Meghan Lockett's complete blog from the Youth Leadership Camp at the Olympic Trials
Monday, July 9th
Hi! Originally, I had planned to blog each day from the Trials, but what I didn’t know was that my days would be jammed packed from 5am to 11pm. Since, there were so many highlights from my four-day experience at the Olympic Trials Youth Leadership Camp, I have decided to do a recap of my most memorable ones. This was definitely an experience I will never forget!
• My dorm room surprise ~ After checking into the Leadership Camp, the first thing I did was lug all of my stuff into my dorm (we stayed in the University of Oregon dorms while at camp). I was greeted by an awesome surprise when I saw my bed covered in Nike Olympic Trials gear! From shoes, to rain jackets, to yoga pants, and water bottles, Nike definitely decked us out in the best uniform! It was a great way to start off the camp. We had a strict uniform to wear each day while volunteering at the Trials. All of the camp participants had to match by wearing the new Nike shoes & socks, a bright yellow Trials hat, a Green Trials T-shirt, and khaki shorts. There were no cameras, bags, or cell phones allowed while volunteering during the Trials, so sorry for the lack of pictures. I wish I could’ve taken more, but I obviously wanted to respect the athletes. Understandably, we were not allowed to interact with the athletes unless they approached us first.
• Getting my credentials ~ One of the most exciting parts of the first day was getting my Olympic Trials credentials. I felt so professional carrying around my credential card with my name and picture printed on it! It was definitely the best souvenir ever!
• Hayward Field ~ The moment I stepped onto the Hayward track, I instantly felt the magic! Now, I finally understand why runners say there really is nothing like it! The crowd was amazing because of their energy and enthusiasm. It was awesome to be surrounded by people who love and appreciate Track & Field. Hayward is so beautifully maintained, and it would be so cool to one day run on that track myself!
• Watching the Women’s 5000m ~ There’s no doubt that I, and the rest of the Leadership Camp participants, had some of the best seats in the house! I was really looking forward to the Women’s 5000m finals, and I couldn’t believe when I got to actually sit in the 8th lane of the track to watch the race! It was incredible to see the expressions on the runners’ faces and to hear their feet touch the track. The race was very competitive and emotional. I was amazed to watch the courage of both Julia Lucas and Lauren Fleshman. Julia made a bold kick and pushed it all the way until the very end, only missing an Olympic spot by .04 of a second. It was so inspiring for me to watch one of my heroes, Lauren Fleshman, push through her nagging IT band injury and never give up during the race. It was such a great learning experience for a young runner like me to observe the guts, determination, and toughness of these amazing women runners.
• Carrying Bernard Lagat’s basket ~ As part of the Meet Operations Team, one of our jobs was to carry baskets for the athletes’ clothing to and from the starting line before the races. You may have even seen some of the basket crew participants on TV! I was lucky enough to be a member of the basket crew for the men’s 5000m race finals, which was shaping up to be one of the most competitive races of the Trials. One of my personal favorites, Bernard Lagat, was also one of the race favorites. So, you can imagine how excited I was to be assigned to carry Bernard’s basket back to the recovery tent. It was amazing to be less than a foot away from one of my running idols! Coincidentally, I met Bernard a couple months back when I was vacationing in Flagstaff, AZ, a place where many elite runners like to train. He was by far one of the nicest, most positive, and inspiring people I have ever met. I was so thrilled to see him cross the line in a very close 2nd place at the Trials! It was also amazing to watch Galen Rupp make history by breaking Steve Prefontaine’s Olympic Trials 5000m time! I was situated right by the finish line, and the look of excitement on his face was indescribable!
• Seeing Jordan Hasay ~ I was also part of the basket crew for the 1500m women’s semi-finals, which University of Oregon runner Jordan Hasay raced in. This is memorable for me because she is the first runner I looked up to when I started running back in seventh grade. I love her energy, dedication, and, most importantly, her positive outlook. I had to keep pinching myself when she stood right in front of me getting ready to fly off the line!
• Watching the 1500m finals on the Bowerman Curve ~ There is a famous spot on the Hayward track called the “Bowerman Curve”, which is named after the famous University of Oregon Coach, Bill Bowerman. It’s located right outside of the Bowerman building, and is the final curve on the track before the finish line. It’s one of the most ideal spots to watch a race because you get to see the runners’ true grit and competiveness during their final push into the finish line. I was fortunate enough to watch my favorite race, the 1500m, right behind the fence on the Bowerman Curve. I cheered so loudly during the races that my voice was scratchy afterword. It was so awesome being a part of the Hayward energy! Being at the Bowerman Curve also meant that the athletes came right by us during their victory lap! I couldn’t contain my joy when Jenny Simpson, Shannon Rowbury, Morgan Uceny, Andrew Wheating, and Matt Centrowitz passed by and gave me a high-five!
• Putting the hurdles up & down for the 400m finals ~ Another job I tried as part of the Meet Operations Team was being part of the hurdle crew. I was responsible for helping position the hurdles for both the men’s & women’s 400m finals. It was such a fun job! We wheeled out the hurdles, set them in the right place, and then adjusted them to the right height. The best part was that I was right on the track to watch the race. I could literally feel the wind from the hurdlers as they flew by!
• Meeting Kellie Wells ~ Not only did we have the awesome Trials experience, but we also heard from some very inspiring speakers throughout the camp. Each of them had amazing accomplishments, from Olympians to Nike Executives to winning Coaches; they all left me feeling very motivated and ready to chase my dreams! I was especially moved by a talk from Kellie Wells, who just days before had qualified for the 2012 Olympics in the 100m hurdles. I had recently read her inspiring story in the Runner’s World Magazine, and I had been rooting for her to make the team. She spoke eloquently about all the challenges she had to overcome in her life in order to get to the point where she is today. She embodies true determination and strength, both mental and physical. It was actually very emotional, and I was not the only one with a few of tears in my eyes. She was so gracious to answer all of our questions and pose for pictures with us afterwards. Like many of these Track & Field athletes, she is an incredible role model.
• Eating a huge gluten, dairy, and sugar free ice cream sandwich at the festival ~ Surrounding the Hayward Stadium was a huge festival full of activities, vendors, and food tents. They did a stellar job organizing the whole event, which made the Trials that much more fun for the spectators. My favorite part of the festival was the Coconut Bliss tent. Coconut Bliss is an dairy, gluten, sugar, and soy free ice cream company based in Eugene. Since I’m dairy intolerant, I was thrilled to find a treat I could enjoy! I really appreciated their organic ingredients like flaxseed, millet, agave syrup, coconut milk, and coconut oil! After some debate with myself, I ordered their cookie ice cream sandwich. It was probably the size of my face, but it tasted heavenly and hit the spot on a hot day!
These were my most memorable moments, but I know the other participants had equally as many and different ones. As a high school runner, I know how fortunate I was to be a part of such a special event that only comes around every 4 years! I would like to take this opportunity to thank the camp directors, Kim McManus, Kevin Leonard, and Jake Neely plus all the counselors, for organizing such a great leadership program for high schoolers. I would also like to thank the University of Oregon, the Olympic Trials Committee, and Nike for putting on such an incredible event! Lastly, thank you to MileSplit for providing an outlet for high school runners like me to post amazing experiences like this one. If you are reading this, then I know you share my passion for running. Olympians or not, I think we would all agree that the USA has amazing and inspiring Track & Field athletes.
Go USA!!!!!! I can’t wait to watch the London Olympics!
Tuesday, June 26th
Hi! My name is Meghan and I’m a rising sophomore distance runner from Maryland. Over the next several days, I’m going to be in Eugene, Oregon during the U.S. Track & Field Olympic Trials for their Youth Leadership Camp. I’m so excited to have the opportunity to share my experiences with MileSplit readers!
The Olympics is truly the greatest sporting event on earth. To represent your country and be known as one of the best athletes in the world is not only amazing, but a true honor. I, like many other high school runners, have dreamed of one day crossing the finish line at the trials and becoming an Olympian. Who knows what my running future will hold, but there’s no denying that everything about the Olympics is inspiring and exhilarating! That’s why I jumped at the opportunity when I learned about the 2012 Olympic Trials Youth Leadership Camp. I was totally sold when I read this program description on the website:
“As part of the USA Track and Field Olympic Trials, high school students who are entering grades 10-12 are invited to participate in a 4 day leadership experience. Participants will not only be a part of the Meet Operations team, but will hear guest speakers share their personal experiences developing leadership skills. And, you will have the best seat in the house to see some of the world’s best track and field athletes!”
• Four days of the most exciting Track and Field events.
• A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the making of the BEST: TEAM: EVER!
• Your chance to be in the middle of it all with 49 of your soon-to-be friends.
However, since only 100 high schoolers are accepted, I had to submit an application with essays & recommendations before I could start dreaming of my trials experience. I anxiously waited for the email that would tell my application status. I was definitely overjoyed and stoked to find out that I was officially a member of the 2012 Leadership Camp & 2012 Olympic Trials meet operations team!
The camp is split into two sections, 50 high schoolers the first half and the remaining 50 the second half. While I would’ve been happy with either section, there’s no doubt that I was super psyched to be assigned to the second half. This means I get to see the finals for the 5000m, 1500m, steeplechase, 200m, 110m hurdles, and 400m hurdles (plus many of the jump events). It’s going to be a jam-packed 4 days! Now that the trials have started, I have watched every second of them on TV, researched all the athletes, and watched all the interviews. It’s safe to say that I’m a little obsessed with the Trials. I can’t wait to see Eugene, the legendary Hayward Field, and witness our country’s best track and field athletes compete! I’ve been counting down for this time to come ever since the moment I received the acceptance email. How awesome that the city of Eugene and the University of Oregon make this once in a lifetime experience possible for 100 high schoolers!
My plane leaves for Portland Wednesday at 7:00 a.m., which means I’ll be out of the house at 5:00! I’ll probably be too excited to sleep anyways! Off to the races (literally!)!
Here I come TrackTown USA!