News Release

Ball State to send team to Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games

Students from Ball State University’s BSU at the Games are preparing to pack up their newsroom and head to Russia to report from the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games. BSU at the Games functions as a freelance news source to national media outlets, including WTHR (a local NBC affiliate), CNN and The Chicago Tribune.

As a part of Ball State’s immersive learning initiative, students will gain real-life experience in journalism, telecommunications, photojournalism, public relations and graphic design by providing Olympic coverage as the news breaks in Sochi. BSU at the Games is sending 24 reporters, more than most newsrooms, which allows the team to produce photos, videos and stories about the event results, as well as focus on each athlete’s road to success.

Zach Huffman, a junior telecommunications news track and business administration double major from Indianapolis, will be a broadcast reporter at the games.

“Ball State University has presented me with opportunities that most professionals in the broadcast and journalism field don’t experience,” Huffman said. “To say that I am excited for this experience would be an understatement. This is an opportunity of a lifetime and I am thrilled to be able to experience it with the best group of individuals that you could imagine.”

The group has used the fall academic semester to prepare for the trip before traveling to Sochi, Russia, from Feb. 5-Feb. 15, 2014. During their two-week visit, students will stay on cruise ships in Adler, near the official Olympic competition grounds.

A team of 17 will remain in the states while the other 22 students are abroad. Graphic designers for BSU at the Games will be centrally located in the offices of The Chicago Tribune to produce news graphics. Remaining on campus will be a team of copywriters, as well as a group of students to host a series of events to engage campus in the Olympic hype.

Members of BSU at the Games recently attended the United States Olympic Committee’s 2013 Team USA National Media Summit in Park City, Utah from Sept. 29-Oct. 2.

Journalism major Holly Demaree, a junior from Madison, Ind., will be a reporter at the games.

“I was sitting at the media summit feeling like a kid when a New York Times journalist asked me what publication I was with,” Demaree said. “I thought why is he talking to me I’m a college student not a professional journalist, but then I realized I am. I am reporter for the BSU at the Games to cover the 2014 Winter Olympics and I am going to Russia to do it.”

BSU at the Games made its debut at the London 2012 Olympic Games with 40 students and more than 250 student-produced multimedia pieces in major news outlets, such as the Huffington Post and USA Today.

“The London 2012 Olympic Games taught us a lot, created a solid following on social media and opened a lot of doors that are still available for us in Sochi,” Ryan Sparrow, the project director for BSU at the Games, said. “It’s great to know that the quality of work we presented in London was so memorable that people we worked with last time, like WTHR, are looking to use our content for Sochi, as well. London was an experiment and Sochi is the beginning of a lasting program.”

Additional program advisers include Colleen Steffen, professor of journalism; Adam Kuban, professor of journalism; and Suzy Smith, professor of telecommunications. Sparrow, Smith and Kuban will travel with the students to Sochi in February and Steffen will manage the copy editing team from the states. Gary Graham, a BSU alumnus and editor for The Spokesman-Review, will also be traveling to Sochi as a mentor for the group.

Students and advisers are available for interviews and quotes. Hi-res photos of the team in action, videos and stories are also available upon request.

For more information, please contact a member of the media relations team, or Ryan Sparrow, project director, at 765-212-1300 or

You can follow our road to Sochi on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram; or, visit our website for our original stories, blogs and photos.


By: Ashley Cox / BSU at the Games, Ball State University