Cornhusker State Games Provides Learning Opportunities for NWU Students

Nick Lee (right) meets with a body builder as they promote the Cornhusker State Games.
NWU senior Raven Shirley (center) celebrates Olympic Day with a torch runner and former Olympian Carol Frost (right).

Nebraska Wesleyan University students Raven Shirley and Nick Lee are passionate about sports so when two internships to help coordinate the state’s largest amateur sports festival became available, they eagerly jumped at the opportunity.

“It’s gratifying now to look back and see how all of the labor and legwork came together,” said Nick Lee, a 2011 NWU graduate from Lee’s Summit, Mo.

Lee majored in sport management while at Nebraska Wesleyan. He’s considering a career in facility management.

Lee was joined by senior political communication major Raven Shirley and together they interned this summer for the Nebraska Sports Council. The Council organizes the Cornhusker State Games.

Shirley was responsible for organizing “Olympic Day,” held each June in more than 250 U.S. cities and 160 countries. The event commemorates the birth of modern day Olympic games and promotes fitness and healthy lifestyles. Nebraska’s “Olympic Day” coincided with the final leg of the Cornhusker State Games torch run, which Lee coordinated.

This year’s Olympic Day included a visit by former track and field Olympian Carol Frost who visited a Lincoln YMCA and led nearly 200 children in a workout. Frost participated in radio interviews, talked with local dieticians, and threw out the first pitch at a Lincoln Saltdogs baseball game.

“I learned great time management skills and improved my own communication skills,” said Shirley, who is from Percival, Iowa. “But one of the coolest parts of my internship was actually seeing what I’ve learned in my communication classes come to life in the real world.”

In addition to organizing Olympic Day, Shirley visited numerous sporting events in the Lincoln area to promote the Cornhusker State Games. She was also responsible for planning an opening reception for the games.

Lee was responsible for coordinating the torch run — a 1,100-mile trek from the Wyoming border to the streets of Lincoln. Lee helped plan everything from acquiring sponsorships, picking routes across the state, coordinating runners to carry the torch and selecting a mystery torch runner to bring the torch into Seacrest Field on opening night of the games. He worked continuously with the Nebraska State Patrol, Department of Roads, sheriff’s departments and others to make sure the 26-day torch run was flawless.

“It was a constant challenge just to keep all of the plans updated because they would change by the hour,” said Lee. “It was a good lesson in working with so many other people. It was great to see it all come together.”

Shirley admits some might wonder if an internship with a sports organization falls in line with her political communication major.

“But that’s one of the reasons I came to NWU because the programs of study were so well rounded,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed the marketing and event planning and I think that it may be a career path I want to pursue. Without this internship I may not have realized that.”