I Wasn’t Even Going to Sochi

Words are hard. Forming them into sentences that make sense is even harder, especially when I am not the most eloquent storyteller. When I verbally tell a story about an event I witnessed, most of my friends will sit back to settle in for the long haul. The number one complaint I get from them is that I have no ability to summarize. I am a details person. I like backstories, visual details and emotions. It’s probably why I enjoy editing videos so much.

How does anyone survive without details? This isn’t a rhetorical question. I genuinely would love to know because I envy those who can live solely in the moment and place the outcome of their lives in the hands of fate. It’s been hardwired into my scatterbrain since birth to preplan down to each tiny detail. It’s the only way I stay sane.

Mary Effner

For the most part of the last five to six months, all the way to the day the group of 20+ students headed to Sochi, each week was filled with great uncertainty. Anxiety grew within me with each Facebook notification of “So and so posted in the BSU @ the Games: Sochi Working group.” When details are left floating in the air, I become uneasy.

Fun fact: I wasn’t even going to Sochi for the Games.  Even so, once information began to form in more comprehensible ways, it came flooding in all at once. Sometimes it felt like we were all playing a huge game of “Telephone.”

January flew by way too fast. February showed up like a slap in the face. As the Sochi team headed out a day earlier than planned, my responsibilities as a floater between the Chicago and homebound-Muncie team picked up pace.  I am the lone videographer left on U.S. soil for BSU at the Games.

With the rest of my video team in Sochi, I traveled to Chicago and filmed interviews and b-roll of the graphic design students at the Chicago Tribune.

Everyone was so caught up leaving for his or her respective cities, I had little-to-no information for where I needed to be, whom to contact or even if I’d have a place or a bed to sleep on until the night before I left. It felt like I was on no one’s radar. I was going into an environment practically blind. For me, Ms. Supreme Detail, it was painfully stressful. I woke up Sunday morning, later than I had hoped, with only “40 Grand Ave.” as the hotel’s address.

On the way, I missed a turn, and my GPS took me back to a $4.00 toll road, just to turn around at the following exit. Rookie video mistakes were made.

Eventually, during the wee hours on Tuesday morning, I made it back to Muncie. I was able to collapse on my couch (fully dressed in what I had been wearing all day) and sleep finally.  8:00 a.m. came too soon. My body ached from carrying at least 30 pounds of film equipment around downtown Chicago and being on my feet for two days straight.

“Why do you put yourself through the ringer like this,” my parents and friends ask me this on several occasions. I don’t have a solid answer. In most cases, I thrive in my own scatterbrain version of organized chaos.

In addition to BSU at the Games, I am involved with a second immersion class within the telecommunications department that requires a lot of my attention this month as well.

So why engage in both courses? I guess I’m willing to push whatever limits I have to be part of these opportunities Ball State has given me the chance to have. The next potential BSU at the Games will be a year after my planned graduation date, and the film immersion course is only offered this semester. According to a professor from last fall, CEI (Cinema Entertainment Immersion) programs won’t be in effect during the 2014-2015 academic school year.

For as much pressure as I have felt, for all the anxiety attacks and mental breakdowns, the show must go on. When it’s all over with, I can say, “I was a part of BSU at the Games. I was given the chance to get involved with reporting the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic games.” And that’s all that matters.


BSU at the Games is a freelance news agency operated by 41 student journalists reporting from the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games through an immersive-learning program at Ball State University.



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