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Checking in from the Paralympics

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**NOTE: Jarryd Wallace races in the 4x100m in London TODAY! Watch online at Paralympics.org between 5:07-5:14 PM!

By Connor Nolte

I guess this blog is long overdue. A lot has happened since I last reported on my experience with the United States Olympic Committee (read here).

My internship at the USOC has officially ended. I had a great summer in Colorado Springs working in the marketing department on Team USA's digital media efforts. While that internship is finished, I offered my services to the communications department for US Paralympics. They took me up on the offer and I am currently in London, England, with Team USA. It has been an incredible experience and I am so honored to be a part of the 2012 Paralympics.

My role here consists of covering events, posting stories to USParalympics.org, and posting Instagram images to the @USParalympics account. I've been covering just about everything. My favorite assignment to receive is the wheelchair basketball teams. My eyes have been opened to what an amazing sport it really is.

There hasn't been much time for sightseeing in London but I have been able to see most of the Olympic/Paralympic venues here and was even able to attend the Opening Ceremony. My credential gets me into every event and I've been trying to make my way to as many venues as possible.

I can't really describe what the atmosphere is like over here. I've never seen anything like it. Everywhere you look there are people and most are decked out in clothes that show support for their home countries. The scale of this event is incredible. I work out of the Main Press Centre most of the time, and it is a gigantic building with hundreds of computers and thousands of journalists file in and out each day.

I am planning on being at the Olympic Stadium to see fellow Bulldog, Jarryd Wallace, compete on the world's biggest stage. What an amazing opportunity! I haven't met up with him since he has been in London but am hoping to see him at some point while I'm here.

I also have some good news regarding my master's program. I completed my internship and passed the exit exam so I will be officially graduating with my Master's degree in Sport Management in December. I am extremely proud to have earned not one, but two degrees from the University of Georgia!

After the Paralympics I will be traveling in Europe for two weeks before heading back to the States. I'll be stopping in Paris, Rome, Greece, and Barcelona during my travels. I hope to post one more update after watching Jarryd race and the Games end.

Go Dawgs!

-Connor

#Football #Hashtags

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Happy Gameday Eve, Bulldog Nation! Hopefully you're all excited about tomorrow's season opener vs. Buffalo as Georgia is finally about to tee it up Between the Hedges in 2012!

Along those lines we've introduced something new this season that will ideally make your gameday social media experience better when it comes to following the Dawgs! We invite you to join us in using game-specific hashtags on Twitter when tweeting about the Bulldogs. The hashtags will give you a way to continue showing your support on social media, while the new tags will let you see what everyone else is saying about that week's game and join in the conversation! The list of hashtags is here:

Buffalo: #UGAvBUFF
Missouri: #UGAvMIZZ
FAU: #UGAvFAU
Vanderbilt: #UGAvVANDY
Tennessee: #UGAvTENN
S. Carolina: #UGAvSC
Kentucky: #UGAvUK
Florida: #UGAvUF
Ole Miss: #UGAvOM
Auburn: #UGAvAUB
Georgia Southern: #UGAvGSU
Georgia Tech: #UGAvGT

Thanks so much in advance for your support and please let us know by tweeting @UGAHedgesBlog how it goes for you! Try it out today as you start getting excited for tomorrow's game! We'll have updates all day tomorrow on our official UGA account (@UGAAthletics).

As always, GO DAWGS!

Getting better in 2012-13

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Good morning, Bulldog Nation. Looking around campus and the athletic complexes this week, and even just driving through town and seeing how many more people are around, it's obvious that the academic year is upon us. Football practice is in full swing, the soccer team is scrimmaging this Friday night, all the facilities have about finished their off-season upgrades, and... the UGA Athletic Association has completed some workshops in hopes of improving itself for the coming year. 

Last week several staff members spent a night at Lake Lanier, listening to speakers Carl Swearingen, Genie Chamberlin, and Carole Middlebrooks address the topics of team-building, customer service, and even a little bit of thinking outside the box. One thing Carl said that stuck with me, in particular, was that just because something has always been done a certain way, doesn't mean it's the right way. It was interesting to hear him, as a long-time Georgia season ticket holder, mention examples of things he's observed that he feels could be improved. One of his points was that sometimes companies, businesses, organizations, and the like get stuck in the same rut, and it was good to hear an outside perspective ask us why we do certain things or why we do them that way. The takeaway was that if you don't have a good answer, it may be time to change, adapt, and make a new plan of attack, and that's an attitude that will make UGA Athletics better.

The day also included team-building exercises such as building boats out of nothing but cardboard and duct tape and racing them across the hotel's pool. And, some karaoke - which included a guest rendition of "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" by our own Greg McGarity. We've got the pictures to prove it! (We'll save those for another day...)

Yesterday, the UGAAA met for lunch and a talk by Dr. Earl Suttle, who had some "Earl's Pearls" of wisdom on leadership and staying positive for a better work environment and overall growth and success of the team. Both retreats were good for us to evaluate ways to get better, and to make sure Georgia fans get a good experience when they come to our games, that student-athletes have a good experience playing here, that other UGA students are proud to say they attend this university, and that everyone is proud to be a part of the Bulldog Nation.

We're all looking forward to a very exciting 2012-13, and can't wait for you to be a part of it with us!

Go Dawgs!

Inside Georgia Football Media Day

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As I'm sure you've seen and heard, today marked the official start to the 2012 Georgia Football season, the first day of training camp as well as Media Day - with head coach Mark Richt and a delegation of players meeting with print, radio, TV, and online outlets to talk about the season. Here's a quick look at what went on:

At 11:15 a.m., media (and the players) ate lunch in the multi-purpose room of the new indoor football practice facility.

At noon, Coach Richt met with the print and radio media, and during that time the players visited with TV. The players then took their turn with the print and radio reporters on the second floor of the Butts-Mehre building, while Coach Richt stopped with TV.

There were probably about 50 media members on hand in all. It's definitely a crazy day, with all hands on deck from the Sports Communications office as well as our new media team from IMG Sports Properties. We each have responsibilities to make sure the day goes smoothly, from transcribing and distributing quotes, to escorting players to their next location, posting photos to Facebook, or whatever it may be. But it's also a very exciting day, signaling that summer is over, the fall is here, and football season (as well as the other fall sports) is just around the corner. Just 30 days from today the Bulldogs kick off the 2012 season against Buffalo on Sept. 1. It will be here before we know it!

That's it for now - we are headed down to the field for Georgia's first practice. The Bulldogs will go today in shorts and helmets, no pads.

More to come on our official Twitter - @UGAHedgesBlog.

Weekend Update: Olympic Bulldogs

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Good Monday morning, Bulldog Nation!

In case you were living under a rock this weekend, here's your one-stop update on what all your current/former Georgia athletes did in London!

*Allison Schmitt, a rising senior swimmer, already secured herself 2 medals - taking silver and set the American record in the 400 freestyle on Sunday in 4:01.77, one day after anchoring the US 4x100m freestyle relay that took bronze in another American record-setting performance. Schmitt just qualified this morning for the semifinals of this afternoon's 200m freestyle, and will be seeded second. The 200m free finals are on Tuesday.

*John Isner won his opening round singles match and will take on Tunisia's Malek Jaziri today (Monday) at 11 am ET. Isner lost his first round doubles match with Andy Roddick on Saturday, and could still be named to a mixed doubles team for the US, with that draw set to be announced Tuesday.

*Gymnastics signee Brittany Rogers helped Canada earn a berth in the team final for the first time at a non-boycotted Olympics Sunday. Canada has now reached the final just twice in history, the last in 1984. She and her teammates will compete Tuesday. Rogers placed seventh on vault with a score of 14.666 to qualify for the individual event final to take place Aug. 5. She also took 16th on bars with a 14.500.

*Former Georgia volleyball player Lizzie Reid and Great Britain will take on Algeria tonight at 5 pm, looking to avenge their opening round loss to Russia. Reid played the final two points of the second set vs. Russia on Saturday.

...and that's what you missed! Pretty amazing first weekend for the Dawgs in London... already 2 medals and plenty of opportunities for more!

Just a reminder, we'll be tweeting live results from the individual Georgia sports Twitter accounts, as well as from our official account (@UGAAthletics) and from our blog's page (@UGAHedgesBlog), so if you're trying to avoid results, STAY OFF TWITTER! :)

And if you're talking about the Bulldogs in the Olympics, please use our official hashtag #UGAOlym!

Have a great day and Go Dawgs!

Georgia Coverage of #UGAOlym

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Happy Friday afternoon, Bulldog Nation! Just wanted to check in and see who's excited for tonight's Olympics Opening Ceremonies? We definitely are! As you probably know by now, Georgia has 26 current or former athletes set to compete, as well as a coach and an administrator, AND, even one of my co-workers from UGA Sports Communications, Mike Mobley, on hand.The composite list of Bulldogs can be found here!

We will be doing our very best to bring you as much coverage of Georgia's action from the Olympics as possible. Your best bet is to follow us in as many ways as you can: check Georgiadogs.com, where we'll be posting stories throughout the Games, follow us on Twitter (@UGAAthletics and @UGAHedgesBlog, or on the sport-specific pages if you're looking for something in particular. Those can be found here). Also, "like" us on Facebook at Facebook.com/GeorgiaBulldogs. And of course we'll have as many nuggets as possible right here on Between The Hedges. 

A word of warning, our sports information folks will be working hard to bring you all the updates they can in real time, and since London is five hours ahead of us here on the East Coast, that means if you set your DVR to watch on the couch at night during prime time, you might not want to follow along as closely to us while the Games are going on. We definitely don't want to ruin anything for anyone! ::spoiler alert::

And finally, if you're chatting about the Games and your favorite Olympic Bulldogs on Twitter, please consider using the hashtag #UGAOlym. It's the best way to keep up with everything Georgia while everyone is in action!

Thanks, everyone, and we hope you have a great time watching and cheering on the Dawgs! Don't miss tonight's ceremonies starting at 7:30 PM ET!

Go Dawgs!

Connor Nolte's Olympic Summer

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The following is a blog entry written by former UGA men's basketball player Connor Nolte, who is currently pursuing an internship with the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) in Colorado Springs, Colo.

By Connor Nolte, UGA '12

My name is Connor Nolte and I spent the last 3 years at UGA playing basketball for Coach Fox, but now it is time for me to enter the real world. I applied for an internship with the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) during our season.  I remember having a phone interview on the day we flew to play LSU and finding out that I got the job while we were in New Orleans for the SEC tournament. 

The first 6 weeks of my internship have flown by.  I work in the digital media department at the USOC headquarters in downtown Colorado Springs and live ten minutes away at the Olympic Training Center (OTC) alongside world class athletes.

Its been extra busy here with the London 2012 games rapidly approaching but that means I've been able to work on some really cool projects. Here are some of the things I've been doing:

-Instagram: I made it a priority to help Team USA launch its Instagram account from Day 1. We launched it a week after I got here and, as of right now, we have 6500+ followers. You can check out the account here.

-YouTube: The USOC launched its YouTube Channel right when I arrived. I've been able to help out by occasionally uploading or tagging content we post.  One of my favorite parts of my job is related to YouTube; whenever producers come on campus to shoot videos with Olympians, I get to escort the production crews.  I've met some great people who have put together some great videos. I was on set for the filming of this video of Jordan Burroughs, a wrestler who has a great shot at winning the gold medal in London

-TeamUSA.orgMy department is responsible for Team USA's website. My fellow intern, Sarah Higgins (also a blogger), and I have been posting a good percentage of the content that goes up on the site. We receive the content from the writers and make sure it looks good when it gets up on the site. A major undertaking has been Athlete Biographies.  Every time an athlete qualifies, one of us adds him/her to the list of qualifiers. We are constantly working on the bios adding photos and updating the text. I do the photos, Sarah does the text. I'd say that the coolest part of my job was creating the bio for UGA's Shannon Vreeland who will be representing the USA in swimming.  


In case you're wondering, I haven't played too much basketball since our season ended. The one time that I did play basketball here was a pretty cool experience.  Coach Donovan from Florida was coaching the USA U18 team full of some of the best rising seniors/incoming freshmen in the country.  They were scrimmaging the Air Force Academy and Air Force needed an extra player in the second half.  I was a little rusty but went 2 for 2 from the floor for 4 points and did pretty well given the circumstances.


Like I said, it is a great time to be here with London 2012 approaching.  Last night there was a sendoff for USA Boxing. They were taking pictures with fans and signing posters. It was a cool experience to wish them luck in London. They are probably the nicest athletes out here. They have some amazing stories and I can't wait to watch them compete. I was there for most of the interviews used in this piece on 3-time Olympian Rau'Shee Warren's childhood.


We recently went over our plan for the games and it is going to be a busy but exciting time. Unfortunately, I will not be travelling to London. I will be in Colorado posting stories and watching the events on TV. There was a company-wide town hall meeting last week before everyone started heading to London to prepare. They started off showing a slide with all of the new employees. Patrick Sandusky, head of communications, picked my name out of a list of about 50 people and had me stand up and said, "Typically we have some of our interns sing their fight song when they're hired. Go ahead." I've never sung a single note in public before. It was fight or flight. I could either be a good sport and play along or be too cool and sit back down. I "sang" five words "Glory, Glory to ole Georgia", sat down, and turned bright red.  But if I have to sing anything in front of an entire company there are no other words I'd rather sing!

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Connor Nolte (left) with Rau'Shee Warren, three-time Olympian in boxing.

Olympians on campus

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Today we were lucky to have two of Georgia's 24 2012 Olympians on campus to train and meet with the media. Former Bulldogs Chris Colwill (diving) and Reese Hoffa (shot put) were here Tuesday and Georgiadogs.com was there to catch up with the Bulldog greats. Check out Colwill's interview here. Hoffa's to follow.

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Colwill was a three-time NCAA champion and a five-time SEC champion while at Georgia (2004-06, 08). He qualified for the London Games by winning the three-meter springboard at the U.S. Trials in Washington in June.

Meanwhile, Hoffa launched a world-leading mark of 72-2 1/4 in the shot put to win his Olympic Trials at the University of Oregon last month, clinching a berth in his third straight Olympics. He was a five-time All-America for Georgia from 1998-2001.

Georgia in the 2012 Olympics

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We've got Olympic fever here at UGA, and we hope you do, too! So far 24 current or former Georgia student-athletes have qualified for the 2012 Summer Games, which begin in London on July 27. Here is a list of who to watch for next month:

 

Swimming & Diving:

Rising senior Allison Schmitt (USA)

Rising junior Shannon Vreeland (USA)

Rising junior Andrew Gemmell (USA)

Former Bulldog Amanda Weir (USA)

Former Bulldog Kara Lynn Joyce (USA)

Former Bulldog Chris Colwill (USA)

Former Bulldog Wendy Trott (South Africa)

Former Bulldog Troyden Prinsloo (South Africa)

Former Bulldog Sarah Poewe (Germany)

Incoming freshman Brittany MacLean (Canada)

Incoming freshman Matias Koski (Finland)

Incoming freshman Yousef Alaskari (Kuwait)

Incoming freshman Ediz Yildirimer (Turkey)

Track & Field:

Former Bulldog Reese Hoffa (USA)

Former Bulldog Kibwe Johnson (USA)

Former Bulldog Andras Haklits (Croatia)

Former Bulldog Martin Maric (Croatia)

Former Bulldog Hyleas Fountain (USA)

Former Bulldog Jenny Dahlgren (Argentina)

Former Bulldog Sultana Frizell (Canada)

Former Bulldog Levern Spencer (St. Lucia)

 

Men's Tennis: Former Bulldog John Isner (USA)

 

Gymnastics: Incoming freshman Brittany Rogers (Canada)

 

Volleyball: Former Bulldog Lizzie Reid (England)

 

Also, former Lady Bulldog women's basketball star Teresa Edwards has been named the Chef de Mission for the U.S. Olympic Team, and will provide leadership for the squad while functioning as a liaison between the London Organizing Committee, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and other committees at the Games.

 

Men's basketball graduate Connor Nolte is serving this summer as a digital media intern for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) in Colorado Springs, Colo., and will be assisting the governing body with its social media outreach efforts leading up to and during the Olympics.

 

And on Sunday Jarryd Wallace - the son of women's tennis coach Jeff Wallace and former Georgia distance runner Sabina Wallace - was named to the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Track & Field team which starts in August in London.

 

Be sure to keep up with all your favorite Bulldogs as they pursue their Olympic dreams -- follow along for updates here on Between The Hedges and, as always, on Georgiadogs.com.

Bulldogs in the NPF

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It may be the offseason for the Georgia softball team, but things are certainly busier for a handful of former Bulldogs playing in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league, including 2012 graduate Kristyn Sandberg - who recently played in her first professional game with the USSSA Pride. 

Sandberg, who led Georgia in home runs, RBI and batting average in 2012 and garnered All-America honors, made her Pride debut last weekend, batting .600 with three hits in five plate appearances including a double and an RBI.

Sandberg is one of five former Dawgs in the league, including the 2011 Rookie of the Year in Alisa Goler, who has appeared in four games for the Chicago Bandits. Goler is batting .364 with four hits in 11 at bats, registering two doubles and a triple while driving in two and crossing the plate twice.

Brianna Hesson is batting .400 with two hits in five at bats in her first season with the Akron Racers, with one run scored and five RBI in addition to a home run and three walks.

Megan Wiggins is back after earning 2011 All-NPF honors, and has played in four games so far for the Bandits in 2012. She is hitting 3-for-11 with a double, two walks and three runs scored.

Taylor Schlopy has made four appearances for the Racers, currently sitting at .231 on the season with one RBI and four runs scored.

Follow all the Bulldogs in the pros at the NPF web site here
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