Written by: Scott Rosenthal
Coming fresh off our (Greater Cleveland Sports Commission) last event, the 2010 Cleveland Clinic Sports Health International Youth Sports Festival, it was time to bring it once again for our next international sporting event (see my post below for details on that event). From July 21-24, I had the opportunity to work as an integral part of the 2010 World School Games, an international sports tournament for high school-aged kids from throughout the world. This event served as an even more of a cultural experience from the last one, as the majority of the participating athletes traveled to Cleveland from outside of the United States. For four days, tournaments in the sports of soccer, basketball, track & field, tennis, swimming and volleyball dominated the landscape of Gilmour Academy in suburban Cleveland, while the athletes & coaches stayed in John Carroll University for lodging and food. Marked by a festive, star-filled Opening Ceremonies, the 2010 World School Games proved to be similar in structure to the 2010 Cleveland Clinic Sports Health International Youth Sports Festival; yet the experiences were incredibly rewarding in many different realms different from what we all experienced just a couple weeks ago. At the aforementioned Opening Ceremonies, celebrities such as Ahmad, the personality from all Cleveland Cavalier home games’ in-game entertainment and his dancing Scream Team, ran the show for the evening at John Carroll University. As nearly 300 athletes paraded into the gymnasium representing their country & team announcement, one could only feel like the atmosphere resembled that of an Olympic Opening Ceremony. Then came the kicker – former Olympic gold medalists Diana Munz (swimming) & Dominique Moceanu (gymnastics) spoke with the participating athletes about their path to athletic excellence and relayed some important messages about perseverance, hard work, love for their sport and the ultimate success of winning a gold. While I was in the midst of running around organizing the event and helping out with whatever needed work, I even stopped for a few minutes to take in the incredibly valuable words of the former-Olympic gold medalists — their speech resonated very strongly in my mind.
As the event continued, all the sports going on at once at Gilmour Academy proved to be one of the cooler features of the tournament; being able to walk just a few feet to see a Chinese girls school play John Hay High School in basketball was a treat for all to see. The attention to detail and sportsmanship displayed by all the athletes and coaches was quite a spectacle; getting to witness athletes trade jerseys after games was a special moment that the players and coaches will surely never forget.
With the conclusion of the 2010 World School Games, I look back on the two large events I worked on through my internship at the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and feel mostly grateful for such an opportunity. Getting to interact with those that have different cultures than my own was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that not only benefited myself, but even more boosted the confidence of hundreds of youth athletes worldwide that were making some of their first trips to America.