Herd That’s luggage and replace it with TMT’s, and then push it to the hotel. 

Outside of handling luggage, I enjoyed bonding with the other interns, playing basketball on the practice courts, and befriending the security guards. 

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