Team of Penn State students ready for working trip to Paralympics in Rio

August 26, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The excitement surrounding the Olympics in Rio has a special resonance for nine Penn State students who will be heading to Brazil next month to cover the Paralympics.

Through the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, the students and four faculty members, including College of Communications Dean Marie Hardin, will travel to Rio de Janeiro on Sept. 9 for 10 days to report on the world’s second-largest multi-sport festival for The Associated Press.

Students making the trip are: Nicole Barros, Antonella Cresimbeni, Allison Gasparetti, Brett Gravatt, Cameron Hart, Emily Peacock, Anna Pitingolo, Garrett Ross and Shannon Ryan.

Their efforts are part of a partnership between Penn State, the University of Georgia and the AP to expand coverage of the Paralympics. The content produced by the students will be available to news organizations worldwide.

“The Paralympics are a major world sporting event, but falling as they do during the busy fall sports season in the United States — not to mention the middle of political campaign season — they are traditionally undercovered by the U.S. media,” said John Affleck, director of the Curley Center and the Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society. “Working through the AP, our students and the Georgia students will help to address that issue, while at the same time creating an incredible opportunity for the Penn Staters to improve their skills and gain professional exposure.”

The students met for two days after commencement in May to begin preparations for their trip. They have been meeting regularly since the start of the semester to finalize details and their plans. As part of that preparation, the students and faculty members met with Jonna Belanger, a Paralympic classification expert and instructor in the Penn State Department of Kinesiology, to discuss the various levels of classification within each Paralympic event.

“I honestly couldn't be more excited for Rio,” said Allison Gasparetti, a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. “It's such an amazing opportunity that I've gotten to be a part of. I'm really looking forward to getting to see the culture of Brazil, and also getting to work with some of the best people from the College of Comm and the University of Georgia. It's been so great getting to learn about the Paralympic movement, and I really hope to be able to share some of that knowledge with more people through our work while we're down there.”

Updates about the Penn State students and faculty as they cover the Paralympics will be shared on the Curley Center’s Facebook page and its Twitter account. Both are available @PSUCurleyCenter.

The Paralympics effort continues an approach consistently practiced by the Curley Center to provide students with hands-on experience at major sporting events. As part of similar working trips, Penn State students have covered the U.S. Open, the Croke Park Classic, the Final Four and a historic trip by the Penn State baseball team to Cuba.

Established in 2003 as a first-of-its-kind endeavor in higher education, the Curley Center explores issues and trends in sports journalism through instruction, outreach, programming and research. The center offers core courses in sports broadcasting, sports writing and sports information, as well as a course in sports media and society.

Those courses are complemented with an emphasis on internships and hands-on experience with broadcast, multimedia and print outlets as well as with league, sport and team publicity and sports information operations. In September 2005, the Center was awarded a $1.5 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to establish the Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society.

Last Updated September 02, 2016