Nelson finds unique opportunity over summer
Senior midfielder A.J. Nelson gained unique first-hand experience at Olympics during offseason
Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 15:09
Most of the world was glued to its TV this summer watching athletes compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Men’s soccer midfielder A.J. Nelson was glued to many small monitors throughout the two and a half weeks.
Nelson spent his summer in London, the sight of this year’s Summer Games, interning with NBC. While everyone in the U.S. waited until prime time to watch LeBron James, Michael Phelps and other athletes compete, Nelson had already seen the events and helped put together the highlights shown on TV.
“During the day, while the events were going on, we would have a computer with a logging system and a specific sport for the day,” Nelson said. “We would log highlights for each event so that the editors knew the exact time codes to go back to."
The senior, in his third year at UCF, played in 39 games and registered 17 points entering the 2012 season. Nelson has played in all 180 minutes in the young season so far.
His maturity and leadership on and off the field is what allowed him to travel abroad this summer. Nelson says he was hesitant at first to take the internship, knowing that he’d miss the first few days of training camp, but after being encouraged by head coach Bryan Cunningham, he knew he could take the internship without any problems.
“We knew it was a wonderful opportunity and we wanted to support him in that endeavor,” Cunningham said. “There’s always life after soccer. Hopefully A.J. can go on to play professionally, but if not, we want to make sure all of our athletes are prepared for the real world. And, what’s a better experience than the Olympics?”
Cunningham says he knew he could trust Nelson to do the right thing by staying on top of training while in London and come back to camp in good shape.
The Ponte Vedra native spent his time either before or after work training for the 2012 season. His hotel was located in Russell Square and he did sprints at a nearby park.
“I was a little rusty coming back, but that’s usually how it’s going to be coming back anyway,” Nelson said. “I felt good being fit. I knew that was going to be the biggest part. I knew as long as I stayed fit, the other things would come back with time."
It wasn’t only work and training for Nelson. NBC had special events for interns, including a dinner where each table featured a different celebrity. Nelson got to spend an evening dining with NBC broadcaster Dan Hicks. Despite enjoying the different culture in London, Nelson says the one thing he really missed was American food.
“It was a new experience for me,” Nelson said. “It was different to be out of the country that long. To be around different cultures was a really good experience.”
As for a future in the broadcasting field, Nelson says it’s definitely something he can see in his future. Though he is a finance major, he says anything to do with sports would be a job he’d like to have.