The journey of each Olympic hopeful hardly ever follows a straight path. It is one of sacrifice, hours of blood and sweat far away from bright lights and shiny medals. If you have the dream and the tools to back it up, there is a road that can lead you there. Increasingly this road may make a stop at one of the USOC’s three Olympic training centers. The Sports MBA class of 2014 visited the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center this past Monday.
We heard from the Executive director Tracy Lamb. He outlined his path to his current position from competing in the Biathlon in the Lake Placid Games to coaching to being an administrator. He also painted a picture of where the training center has come from and where it is going. He is a wealth of knowledge of all things Olympics and he leads a great venue just a few miles south of our SDSU campus. He was also a judge at the 2012 International SMBA Case Competition.
We were then given a private tour of the facility from a guide who lives on site witnessing and experiencing much of the life that the athletes encounter. This encompasses access to world-class facilities and top of the line sports and fitness equipment; a training room with highly qualified athletic trainers, physical therapists, chiropractors, doctors, nutritionists and sports psychologists; and a cafeteria serving organic food for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as dormitories that are cleaned by a maid service. The campus also features a gym to lift in, fields and courts to play on, a track to run around, a BMX course to fly through and a reservoir to paddle around. The Olympic Training Center has what it takes for allow its athletes to be the best in the world at the sports it supports without a cent of taxpayer money as it funded through corporate sponsorships and donations to boot.
I was particularly excited for our visit to the training center not for a day in the life of an Olympic hopeful, but to show my classmates my old home. I lived intermittently at the Olympic Training Center from 2009-2012 while I attempted to make my Olympic dreams a reality by running long distance on the track. I did not earn a trip to London but the experience was invaluable nonetheless. Like anyone’s trip to an old home, mine was full of memories, of the weird tree in the courtyard in front of the athletes’ lobby and of the many workouts good and bad around the red oval down the hill. I was also quick to notice the changes, such as the finished condos next door and the new archery facility being built. Part of me longed to go back but another part of me remembers the isolation of the facility on the edge of the suburbs with everything one could want, other than some variety. This boredom could be cured with a 20-minute drive north though, making a life at the Olympic Training Center idyllic for a young dreamer.
Whether my future goals of more quick running and a lifetime in the sports industry see me returning to the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center or not, I’m certainly glad it is there incubating our future medal winners and pushing Olympic sports forward.