Ball State students get trip of a lifetime for 'BSU at the Games'

Professor Ryan Sparrow, far right, and Ball State students walking through South Korea while covering the Winter Olympics (Photo: BSU at the Games)

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (WTHR) — Five Ball State students just experienced the trip of a lifetime. They're living now - what they want to do in their future. They're journalists covering the Winter Olympics.

They spent 10 days in South Korea as fully credentialed journalists with access to athletes, interviews, press conferences and very, very long days.

This is the fourth time Ball State has offered a class covering the Olympic Games. Professor Ryan Sparrow says it give students a chance to see what working journalists do — with real deadlines, real obstacles and real job experience.

"Getting behind the scenes and just seeing how difficult coverage of this really is. There's the equipment, there's the luggage just the logistics of it all," he explains of the challenges. "And then on top of that there is the cultural stuff. Just getting in and seeing different environments and seeing different people and trying to integrate and trying to communicate."

Ball State senior Kara Biernat covered Nick Goepper's press conference on one of her first days in PyeongChang.

"Its nothing short of amazing that I got to go up and talk to everyone. It was crazy. I'm talking to coach, I'm covering Nick Goepper. Even looking around me, there are professional media outlets, I'm just here, I'm in the mix of it and I can't wait for the rest of the week!"

Samantha Johnson, who went to Martinsville High School, was with Biernat at the presser. She runs camera and does interviews. She called the experience "priceless."

"It's pretty incredible. I emailed my teacher back at Martinsville High School who actually got me started on this whole journalism dream. I emailed him and said 'look what I'm doing now.' So it's kind of a full circle," she explained.

And they're all quickly learning that media life on the road isn't that glamorous. When they arrived they learned that their hotel is a traditional Korean room.

Johnson told Dave Calabro they're sleeping on a "very thin mattress a sheet and a pillow. And that's about it," Johnson said. "But we're going to make it work. This opportunity is priceless so we're going to enjoy every second of it."

She admits that sleeping is overrated because this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"I never in a million years thought that I would be at the Winter Olympics reporting for Ball State, so it's a bucket list and it's some thing that I will really remember forever." Johnson said. "This is the bow on the Ball State experience if you will, then we'll see what comes next in May."

All five of the Ball State students contributed digital stories, video and photos to WTHR during their time at the Olympics. You can see some of their work here:

See all the students' work on the BSU at the Games website.

Student photographer Grace Hollars covering the 2918 Winter Olympics in South Korea. (Photo: BSU at the Games)
Student photographer Grace Hollars covering the 2918 Winter Olympics in South Korea. (Photo: BSU at the Games)

Ball State student photographer Grace Hollars took some incredible photos while covering the games. You've seen many of them, including gold medalists Shaun White and REd Gerard, right here on During the games, her work was recognized by the folks at canon. Read professor Ryan Sparrow's blog about the experience here.