LISA DUTTON / BLADE Enlarge
Like many young athletes growing up, Julie Welch sometimes allowed herself to dream of making it to the Olympics.
When the distance runner from West Toledo travels to Athens next week, it will be the fulfillment of that dream. Sort of.
"Sports have been a major part of my life If I had a chance to ever participate in the Games, I would want to," said Ms. Welch, 22. "But volunteering is just as good, I think."
While not quite ready to challenge Olympians on the track, she will be going to Greece to help them in other ways through a program run by Tiffin University, where Ms. Welch is a senior majoring in business management.
The program will allow 17 students from around the country to gain experience volunteering at the Games and receive academic credit for studies in Greek culture or sports management.
"I can feel the excitement," said Bonnie Tiell, a senior lecturer in sports management at Tiffin and one of the program's coordinators.
She said each student is expected to work at either spectator services for the tennis competitions or at the official computing department. Their duties could include anything from copying and computing results to ushering people to their seats and delivering media guides.
Ms. Tiell said officials are trying to acquire tickets to Olympic events for students to enjoy as well.
The key to making all the arrangements has been the program's other coordinator, Janet Hanna, the chairman of Tiffin's English Department, who spent 25 years living and teaching in Greece. Her son still lives in the country, where she has been
since July 5.
The participants were chosen from among 300 applicants and include three Tiffin University students.
Others come from institutions such as the University of Michigan and Ohio State University. The cost per student was $3,200, which includes tuition, travel arrangements, and expenses for the tour.
The Tiffin trip will end Aug. 21. The Olympics are set for Aug. 13-29. Ms. Welch is ready to be there now, even with questions about security and site readiness.
"I'm a little worried, but at the same time I don't want that to be a focus," she said. "It sounds like everything will come together when we get over there."
Contact Ryan E. Smith at: