Prospective sport management professionals from The University of Alabama had an opportunity to interact with the nation’s sport managers during a graduate-level, interim travel course at the United States Olympic Committee headquarters. Thanks to these students – Aminda Jakob, Collett Cogliano and Valyncia Johnson — for documenting their learning adventures.
Day Four - Aminda Jakob
Day Four was absolutely the most incredible day.
We started off by heading to USOC headquarters--which, before this trip, I did not realize was different from the USOTC. We met with Sarah Daum, who runs the Team USA fund, and discussed our project (which I think is going well!). Then, we had four educational sessions in a row--but they were all really exciting.
First, we heard from Games Operations. I worked in operations with a hockey team for a few seasons, and that was a lot of work--I can't imagine being in charge of an entire Olympics! She went through the numbers for the upcoming Games (including the Pan American and Para Pan American Games), and there are so many sports and Olympians and staff members for each one. When you're watching the Olympics, you really don't think about the fact that someone had to figure out how to get several hundred US athletes living in a foreign country for two weeks.
Next, we heard from LA 2028. It's already exciting that the US gets to host a Games, but Rachel Isaacs went above and beyond in her presentation, showing us all of the details of the games, including all of the venues. The Games are nine years away, which in some ways is far and in some ways is very close. She had me very excited about the 2028 Games, and we haven't even made it to the 2020 Games yet!
We also heard from US Paralympics. I am admittedly not as well-informed about the Paralympics, so I learned so much about how they are structured and how the US Paralympic Committee (we are one of the few countries whose National Olympic Committee is also its National Paralympic Committee) governs it all.
Lastly, we heard from the Athlete Ombudsman, who are responsible for handling athlete issues and disputes and giving advice. I had no idea that such a program existed--and, apparently, a lot of athletes don't either.
After lunch, we returned to headquarters, and we were split into two groups. My group went to USA Basketball first. Their offices were new, and they were super cool. We heard about how they function, as one of the smaller but highest-profile NGBs, and had the opportunity to ask questions. Like with USA Triathlon, I liked having the chance to hear from a specific NGB--especially one that I already knew and loved well.
Following USA Basketball, we went up to the US Olympic Archives. As we walked through, we saw a lot of really great memorabilia, and heard about how it is collected (it is all donated, either from athletes or from private collectors). I thought that the stuff we were seeing was cool--shoes from track stars like Allyson Felix, a ticket to a 1980 hockey game, a signed Jennie Finch softball, photos from early Games--but then she took us to a room back in the corner, and I walked in and just breathed, "oh my god."
The walls were lined with Olympic torches, and the room was filled with drawers opened to reveal medals from every Games, from 1896 to 2018. I was in absolute awe. There are no words to describe the experience, other than to say that this is the coolest place I have ever been, full stop, no topping that ever.
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