By Jordan Boitnott
Chelsea Powell, a 2010 Youngstown State University graduate and former Jambar editor-in-chief, had a unique experience this NBA season. Powell was able to spend the season inside the NBA bubble.
Powell is a game presentation director for the Washington Wizards. A game presentation director is part of a group making games feel like a home game for the players. The presentation team plays graphics, sounds and music on the court in the Orlando bubble in an attempt to make the game feel as natural as possible and like they have a home court advantage. In the interview, Powell talked about her unique experience in the bubble.
Q: What was life like in the bubble?
A: Life in the bubble was strange at first, but I was surprised how quickly I adapted to the environment. I was kept on a pretty regimented schedule — I was working one or two games a day — and the routine really helped. I love the job and love the sport, so I immersed myself into the reason I was there: work to put on the best show for the NBA and the fans watching at home. The long hours, days and months were really rewarding. The NBA put a great group of people together to work in Orlando, and we became like a family pretty quickly. There was a small group of us who stayed the entire time — from July to October — and I consider that group of people now lifelong friends.
Q: What precautions were taken for COVID-19 inside? How did they affect your ability to do your job?
A: We did daily testing for the entirety of the stay. We also did daily symptoms checks, wore masks at all times and remained socially distant from others. I wouldn’t say this had any affect on how I did my job — if anything, it made me feel very safe when working the games or being around others.
Q: Were you able to interact with any of the players or were they kept separate.
A: The NBA staff group stayed at the Coronado Springs — the same resort where several teams were also staying, like the Lakers and the Bucks, so I would see players all the time when I’d go to get food or see them riding bikes or walking around. I, of course, gave them their space to enjoy their free time off the court, but would say “hello” in passing — especially when passing anyone on the rental bikes … that’s just good manners.
Q: Did you stay for the whole time or leave after the Wizards were eliminated?
A: I helped produce games for the entirety of the bubble. The NBA created a game presentation group that focused on all teams, not just the teams we all individually worked for. I produced games and directed content for all 22 teams in the bubble, not just the Wizards games — though I did get to work a few Wizards games in Orlando which was really nice — felt like home! In the finals, I worked the home games for the Miami Heat, including the championship game, which was such a cool experience.
Q: Is being in the bubble something you’d be willing to do again?
A: I definitely would do it again. The experience was great, and the product that was created for the fans and players was incredible to be a part of.