In this edition of the Behind
The Hedges Q&A, we sat down with Director of Event Management Christie
Purks. With two degrees from UGA and with her vast experience including serving
as the meet director of the 2001 and 2008 NCAA Gymnastics Championships in
Athens, Purks has just about seen and done it all in her time in the UGAAA.
you're the Director of Event Management - could you take us through your
there no such thing as an average day?
That would be very true. There's a lot of variety--you can kind of put my job
into two categories: one is the daily planning that involves being in the
office, drafting memos and having meetings, and then the other portion is when
I'm out at the events, at the tennis or basketball court. Those days are more
troubleshooting and problem-solving, taking care of issues as they come up as
opposed to the planning of the other category.
you have a favorite subpart of either part?
like being out of the office. There's a lot of variety, you come in contact
with lots of different people. It's not that it's easier, because you're
dealing with problems, but I do enjoy being out. I would not do well sitting
behind a desk every day, so that's one reason why I've kind of been drawn to
did you come to be at UGA?
have two degrees from the University--I was a Public Relations major as an
undergrad and later got my graduate degree in Sport Administration. I had the
good fortune one summer as an undergrad to work for the athletic department as
a student intern. That got my foot in the door and gave me the opportunity to
meet Lewis Gainey, who at the time was the Assistant Athletic Director for
Event Management. When I got done with classes for my graduate degree, I needed
an internship to complete the program. Lewis offered one to me helping plan a
swimming and diving national championship and, once I was done, offered me a
full time job.
coordinated several other national championships across a variety of sports,
have! I tell students who come talk with me that that's what I consider myself
most fortunate for being able to work at Georgia, because we host a lot of postseason
events. Many institutions just don't have the resources, either staff-wise or
financially, to be able to host these kinds of events, but the University of
Georgia has always taken pride in hosting postseason events so I feel like I've
actually been given the opportunity to plan big events on a big stage at UGA. Maybe
my favorite - well, I shouldn't say favorite - maybe the largest event I've
gotten to handle was the 2008 Women's Gymnastics National Championship.
did win, which is always nice.
you say it's not your favorite, is it because you have a different one, or
because you're not going to pick favorites?
won't pick favorites. I've done two gymnastics championships, two swimming and
diving national championships, and a tennis one, too. They're all different and
unique and come with their own stories. But that one was by far the largest I've
had to coordinate and put on.
the hardest part--is it that kind of size and scale?
That's one part of it--with the gymnastics, we tried very hard to replicate the
way it's done at the Olympics, with the gymnasts competing on podiums that had
to be constructed from scratch. It brought about lots of different challenges
for the facility, we had to build the platforms and rearrange seating in the
arena. Way different than a regular season gymnastics meet.
BtH: A lot
of tough logistics and planning must go into these events. What's something you
like to do to relax, your favorite part of Athens?
Well, I grew up in Atlanta, so I do like the big city life, but it's replicated
really well for scale here. And Athens has a lot of great restaurants, that's
definitely my favorite part. But I also went to school here and loved it, and I
just feel like I'm one of the fortunate ones who got to hang around.
---By Eliot Beckham
Big shoutout to our very own Hairy Dawg for his appearance in the latest "This Is SportsCenter" spot, which debuts today on ESPN! Hairy was on site in Bristol last month and got to check out some of the sights around the ESPN campus -- including sitting in for this shoot!
Congrats to Hairy on his small-screen debut!
You can check out the commercial here
EXCITING NEWS!! As of today our Twitter account for Between The Hedges - @UGAHedgesBlog - is up and running! This account will keep you connected to the UGA Athletic Association and all of your favorite Bulldog teams by tweeting links to these blog posts, sharing pictures and videos from around campus, and just giving you an overall idea of what's going on here in Athens! We hope you enjoy it and please give us a follow!
This week Between the Hedges
checks in with UGA track & field star Morgann Leleux. Leleux, a
pole-vaulter, was runner up at this year's NCAA National Indoor Championships
and is currently the top American in the outdoor rankings. Here's what she had
Thanks for sitting down to talk with us, Morgann. Why don't you tell us a
little about yourself--how'd you end up pole-vaulting at Georgia?
Well, I'm from New Iberia, Louisiana, where my dad was my pole vault coach and
I was a gymnast. He was the one who gradually got me into pole vaulting and I
guess I ended up being good enough to come here on scholarship.
BtH: A lot
of our readers, not to mention myself, won't be too familiar with the details
of your sport. Why don't you take us through a meet day leading up to your
really try to stay relaxed, keep my adrenaline low. I try not to get too
excited. And before I even go out there I give myself a number that I want to
reach like 14' 4". Up until the meet starts I do my warmups, I stay relaxed,
and when it comes I turn my adrenaline on and get ready to jump high. That way
I come in at a high height and from there, take it and keep going higher.
know that at your first ever competition you tied the then-school record (14' 3½'').
What's your current personal best, and what are you aiming for?
Right now, my best is 14' 5¼''. The last home meet I wasn't actually supposed
to jump, but Coach [Petros Kyprianou] was like, "Hey, it's a good day! Go grab
your spikes and uniform, you're gonna jump today."
Really! How'd you feel about that?
No, it was good. It was originally just going to be a conditioning week for me,
and I had lifted extra and all that, so we just treated it as practice and just
gave me a fun home meet to jump without much pressure.
obviously a really taxing sport. Do stress injuries like shin splints ever bug
think because of gymnastics those problems don't really bother me. Doing
gymnastic means you have to keep yourself really fit--I was a level 10 back
college level, isn't it?
I've actually been training gymnastics on the side. My coach says that if I
make 15 feet then I can try and be a Gym Dog as well.
really cool, we'd love to see you out there. But why 15 feet?
That's the height that'll get me a look with the Olympic team. I'm going to the
Olympic trials soon. It's really stressful. Because of all the competition for
spots in the US, it basically comes down to how high you jump on that one day.
If I can make 15' then I'll probably end up in the top 3, and get a spot on the
awesome. Good luck, and thanks again.
-By Eliot Beckham
Just got back from shooting men's tennis Senior Day interviews over at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. It's become somewhat of a tradition for our video team to put together videos in advance of each team's final home match to celebrate the careers of that graduating senior class, and today we sat down with the foursome of Sadio Doumbia, Will Reynolds, Wil Spencer,
and Ignacio Taboada.
This group is unique in that three of the four - Doumbia, Spencer, and Taboada - all transferred to Georgia last year and so they have only been playing together the past two seasons. That said, they've developed into one of the strongest senior classes in Bulldog history, with Doumbia a consistent winner at anywhere from 1-3 singles, Spencer a staple in the ITA top-10, and Taboada easily one of the toughest No. 4 players in the country with a glistening 16-1 dual match record in 2012. It's amazing to wonder where this Georgia team would be without the good fortune of having added those three guys two summers ago. It will be fun to watch them play their final regular-season home match in Athens this Sunday, and what makes it even better is that the Bulldogs are in the thick of chasing their 34th SEC championship!
Check Georgiadogs.com on Thursday for the feature!
John Bateman's job at the UGA Athletic
Association is officially the Director of Marketing, but as he puts it, it's
hard to call something you love "work." In the first edition of the Between The
Hedges Q&A, we sat down with Bateman to learn what he does for the UGAAA.
BtH: Thanks for sitting down with us. Could you
describe what being the Director of Marketing entails, what an average day is
Bateman: Well, I usually like to get in around 7:30 -
I read up on what's going around in the SEC online, make sure I'm up to date on
what other schools are doing - and then after that, it's really a mixed bag. On
non-event days, I'll do work around the office with our student assistants and
interns to prepare for and handle group and single game tickets for events coming up. On days we do have events,
I'll usually organize ticket sales at the student bookstore or coordinate large
sales to groups. Then I'll head to the event and make sure that
souvenirs and concessions are running smoothly and that our groups are having fun. Around halfway we'll get
attendance figures, and that's when the cycle begins again.
BtH: Last night's baseball game against Georgia
Tech drew a crowd of 3,004, a season high.
Bateman: Yeah, it went really well. Georgia versus
Georgia Tech is always such a great and competitive game no matter the sport,
and always draws a large crowd. It helps when the weather is as nice as it was
yesterday. We tried hard to promote it within the student body specifically,
and we couldn't have asked for a better turnout. 1,044 of that crowd were
students, which completely surpassed expectations. So thanks to them for making
it such a great success.
BtH: The game didn't go too bad either (Georgia
won by a scoreline of 7-1).
Bateman: As marketers, we don't throw touchdowns,
make free throws or score goals, but we do influence the game. We try to pitch
the event to the fans as what it is: an enjoyable SEC sporting event put on by
one of the top athletic programs in the nation, featuring incredible student-athletes.
BtH: What you do for Georgia is really
appreciated. How did you end up here?
Bateman: I grew up in Albany and came to UGA as an
undergraduate in '86, graduating in '91. I got my Masters degree in education
from the graduate school here, focusing in sport management. As an undergrad I
had been a student manager with the basketball team, and that was where I got
started. After grad school I interned for a while at the offices of the
Southeastern Conference in Birmingham, but came back in '94 to work on the
promotions staff. I haven't left since.
BtH: So Athens has kind of been a second home to
you. What's your favorite part about living here?
Bateman: Oh, do I have to pick one? It's America's
greatest college town. The food, the music, the downtown life... it's just so
easy to go out and get involved, to meet people. I've had the opportunity to
coach the Athens Academy 5th and 6th grade girls'
basketball team, just through friends I've met. The town keeps you young.
BtH: If it's hard to pick one aspect of Athens you like
most, it's got to be even harder to pick the best thing about work.
Bateman: It's hard to call it going to work, really.
But getting to interact with all the students is certainly a highlight. We have
an especially close relationship with the campus community.
BtH: You're the "Mayor of Milledge," right?
Bateman: Some of the [fraternities and sororities] came up with that
nickname for me a while back, just because we're so involved in marketing events
and coordinating with them.
BtH: I've seen it's your twitter handle, @mayorofmilledge.
You've got quite a following.
Bateman: I just talk about Georgia, and make sure
people know when and where events are happening. It's not hard selling the
next week for another edition of the Q&A!
! It's a big day! Just wanted to wish everyone a happy first day of spring practice!! The team gets underway today for the first of its 14 dates leading up to the annual G-Day intrasquad scrimmage Sat., April 14 at 3 p.m.
Good Monday morning, Bulldog Nation! I hope that if you had a chance to get away for Spring Break that you had a great time and were able to stay connected to all your favorite Georgia teams along the way!
Wanted to make sure you all don't miss a great opportunity to showcase your Georgia Bulldog pride with this great contest! State Farm - through its 2012 UGA Spirit Shirt contest - is offering you the chance to design a Georgia t-shirt for the chance to win $1,000.
The winning design will be selected by UGA students, and must be submitted by March 21. That's just two days from now, so get designing!
All the information you need, including how to upload your design, can be found here
The UGA Volleyball team is currently enjoying its spring break week in Wilmington, N.C., mixing a lot of fun and downtime in with some serious training and preparation for the upcoming 2012 season.
trip to Wilmington, the team is spending its mornings training on the
beach, followed by practice at a local high school. Georgia will put its hard work
into practice as it faces East Carolina in a scrimmage today. The team
will also spend the time working together to cook meals and bonding.
spring break getaway, the Bulldogs will continue their spring season, traveling
to Chapel Hill, N.C., to take on UNC on March 24. Georgia will make the trip to
Clemson on April 4 to take on the Tigers, before wrapping up the spring
season on April 21 when it hosts Georgia Southern at the Ramsey Student Center
at 3 p.m. Fans are encouraged to attend the match and admission is free.
With spring practice set to
begin for the Georgia football team next Tuesday (a week from tomorrow) and the
annual G-Day spring game set for April 14, which will be here before we know
it, head coach Mark Richt sat down to touch base with the media before he heads
out of town for his own "spring break" of sorts.
Richt started by talking
about the team's somewhat different approach to strength and conditioning for
the upcoming season, which includes two new hires in that department. Read
about that here.
With Sherman Armstrong, the
team is looking to "bolster the speed element," Richt said, as Armstrong has
extensive experience working with all types of athletes on speed, strength and
quickness. Meanwhile, John Thomas - who comes to Georgia after 20 seasons on
the staff at Penn State - will specialize in high intensity training. Richt was
pleased with the fact that the team will now be able to offer a diverse approach
when it comes to strength and conditioning because the plans can be different
for each player. "One size does not fit all" when it comes to strength and
conditioning, Richt said.
The head coach also talked
about the fact that spring practice is a great time to get back to the fundamentals
and work on the little things. He is excited to get to see who is already showing
they're ready to play football in the Southeastern Conference, and "which guys
are mature enough to get into the ballgame."
Finally, exciting news out
of the press conference was the announcement that Richt as well as Todd
Grantham have signed contract extensions and will be with the Bulldogs for many
years to come. Read more about that good news here.
Full video of the press conference is here.
Can't believe spring ball is
already almost here! Go Dawgs!