Rec director has one Olympic experience

September 18, 2012
Lori Sabatose
Clarion University Student Recreation Center director Lori Sabatose sports Royal Guard headgear during her trip to the Olympic Games in London.

If you happened to look really close while watching the London Olympics this summer, you might have seen Clarion's own Lori Sabatose.

Director of Clarion University's Student Recreation Center and the women's tennis coach, Sabatose had the "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity of traveling to London as part of the Olympic Academic Experience.

One of four professional educators accompanying 16 students, Sabatose attended the Olympic Games through Tiffin University in Ohio. Tiffin offers the Olympic Academic Experience, a three-credit course that allows students to spectate, study and serve at the games.

Because of the unique nature of the course, Tiffin opens it up to students and faculty all around the country, "But I was the only representative from Pennsylvania," Sabatose said.

Students within the program study the organization, management and supervision of the international athletic competition. Each of the 16 was able to work with the International Olympic Committee, national governing bodies and the host-site organizing committees, with the goal of understanding the inner workings of the event.

Apart from the games themselves, the 20 Experience members participated in a "Day of Giving." Held at one of the Olympic Reunion Centers, students and advisors hosted a day of games and activities with underprivileged children between the ages of 13 and 18. Teaming up with the children, students conducted trivia contests and mock-Olympic games, including the broad jump, plank hold and funny bowling. As Sabatose put it, the competitions were meant to be "something social, not too competitive."

After the scores were tallied and the winners decided, former Olympians gave inspirational addresses to the children, urging them never to give up on achieving their dreams. Participants also attended afternoon tea, a buffet dinner and a gold medal ceremony, as well as receiving a visit from the Queen's Royal Guardsmen.

When not supervising the students involved in the Experience, Sabatose attended tennis, beach volleyball, basketball and soccer matches. Visiting Wimbledon, though, was one of the highlights of her trip. "As a tennis coach... getting to see where so many great tennis players have played ... it was amazing," she said.

Though she'd previously traveled abroad with tennis teams, Sabatose had never been to an Olympic Games before. "I felt honored to have been selected," she said. Sabatose was chosen out of dozens of applicants to fill one of the supervisory positions.

"My goal now," said Sabatose, "is to expand the program to Clarion, and I'm working to do that. The next Olympics are in Rio, so we'll see."

Clarion University is the high-achieving, nationally recognized, comprehensive university that delivers a personal and challenging academic experience.

Last Updated 4/9/18