By Aaron Kinnischtzke
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – What is widely regarded as the most elite training center in the U.S., the United States Olympic Training Center, was host to the 2019 Team USA Symposium. The event was held over the course of three days, and featured speakers and panels that included employees of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and within the Olympic movement, past interns, and both former and current Olympians and Paralympians. The symposium was created in order to increase the drawing pool of future interns and employees, and increase exposure of the United States Olympic movement. The event concluded with a career and internship fair with the intent to have symposium attendees discover and apply for competitive internships within the USOC and National Governing Bodies (NGBs) within the Olympic program.
Representatives from Adams State included myself, a senior, as well as my fellow counterpart in the mass communications program, Corri Zaiger. While neither of us were housed on the training center’s campus, as we are both Colorado locals and commuted back and forth, we were able to take in the entire experience through the talks and panels, as well as the tours and events that were also put on by the symposium. I gained an entirely new appreciation for our Olympic program here in the U.S., as it is actually incredibly underfunded based on the rest of the world’s standards, but always performs among the best, if not the best nation in the world during the Olympic games.
Another area of the Olympic games that I gained an entirely new affinity for is the Paralympic movement. Two of the keynote speakers of the second and third days of the conference were an administrator for the Paralympics as well as a current Paralympic athlete in the triathlon. When you consider the fact that sports and competition may be the only true source of happiness in a Paralympic athlete’s otherwise handicapped or disabled lifestyle, that really embodies the nature of sports and competition. The Paralympics in the United States were not always as prominent as they are now. Each Olympic Games since 2000, when the Paralympics had the goal in mind to grow and become greater, the medal count has increased and in 2016, the US took home the crown of having the most medals at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio. Corri Zaiger after the talk said, “Sixteen years really isn’t that long to completely build a program from the ground up. Props to them.”
Overall, the Team USA Symposium was fantastic. I was in Heaven as two of the things I love most, sports and American patriotism, were all wrapped up into one experience. On the final day, I actually got to work out with current U.S. Olympic bobsledder Nate Webber, which had me completely star struck, but I was able to get through the training session at the world-class facility. I would highly recommend this symposium in the future for anyone looking to go into the fields of communications, marketing, event management, and athletic training, as Team USA is a world-class organization that will give you world-class treatment in the time you spend with them.