Editor’s note: This is the second post in a two-post series covering this summer’s TrackTown USA events from the viewpoint of its student interns. Read the first post, “Life as TrackTown USA intern,” by Jake Willard.

As I started my senior year at UO, I was uncertain about career possibilities and internships, but I knew I wanted more experience in social media-related work. So when I saw the posting for a TrackTown USA (TTUSA) intern on the SOJC career services site, I got very excited. If they hired me, the position would not only allow me to exercise the skills I had learned in the SOJC and outside the classroom, it would also let me continue working in sports. As an undergraduate at UO, I’ve worked with UO Athletics as a web intern for GoDucks and as a freelance production assistant for PAC 12 Networks. My knowledge of track and field was minimal, but I was eager to learn about the sport and demonstrate my communication and media skill set.

I was thrilled when TrackTown hired me as one of four interns for the 2016 season. My main responsibility as a communications and social media intern is assisting the digital media coordinator and the director of communication. I also contribute to the development and management of the TrackTown USA social media strategy, which has strengthened my skills as a multimedia journalist. From participating in press conferences, meetings and the overall media coverage at TTUSA to conducting interviews in a fast-paced mixed zone, I’ve learned many new techniques. The events are varied, and I tailor my role and post each day, depending on the event.

As my fellow intern Jake Willard said, 2016 may go down as the best year ever to intern for TTUSA. This year we have already hosted the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships (WIC), 2016 NCAA Track and Field Outdoor Championships (NCAATF), and U.S. Olympic Team Track and Field Trials (TrackTown16), and we will soon host the highly anticipated TrackTown USA Summer Series.

IAAF World Indoor Championships

In March, I got a glimpse of the big stage for TrackTown16. I had a front-row seat at the WIC as a press delegate for the IAAF and as Snapchat lead for TrackTown USA. As a press delegate, I helped prepare and distribute documents to the credentialed media and press. I made sure the media areas were clean for all the hardworking journalists.

When events were taking place, I got to put on my Snapchat Queen crown. I captured world-class athletes competing and interviewed them in real time on Snapchat. From Ashton Eaton to Trayvon Bromell, I did not miss a beat. The TTUSA Snapchat was a big success because it gave viewers behind-the-scenes access to a major competition and allowed them to experience WIC in a unique way. Having supervisors trust my storytelling abilities at a major event like WIC is an experience I will value forever.

Polly Irungu (a.k.a. the TTUSA Snapchat Queen) has been covering TrackTown USA events all summer on Snapchat. A few of her snaps, from left to right: Robby Andrews takes a selfie at the World Indoor Championships, Jasmine Todd and Devon Allen of Oregon T&F pose at TrackTown Tuesday, Brianna Rollins gets in the zone before her race at the WIC, Ducks Head Coach Mark Helfrich takes a selfie with fans, and two-Time Olympian and record-setting shot putter Michelle Carter poses at the WIC. 

NCAA Track and Field Outdoor Championships

Looking back, life after World Indoors seems like a blur. As soon as WIC wrapped up, we began preparing for NCAATF. Remember how I mentioned that I was a senior? During this time, I was not only attending meetings and press conferences but preparing for finals and the SOJC centennial class graduation. During graduation weekend, my time participating at NCAATF was limited. But I still got to witness friends like King Cheserek shatter records. Yes, I had the pleasure of covering that on Snapchat! It was very surreal. It also makes me wonder why, as a Kenyan, I didn’t get the running gene.

U.S. Olympic Team Track and Field Trials

TrackTown USA intern Polly Irungu (bottom left) takes her place among the press covering the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Track and Field Trials at historic Hayward Field.

TrackTown USA intern Polly Irungu (bottom left) takes her place among the press covering the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Track and Field Trials at historic Hayward Field.

The countdown to TrackTown16 began ticking as soon as NCAATF ended on June 11. TTUSA recruited four more interns from across the country to help with the preparations for the big stage. During TrackTown16, I served as the volunteer coordinator for the media center, distributed parking passes to select credentialed media, assisted with photo selection for the souvenir daily programs booklet and acted as Snapchat lead.

It really doesn’t feel like work when you’re doing the things you love. Being able to witness, document and interview world-class athletes as they compete for a spot on Team USA was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The hours were long, but the energy at Hayward Field is not limited to inside the tracks. That Hayward magic and the wonderful volunteers kept me going when I was still working inside the media center even after competition ended.

My internship with TrackTown USA has been an incredible experience. Thank you, TrackTown USA, for giving me the opportunity to apply the knowledge and talent I have learned at the SOJC. I have definitely grown as a multimedia journalist, and working and networking with athletes and others from all over the world have been very rewarding.

If you have not yet experienced TrackTown USA, consider making a trip for the first-ever Summer Series championship, which is happening Friday, July 29!

Story, photos and video by Polly Irungu, BA ’16