Nathan Kubala stands in front of a large blue background that reads "U.S. Olympic Team Trials."
BGSU senior Nathan Kubala experienced an internship with USA Boxing during which he photographed the Olympic Team Trials on-site in Lafayette, Louisiana. (Nathan Kubala photo)

BGSU senior documents the making of Team USA through internship

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Nathan Kubala spent a week in Louisiana photographing USA Boxing’s U.S. Team Olympic Trials

By: Nick Piotrowicz

At the beginning of 2023, Bowling Green State University senior Nathan Kubala honestly evaluated himself as a sports industry content creator and saw a skill he could develop while he was still in college.

Kubala, a native of Akron who is studying sport management, created sports-related graphic design for years, but believed learning photography would make him more well-rounded as he prepares to enter the sport industry.

His plan for tangible growth paid off in a big way: He concluded 2023 by photographing one of the bigger amateur sporting events on the calendar, documenting the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Lafayette, Louisiana, through an internship with USA Boxing.

Ahead of next summer’s Paris Olympics, Kubala was on site for the week-long event to capture the makings of Team USA Boxing. 

“I had been doing graphic design for about five or six years, but one of the things I realized I lacked was the ability to do photography,” Kubala said. “I made it a goal of mine to gradually become more comfortable with a camera. I started the year with that goal, and ended the year doing an event where I did strictly photography.”

A boxer raises his arms in celebration
During his internship, Nathan Kubala was on hand to document the making of Team USA Boxing for next summer's Paris Olympics. (Nathan Kubala photo)

Caitlin Shortridge ’17 ’20, a coordinator of recruitment and outreach in the BGSU Office of Admissions and an adjunct sport management professor, said Kubala is the type of student who has shown consistent growth by taking advantage of the opportunities BGSU has to offer.

Last year, as a member of the Sport Management Alliance, Kubala was one of 20 BGSU students who earned the chance to go behind the scenes at Super Bowl LVII, even designing the shirt the group wore during the trip to Arizona. 

In addition to his studies, Kubala did graphic design work both on his own and during internships for TopGolf and several NCAA Division I universities, including BGSU and Georgetown, regularly growing his skillset by taking on new challenges. 

“When we suggest things for students to partake in, opportunities to volunteer and positions to take, he has really listened and taken our advice to heart and applied it throughout his entire time at the University,” Shortridge said. “I think that’s paid out for him already at a young age. He’s a person who shows up, does the job well and is impressive to be in a room with.”

Through his classes at BGSU, Kubala said he learned about the wide range of ways into the sport industry and the value of making connections while still in college. Though he had some graphic design experience before BGSU, he has used his time at the University to explore how and where he can fit into a sports organization.

“My route was somewhat unique because I knew I wanted to do sport management, but I already had been doing creative content before I got to college, which is a growing piece of the industry,” Kubala said. “I had explored this part on my own, so I was doing something in sports, but I knew there was a next step. Caitlin Shortridge was huge for me in showing my class what opportunities were out there.”

Earlier in 2023, Kubala learned about an opportunity to photograph a USA Boxing event in nearby Toledo through his contacts at BGSU, a chance that bloomed into being asked to cover the Olympic Trials that were televised on Peacock a subsidiary of NBCUniversal.

Two boxers engage during a bout at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
The U.S. Olympic Team Trials featured a week's worth of bouts that determined who would represent the U.S. at the 2024 Paris Olympics. (Nathan Kubala photo)

Knowing that each bout could be a boxer’s last, Kubala set a goal of capturing four or five photos of each participant during the visit to Louisiana – a challenging but rewarding experience of documenting a major athletic event in real time. 

“That experience definitely gave me some confidence because it was such a big event, and there were only two of us trying to cover so much ground, which we did,” Kubala said. “We worked long hours and did so much content – I left with 1,500 pictures – that gave me the experience of dealing with a real situation of managing space, and I really connected with a lot of people when I was there.”

In such a competitive field, Shortridge said building upon college-level experiences can be invaluable, of which Kubala is a classic example. 

“Starting out small – in his case, maybe doing one graphic or covering one event – can lead to bigger things like producing an entire week of content for the Olympic Trials,” Shortridge said. “As a faculty member, I try to push students to challenge themselves, so seeing him take on this challenge, learn from it and grow from it was a full-circle moment to see him shining on that stage. And, who knows, his next step may be Paris 2024.”

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Media Contact | Michael Bratton | | 419-372-6349

Updated: 12/22/2023 09:54AM