My Volunteer Experience

July 25, 2013 11:17 PM
By Nicole Poirier/BB&T Atlanta Open
When a family friend offered me the chance to work this year’s tournament, I jumped at the opportunity to work among some of the top players in their fields, both tennis players and major media players.  This coupled with the chance to have my writing featured on the BB&T Atlanta Open website made this opportunity one people only dream of. I walked into my first day with almost no knowledge as to what would be expected of me, but I quickly realized I would have no "grace period". With the first day of the tournament being one of the busiest of the week, volunteers are expected to know what they’re supposed to get accomplished and they’re expected to do it without issue to keep the highly anticipated tournament running smoothly.
I spent the bulk of my first couple of hours making copies of everything related to that day of the tournament. I was offered a peek behind the curtains of the tournament, finding out about the players who have to pull out of the tournament or the injuries of ones who had to retire from their matches. As the first matches were just beginning, I was approached by Ron Cioffi, Director of Communications for the tournament, about writing two pieces that would cover the first match on stadium court, Pasha vs. Frank, and the USTA Family Zone. My initial reaction was one of excitement; I was ready to prove that I could produce pieces worthy of the tournament website. These good feelings quickly faded as I realized my three years of writing for the high school yearbook probably didn’t qualify as experience. I got rid of my trepidation and set out to watch the match-up between the UGA player and the former NCAA No.1 player.
As I sat under the sweltering sun, I barely noticed the heat as I took out my tournament provided notebook and jotted down as many notes as I possibly could. After the match wrapped up and I grabbed a few cool minutes inside, I set out for the USTA Family Zone. I spent the next portion of my day speaking to everyone in the zone, coordinators, teaching pros, children playing tennis, and even their parents, gathering quotes and any information I could use in my second piece. I sat down at the media counter, and cranked out two 500-word pieces, and after proofreading them both, I was pretty satisfied with the results. I turned both of my pieces in, and Ron told me that after he’d read them, he would make any changes that were needed and give me some feedback. I spent the rest of the day, and that night, worried and wondering if he’d already read them.
When I arrived this morning, I went to get my tasks for the day and was finally granted some piece of mind when Ron told me that after some minor changes, he’d posted my articles to the tournament news page. Seeing my work published on the website was one of my proudest moments. I wasted no time to call my parents so they could look my pieces up. Only two days in, and this tournament has already been a priceless experience that has taught me more than I could’ve imagined. I and the other volunteers work 12-hour plus days, some without breaks, but the rewards the tournament brings us far outweighs the long nights and Atlanta heat.