The opening ceremonies for the World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea.
The World University Games are something of a legacy for Eric Zillmer, Drexel’s director of athletics.
Zillmer, PsyD, will be a part of the United States team that has headed to Gwangju, South Korea, for the games between university students from across the world spanning July 3–15. He brought this up to his 92-year-old mother recently.
“When I told her I was going to the World University Games, to my surprise, she responded, ‘I know what they are, I was in them!’” Zillmer said.
A world-class figure skater, it turns out that Zillmer’s mother represented Austria during the 1940s in the games (which are known to the rest of the world as the Universiade) while she was a physics PhD student at the University of Vienna.
As the second generation of his family to be a part of the games, Zillmer is certainly not Drexel’s only representative in South Korea. Two Drexel student-athletes will participate in events and three graduate students will help out in behind-the-scenes work at the international competition.
Courtney Jones is a sport management student in Drexel’s contingent at the games.
When Karen Weaver, EdD, the interim program director of sport management, asked if anyone wanted to participate, Jones, an online master’s student, jumped at the chance.
“I felt this would be a good experience and, since I don’t have a lot of firsthand experience in athletics, I thought this would be a good way to dive in,” said Jones, who is serving as a marketing intern for the World University Games.
She’s covering badminton, men’s volleyball and taekwondo.
As an online student, Jones feels this is a better chance to interact in-person with the Drexel community, even if she’ll be 7,000 miles away from the University City campus.
On top of that, Jones is excited to help out the school for future endeavors.
“I’m helping the Athletics Department by being their eyes and ears on how things are run there,” Jones said. “Athletics would like to expand their participation in future games.”
In addition to Jones, two Drexel nutrition graduate students will serve as interns at the games: Margaret Buell and Erin Sheridan. Nutrition science faculty member Nyree Dardarian will also be on site to supervise her students.
Between the lines, two star student-athletes will represent Drexel.
Ian Lutzoq of Drexel’s Dad Vail Regatta-winning crew was asked to compete on the United State’s all-star rowing team.
And Drexel women’s soccer goalkeeper Eve Badana will also play in the games, though she is actually suiting up with the Irish contingent, as she is a member of that country’s national team.
Hampered by injuries in the fall Drexel season, Badana expects to train hard and compete for playing time in this, her second, World University Games.
“Luckily, I have had a fair amount of experience competing at an elite level of play,” Badana said. “I am a member of the Senior Irish Women’s Squad, which has shown me some of the highest level of play in the world. The World University Games are a great exhibition of young talent, and I am truly excited to experience it.”
Playing against such high competition should also help Badana come back to the Drexel squad better than ever. Overall, she, like the rest of Drexel’s contingent at the event; hope to represent their University well.
“At the end of the day, I want to positively represent Ireland and Drexel in a way that reflects how proud I am to be associated with them,” Badana said.
Zillmer suggest that Drexel’s participation fulfills a larger mission.
“Sports is an international language that brings our world community together while celebrating athletic excellence,” he said. “The World University Games are a symbol of peace and hope in our youth. Having Drexel faculty, student-athletes and graduate students be an integral part of this international sporting event is a moment we will likely never forget.”