Post-Europe Olympic Things: Thank You, Steve Boyd

It's been about two weeks since I've gotten home from Copenhagen, and to be honest, I haven't done much. I took a few days to recover and allow my body to repair itself; there was a deadline mix-up for the final project of one of my classes, and I ended up working furiously for four hours to get it in on time; I saw Jessie Cave's play and got to meet her afterwards; and I saw Nat Tena's band play for free in St. Pancras Station, and got to meet her afterwards.

Other than that, though, my life has basically been consumed by two things: volunteering for the Olympics, and trying to figure out how I can keep doing so through the summer. I have so much availability now that I'm not in class that I'm picking up shifts left and right. I'm basically obsessed with it. The ceremonies are in rehearsals now, so I'm getting to see bits of what they look like, and have even been smiled at by Danny Boyle. It's beyond excellent. When I'm not there, I want to be.

...Which makes it even worse that I most likely won't get to do it this summer. I won't go into detail about my visa issues, but basically, the government of this country makes zero sense. I've been trying to get help, but the advice center at QM is so not helpful, and the American Embassy wouldn't even let me through security. Cool, guys. I'm doing what I want to do, and it looks like I'll have to give it up because the government sucks and nobody wants to give a straight answer to my questions. So, between all the highs and lows, my emotions have been all over the map.

Now, bear with me for a moment while I remind you of things I blogged about back in February. After the initial volunteer orientation, I said:

In one of our sessions, the guy leading us went year by year through the Summer Olympics and asked us our memories. When he got to 2004 (Athens), I raised my hand and said, "A lot of swimming, a lot of beautiful scenery, and in the closing ceremony, the giant torch was put out by a little girl like she was blowing a candle." He thought it was interesting, since they put on these massive performances, to see what people actually remember of them. :)

And my favorite quotes of the day:

"You are now a part of the center of the universe. As we like to say here, 'no pressure! There are only four billion people watching!'"

"The Olympics is the most complex peacetime venture. The only thing more complex than the Olympics is a war."

 Just... keep this in mind. Especially the underlined bit.

So anyway, this guy (Steve) is in charge of the mass movement team (which basically means he choreographs the movement of thousands of people), so I see him all the time, and he's always in and out of the office when us volunteers are up there helping out. During one of my shifts this week, he walks in, and the guy next to me says, "See him? He's a genius." He goes on to tell me he's worked on some big name movies (High School Musical 3, for example), so I laugh and say, "Oh my god, that's fantastic. I definitely need to look him up!"

After learning that his full name is Stephen Boyd, I hit the internet to see what I can see. I ended up learning that, yes, he did work on High School Musical 3... but he's also worked on every single Olympic Games since Barcelona in 1992. I found an article about him from his alma mater's newspaper, and allow me to quote it for a second here:

He was a corporate art director by 1999, but his day job wasn’t his dream job.
Even at UD, when professors talked to undergraduate Boyd about what he wanted after graduation, his answer was pinpoint-specific: Be a graphic designer for an Olympics.
“My whole family is jocks. My dad [Mike, AG ’62] was a scholarship football player. My mom [Jane, CHS ’60] was the only female phys. ed. major her whole four years of college. I grew up in a town where not much happened, so, when the Olympics came on, I was in heaven. When the 1984 Olympics in L.A. was televised, the venue designs were really exuberant and over-the-top garish. I thought, ‘Oh, that’s my way in.’ The Games ended the day before I started at Delaware.” He opted to major in visual communications. 
Boyd says his Delaware professors and his magazine bosses in Manhattan helped him move toward his dream. “It was just people understanding that I was someone with a desire to do something really specific. A lot of people just cut me a break for being young, dumb and excited,’’ Boyd says. 
He worked several jobs at once and made connections all over New York City. He worked weekends for free for an art director who led him on about a job at the 1992 Olympics, but Boyd says the guy blew town for Barcelona without him. Fortunately, a chance meeting with an old acquaintance on a Manhattan street just before the Games began led to a radio job at the Olympics. 
That first gig was a perfect low-pressure entrĂ©e to his dream, and it came with ringside seats to every Olympic event. Boyd was hooked. 
He went on to Lillehammer in 1994, Nagano in 1998, Atlanta in 1996, Sydney in 2000 and Salt Lake City in 2002. 
And, last year, in Athens, he literally ran part of the show. As a coordinating producer, Boyd made sure the presentation of the presidential speeches had proper pomp, athletes paraded without a hitch and the torchbearers made it to the cauldron without a glitch.

Excuse me for a moment while I go sob quietly in a corner.

This is the guy who thought it was interesting that I remembered the little girl from the Athens closing ceremony. He was there. He was running the show. This is the guy whose Mexico City '68 shirt I complimented after volunteer orientation. This is the guy who talked about the Olympics being the center of the universe and the most complex peacetime venture. He actually knows that they ARE. I found his website, which goes into more detail about what he's done -- he's behind the amazing audience light stunts in Vancouver, stage managed the presidential box in Torino, designed lanterns, placards, the massive logo quilt, and ran the audience stunts in Salt Lake City, etc. etc. etc. This guy, who walks around rehearsals in his neon pink mass movement team high-vis vest with a smile on his face, and makes sure the casting team volunteers are recognized and thanked by the performers that are rehearsing.

He was in charge of choreographing THAT.

I literally do not know how to deal with this information.

Steve has the life that I want. I am him when he was in college. I still don't think my advisor quite believes me when I tell him what I want to do, but he won't dissuade me from it because I'm "young, dumb, and excited." Except he knows I'm smart, so he really doesn't know what to think about my extreme single-mindedness. But Steve wanted to be involved with the Olympics, and he IS. Has been for 20 years. How's that for single-mindedness?

I wanted to cry as I was reading this. It just filled me with so much hope. Even if I have to leave this summer and miss working at the actual ceremonies, this doesn't have to be the end for me. I will have more opportunities. Steve is the proof.

Still kind of want to cry, actually. But for the first time since I've been dealing with this visa situation, that's a good thing. :)


  1. Wow! Fabulous blog. Steve Boyd is an inspiration - maybe he can help.

  2. I was there at the auditions, I met Steve and was lucky enough to go all the way through and become a drummer had a picture with Steve got to laugh and share moments with him, and yes I feel so lucky and blessed to have been involved x