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Volunteers key to Empire State Games’ success

By : Sarah Lifshin

The experience garnered the last time Binghamton University hosted the Empire State Games is paying off as the campus prepares for another stint as host of the state’s largest sporting event next summer. Campus committees, guided by coordinator Tim Schum, have been meeting for several months to make initial plans for an event that is expected to bring 5,000 athletes and up to 15,000 spectators to the community July 28-August 1.

Like Schum, many members of the campus organizing committee had key roles in coordinating the 2000 games, which is making the planning much easier.

The 2004 games will bring some changes, including a larger role for the campus. More than half the games will be conducted on the Binghamton campus, and all athletes will be housed in University residence halls. Sodexho will handle dietary needs. The Events Center and new Mountainview College will also be used. Volunteers will also again play an important role in the days leading up to and during the event.

Schum said efforts would begin in February to attract volunteers to help with different tasks from registering athletes and compiling results to parking and assisting with transportation.

“We want to make sure that people’s first impression on campus is a good one,” Schum said. “We want to make sure that visitors’ questions are answered and that all services are provided.”

Schum said information on volunteering would be distributed in late February. “We have different players playing different roles in contributing to the end goal of putting the University’s best foot forward,” Schum said. “This will not only benefit the community, but also the 5,000 athletes who populate our campus.”

Governor George E. Pataki last spring announced the selection of Binghamton as host for the 27th celebration of the games, one of the largest amateur state-sponsored athletic programs in the nation. BU is hosting the five-day event in conjunction with the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce. In addition, facilities at Broome County Community College and Binghamton and Union-Endicott high schools will be used.

Athletes will represent six regions from across the state, participating in 27 Olympic-style sports. Events are men’s and women’s-basketball, rugby, tennis, boxing, volleyball, softball, baseball, ice hockey, diving, swimming, synchronized swimming, weightlifting, gymnastics, track and field, soccer, sailing, cycling, canoe/kayak, lacrosse, judo, archery, wrestling, bowling, field hockey and rowing.

“This is a huge community effort,” Schum said. “The Chamber of Commerce serves as the local organizing committee and a lot of different agencies are involved. We then plug all that into the University.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08