The recently concluded BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells has grown into one of the biggest events here in the valley; people flock from all over the planet to watch the greatest tennis players in the world ply their trade.
Along with the players and fans, members of the media also come from various places around the world—and one tournament volunteer has the job of making sure they all get what they need.
Judy Strobl of Oceanside is in charge of the press room of the BNP Paribas Open. She has been a volunteer for the tournament for 13 years. It’s no secret that any large event here in the valley is dependent on volunteers—and the BNP Paribas Open is no exception.
“We have over 1,500 volunteers who handle everything from the media, to ushering duties,” Strobl said. “It’s impossible to understate the impact these volunteers have. Without them, there is no tournament.”
Strobl is very diplomatic when asked what it’s like to deal with members of the media. When asked if they can be difficult, she replied: “They want what they want, when they want. I try to take into consideration that many of them are jet-lagged and are used to working on deadlines. We work very hard with the PR staff to try to be as accommodating as possible.”
Of course, there’s always a chance that problems will come up—such as what happened last year when a French TV crew arrived.
“They airline had misplaced their luggage,” Strobl said. “They literally only had the clothes on their backs. We set up appointments with local thrift stores so they could be properly attired. It was a mad scramble, but eventually, they were able get clothes and get it done. I don’t know how, but we got it done.”
As the tournament grows, so, too, does the workload in the media room. “We have already over 400 media members here,” Strobl said. “It will require more and more finesse, but we are ready.”
As part of the multi-million-dollar improvements made to Stadium 1, the press room just received major improvements. Everything is now state of the art, with TV screens and digital hookups throughout the press area.
“Even though the modes and methods of communication and media are changing, the media always needs to see a friendly face—and that one hopefully will continue to be mine,” Strobl said.
Steve Kelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @skellynj.