UCCS Sport Management's Hunter Johnson earns dream internship at USA Basketball

Olympic Training Center, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Kevin Zelaya Lexington Clipper-Herald
Johnson landed the internship of his dreams this summer in Colorado Springs by working at both the USA Basketball headquarters and the Olympic Training Center.

When basketball is your favorite sport and sports is a way of life, then majoring in sports management is the way to go.

This is what Hunter Johnson did at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Johnson, a 2014 Eustis-Farnam High School graduate, is majoring in sports management with a minor in pre-law.

In what can be described as a life-changing experience, Johnson landed the internship of his dreams this summer in Colorado Springs - he has worked at both the USA Basketball headquarters and the Olympic Training Center.

UCCS College of Business student, Hunter Johnson

The UCCS sophomore has not only made himself indispensable at the basketball headquarters and grown as a person - he has gained insight into the top level of the basketball world as lived by collegiate and professional athletes, Nike representatives and NBA and college basketball scouts.

"Basketball has always been my favorite sport, so working with USA Basketball is totally what I wanted to do. I've met a lot of high caliber coaches, including Mike Brown (former coach of Lebron James and Kobe Bryant), NBA scouts, and some of the best basketball players in the nation. I've also met Nike representatives," Johnson said.

Not surprisingly, living the sports world lifestyle has already impacted Johnson, who said he "wants to work for Nike some day."

Earlier this summer Johnson started his internship serving as a support staff member who assisted camp staff, did laundry, and prepared for practice.

"I was always the first one at the training center to set up for practice," he said.

As the summer has progressed, Johnson's role at USA Basketball has grown.

"I forced myself to be more helpful and I developed more confidence. I have worked with both men's and women's camps and got all the gear ready for training camps. I made sure all the equipment was ready to fly overseas for tournaments. They let me drive rental cars to return coaches and players to the airport; I was even trusted to be in the equipment room alone. I was assigned one of the head positions at the most recent camp. It feels like a real-world job now," he said.

Johnson said he would like to work at the USA Basketball headquarters and the Olympic Training Center every year of college that remains before he graduates.

Although he won't work at the headquarters/training center much this fall when school starts, Johnson said he would be available to help for anything that comes up.

Memorable moments have been in ample supply for Johnson this summer. He has seen Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps walk by and he's competed in 3- point shootouts with the top high school players in the nation.

Also, when some Nike representatives visited the Olympic Training Center for a basketball camp, they forced an athlete wearing Under Armour apparel and shoes to remove them and gave him Nike clothing and shoes to wear! Why? Because as Johnson said, Nike is the official, exclusive sports apparel sponsor for USA Basketball, meaning only Nike shoes and apparel are allowed at the facilities.

Although his internship is unpaid, Johnson has his eye set on a paid position for next summer. As part of his job, Johnson eats free meals at the Olympic Training Center and also receives a full-lineup of Nike clothing - hats, shoes, shorts, socks, t-shirts, polos and pants featuring USA Basketball logos and red, white and blue colors. Another memorable moment came recently when Johnson assigned the jersey numbers of USA Basketball players such as Lebron James and Kevin Durant for an upcoming exhibition game in Las Vegas.

Getting ready to enter his second year of college, Johnson's work experience this summer has impacted him so much he can now see a path to a dream career in front of him.

"This is a good start to my career. I want to go to law school. I've heard of law students that assist collective bargaining lawyers who help NBA teams with salary cap issues and figure out ways to trade for players. I hope to do that during law school," he said.

"My final dream career goal is to be a lawyer for Nike."