Track and field team

takes to talk show circuit

on California trip

People vanishing without a trace. Divorced women over the age of 40. The Emory track and field team. What could these possibly have in common? All were featured on "Leeza," a national television talk show hosted by Leeza Gibbons. The former two were subject matter, but the Emory track team debuted as part of the studio audience at the show's taping in California.

Attending the show was actually a creative form of fundraising for the track team, a move initiated by Coach John Curtin. In return for bringing the Emory group of 30 athletes, the show paid the team about $1,000 for its appearance.

"A coach in San Diego does the same thing with his team and told me about the oppportunity," said Curtin. "Being on the show is a good deal for both sides because the show needs large groups of people and, in return, the money helps us defray some of the costs of our travel."

Luckily the show, which tapes two weeks a month, happened to be taping during the week of the team's spring training trip. They managed to squeeze the day's appearance between a trip to Disneyland, rock climbing and other activities.

"The show was a break from all the tourist attractions during the week," said sophomore Jamie Hagerbaumer. "It was different than anything we did the rest of the trip and probably different from anything I'll do the rest of my life."

During the day, the show taped two episodes. The first, "Missing Without a Trace," dealt with mysterious disappearances and subsequently aired on March 26.

Sophomore Franziska Janes was one of the audience members selected to ask a question during the episode.

"I was really excited to see myself on television," said Janes. "I think it turned out pretty well. I taped it and am going to have to make copies for everyone."

On the second show, featuring divorced women in their 40s, the students did more than just watch and ask questions. Two were actually summoned to be part of the show. Sophomore Ross Gandy and senior Chris Essick appeared on stage to allow the women subjects to practice flirting with younger men. The episode will air on an unspecified date.

"I was nervous after I was volunteered by Coach to be on the show," said Essick. "Once the whole thing started, it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I'm looking forward to seeing how it all turned out."

The experience was a big surprise to Gandy and his friends, who found out about the show after he returned to Atlanta.

"It was definitely an unexpected thing to all of a sudden be up on stage, but having the team in the stands was a big help," said Gandy. "Most of the people who have found out about the episode thought it was funny or were in disbelief."

And the team's appearance was definitely a positive learning experience. "I think it was a unique opportunity for the kids to see the process and all that goes into making a television show," said Curtin. "They had a chance to be involved in the show, and I think they came across well."

-Erick Smith

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