Paul Smith’s College student will rep U.S. in Russia

Adaiah Bauer, a junior at Paul Smith’s College, is traveling to Kazan, Russia, to attend a International University Sports Federation conference of student leaders in sports management from 96 countries. (Photo provided)

PAUL SMITHS — A Paul Smith’s College student is on her way to Kazan, Russia, where she will represent the United States alongside delegates from 96 other countries at an eight-day forum hosted by the International University Sports Federation.

FISU, as the group’s acronym works out in French, is the same organization that is bringing the Winter Universiade, or World University Games to Lake Placid and the North Country in 2023. The International Olympic Committee recognizes these games as the pinnacle for university athletic competition.

Thousands of American students applied to attend the second annual Volunteer Leaders Academy forum, but across the 50 states, only Paul Smith’s College junior Adaiah Bauer was selected.

This trip is not connected with Paul Smith’s ecology professor Celia Evans’ annual trip to Russia.

Bauer is a Recreation, Adventure Education and Leisure Management major from Sandy Creek who competes on the college’s cross country and snowshoe racing teams. Jim Tucker, her coach and the college’s athletic director, recommended her for selection and told her, “If you’re selected, this will change your career path for the rest of your life.”

Tucker was the one who broke the news to Bauer in March, asking her, “Do you want to go to Russia?” in a phone call, before she excitedly raced over to the gym to talk about the trip.

While she is there she will sit in on lectures and master classes from the IOC, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and the World Anti-Doping Agency, learn how to organize and manage sports events, and talk with the 100 other student delegates representing countries around the world.

“I really want to network with the other participants, to learn more about their countries, how they represent their countries,” Bauer said. “I want to absorb as much as I possibly can.”

She plans to start talking with the foreign students as soon as her plane lands for a layover in Moscow.

Tucker, who was the head referee for 2009 Special Olympic snowshoe racing in McCall, Idaho, noted how world events like the VLA forum can make the world feel both larger and smaller at the same time. He recalled seeing athletes from countries he couldn’t pronounce, much less find on a map.

“Once I could finally, truly see the scope of what I was doing … man, oh man, that’s a big deal,” Tucker said.

At the same time, he said attending this forum will open up doors of employment around the world where Bauer can put her major to use.

“For kids to really grasp that to work internationally is within their scope, sometimes you really have to give them the opportunity to see that the world isn’t really that big,” Tucker said.

FISU selected Lake Placid to host the 2023 World University Games in March, setting the 11-day, 2,400 athlete event in the village for the first time since 1972.

However, the 1980 Winter Olympic facilities and facilities at the surrounding colleges and towns hosting the event will need a lot of work before they are fit to host the World University Games. The ski jumps, for example, are not up to the current international standard height. The state has invested $62.5 million in grants to fund upgrades to the facilities. Ice rinks in places such as Plattsburgh, Potsdam and Saranac Lake could also see improvements.

Paul Smith’s College is making some upgrades of its own in athletic programs and facilities. The college will field a women’s hockey team in the fall, coached by Olympic silver medalist Andrea Kilbourne-Hill. The college plans to expand ski trails at the college’s Visitor Interpretive Center to add mountain bike trails, a biathlon shooting range and more routes in the 14,000 acres of woods and logging roads on campus, according to Tucker.

According to a press release from the college, it has also bolstered online coursework to better support traveling student-athletes and has a new sports and events management major awaiting approval.

Tucker said he believes these additions and the 2023 World University Games will attract U.S. and international students wanting to attend college in a place where they can also work toward their Olympic dreams.

Bauer plans to earn her master’s degree after graduating from Paul Smith’s College, but not before she takes a year-and-a-half off to work and hike the Appalachian Trail.