Savannah Smith ('14) | Advertising & Public Relations
Advertising/public relations major
from Dallas, Texas
More than 500,000 spectators from around the globe flocked to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. ACU basketball player Savannah Smith was right there alongside them, but she had a better view than most.
The advertising and public relations major from Dallas landed a prestigious internship with the U.S. Men's and Women's Olympic basketball teams.
Smith's journey to the Games began with phone interviews last November. In February, her efforts were rewarded with news that she would be going to London.
"When I found out I had gotten the internship, I was ecstatic and couldn't stop smiling over the ways God chooses to shine light in my life," Smith recalls.
Using her education
During her internship, Smith worked with the Olympic Committee on allocating tickets, shadowed NBC sportscaster Ann Meyers-Drysdale, and held private tours of London for the team and their families. She used the communications skills learned at ACU to showcase the best London attractions, including the Tower of London, Hampton Palace, Oxford, Stonehenge, Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abby.
"ACU prepared me for my internship by teaching me that it is important to always please and serve the 'customer,' "she says.
Meeting a mentor
One of Smith's personal highlights was shadowing NBC network reporter and retired U.S. basketball player Ann Meyers Drysdale. Meyers Drysdale taught her how to gather information and arrange it to create the best time on-air.
"There is so much organization, communication, preparation and security to make a seamless and smooth broadcast," explains Smith. "Information gathering takes place days, if not weeks, in advance to make a two-hour broadcast as interesting as possible. There were many blowout games for the women's team, and it was helpful and necessary to have stories, inside scoops and stats to fill the downtime. I look forward to learning more from Ann in the coming years."
Discovering a family
"The most surprising thing I learned is that the USA basketball team family is just that - a big family," says Smith. "The NBA and the Olympic committee work so closely together to reach a high level of execution, but with a tremendous attitude of one family working toward a final goal."
Smith, who is a guard for the ACU women's basketball team, was fortunate to interact with many members of the NBA family. She spent time with players LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Deron Williams, James Harden, Carmelo Anthony, Tameka Catchings, Sue Bird, Angel McCoughtry and Diana Taurasi.
Smith says she spent the most time with Chris Paul, point guard for the L.A. Clippers. She found to her surprise that the players and their families were kind, down-to-earth, and many of them outspoken about their Christian faith.
Smith also met Mark Emmert, president of the NBA; Renee Brown, chief of basketball operations and player relations for the WNBA; and several Nike representatives for the NBA.
Achieving a goal
The London Games were a success for Smith and for the U.S. men's and women's teams she worked with. The players’ goal was to win two gold medals, which they achieved. The women's team won its fifth consecutive gold medal, almost unheard of at the Olympics level. The men's team set an Olympic record with scoring the most points in one game - an incredible 157 points.
"It's going to be hard to top the personal and professional experiences I had this summer," admits Smith. "I learned so much from my internship through how the Olympic Committee and the NBA work together to create a smooth international effort and to present the best basketball players in the world."
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