Monday, February 15, 2010

Olympic Memories

Since I was a little girl, I have loved watching the Olympics on TV. Being a former athlete, the excitement still gives me goose bumps, and I have a deep appreciation of what it took for them to get to the Games. My favorite parts have always been the opening ceremonies when the athletes march in and the medal ceremonies when they played the National Anthem.

By luck of the draw (and much personal persistence), I was able to get a spot working at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles as a media operations representative at swimming and diving (my former sport). I must say, this is by far the best memory I have as a young adult working any type of job. Not only was it great fun hanging out for several weeks with the top athletes, coaches and media from around the globe, I made some incredible business contacts that helped me to get where I am today -- and I continue to stay in touch with them. There is something to be said for "being in the right place at the right time".
I have two very fond memories of those Olympics. We all bunked on the campus of USC -- I think I stayed at the Sigma Phi Epsilon house (minus the cute frat boys). When I was carrying my luggage to my room upon arrival, I noticed an older woman by herself who needed help with her stuff. So, I stopped to carry her suitcases. Little did I know this was my soon-to-be Olympic boss' mother. She later knocked on my door to thank me and asked if I'd be her guest at the Opening Ceremonies that night. Wow, of course I would! We didn't have just any old ordinary seats either -- which would have been great as well. Rather, we were right above the opening where the world's athletes marched out into Memorial Coliseum. We were almost close enough to touch them. It was so overwhelming I could hardly breathe. The roar of the crowd. The music. The camaraderie. The dancing. The singing. And finally, the lighting of the torch by Rafer Johnson.
The only thing that topped this is that one of the staff members I worked closely with procured me an official Olympic ring -- reserved mainly for the athletes and coaches. It's sort of like the Super Bowl ring for amateur athletes (at least back in that day Olympic athletes were still considered "amateur" status). While I am certainly not deserving of wearing this, it was a great gift and one I keep tucked away for special occasions of reminiscing. I don't think I could ever top this experience. (photo from

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