Team USA and Japan battling in a water polo match during the World University Games that the Americans eventually won 12-11. Photo credit: Drexel Athletics.
For a collection of Drexel students, the 28th World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea, served as an invaluable and life-changing experience.
More than 160 countries and 12,000 athletes competed in what is known as the “Olympics for student-athletes.”
Drexel rower Ian Luetzow competed in the straight heavyweight four, for which the United States finished sixth overall.
Team USA had its most successful Universiade (as the rest of the world knows the World University Games) ever, winning more than 50 medals and placing in the top five of the medal count alongside South Korea, Russia, China and Japan.
Drexel’s athletic director, Eric Zillmer, PsyD, assisted with the sports intern program for Team USA at the 2015 World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea. Photo credit: Drexel Athletics.
Eve Badanna, meanwhile, of Drexel’s women’s soccer team, started in goal in two games for the Irish team at the games. She notched a clean sheet in the team’s last game of the tournament against Colombia, when Ireland won decisively 8-0.
Behind the scenes, Drexel students worked hard to keep the games running smoothly.
Margaret Buell, Erin Sheridan and Courtney Jones walked the opening ceremonies, lived in the athletes’ village, acted as liaisons for several of the U.S. teams, and assisted with the formidable logistics of the Games.
Jones is an online sports management graduate student and Buell and Sheridan are nutrition undergraduate students who were at the games with Nyree Dardarian, the director of Drexel’s Center for Integrated Nutrition & Performance.
Erin Sheridan catching up with Drexel faculty member Nyree Dardarian at the Men’s Basketball Semifinals at the World University Games. Photo credit: Drexel Athletics.
“Working in a community with Team USA, where everyone rallies around the same goals while experiencing a new culture has been a life-changing event for me,” said Buell.
“This is my first time out of the country. I have not only been able to experience Korean culture but, because this is an international event, many other cultures as well,” added Sheridan. “It is great to talk to so many different people in the athletes’ village and hear their opinion on nutrition throughout the world. It was awesome!”
With this experience under its belt, Team Drexel is already planning to increase the sports intern program for the World University Games in 2017, which will be held in Taipei, Taiwan.