On Tuesday, March 28, SMBA’18 students had the opportunity to get a tour of the newly named, Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center and hear from Dave Stow, VP of Venue Operations, as well as from Lex Gillette, a track and field Paralympic athlete who trains at the center.
Dave touched briefly on the history of the center before its most recent transition stage. The facility originally opened in 1995 as a U.S. Olympic Training Center, a gift to the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) from the San Diego National Sports Training Foundation. Within the past six Olympic and Paralympic games, more than 60 medals were won by athletes from the Chula Vista facility.
The tour of the 155 acre Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center began at the front of the facility with a view of both the BMX developmental track and soccer field.The facility is currently home to eight Olympic sports, such as archery, canoe/kayak, cycling, field hockey, rowing, BMX, and track and field, with the hopes of adding additional sports such as skateboarding and surfing. Furthermore, the facility currently has six natural turf fields used by Rugby, Soccer, and Field Hockey. In addition, the facility also has six sand volleyball courts, three BMX tracks, an archery range, a 5400-square foot weight room, and room and board capabilities for up to 300 athletes. Being open to the public, the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center allows people to interact closely with professional athletes that most sports would not offer.
One of the more notable portions of the tour touched on the operations of the center, now that the USOC has divested itself of ownership. In 2017, ownership of the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center was transferred to the City of Chula Vista, with the Point Loma Trust taking over the day-to-day operations. Despite the change of ownership, Dave spoke specifically to the training center’s focus on maintaining its status as an internationally renowned Olympic-level training facility. After touring the complex, we believe this is certainly the case, as the EATC sees to the athletes’ every need, leaving the athletes and coaches to focus solely on their training.
During the visit, the SMBA’18 students also had the chance to meet with track and field Paralympic athlete, Lex Gillette. Lex has competed in and won medals at the 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016’s Summer Paralympic games in the men’s long jump events, amongst other accomplishments.
One point that Lex touched on during his presentation was that he’d love to take advantage of more public-speaking opportunities, especially as he transitions from being a high-performance athlete into the normal working class. Having said that, Lex took part in the latest round of Ted Talks to hit San Diego on October 22, 2016. At the end of the talk, he burst into song, performing ‘Blackbird’ by Paul McCartney. Everyone in the crowd, including those watching on YouTube, was floored by the performance – so much so that he received a standing ovation when it was all said and done. His purpose to his speech was to emphasize on the difference between having sight and having a vision. Once he knew his vision and goals in life, he said that everything else came easy. When asked whether competing in the Paralympic was tougher than singing on stage in front of thousands of people, Lex didn’t quite know how to answer. However, he did mention that the emotions he felt before the Ted Talk were very like the ones he feels prior to big competitions.
The tour was an amazing experience, as the students saw first-hand the day-to-day routine of some of the professional athletes who reside and train at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center. The tour and wonderful presentations by Dave and Lex were both valuable experiences for the SMBA’18 students, especially those interested in working for the Olympics.