Day in the Life of an Olympic Sailing Team Leader
by Dean Brenner Team Leader US Olympic Sailing Team on 12 Aug 2008
Climb on board... I am going to walk you through a day here inside the Olympic Venue through my eyes as Team Leader.
Dean Brenner, Chairman and Team Leader US Olympic Sailing Program US Sailing Olympic Team http://olympics.ussailing.org/Olympics.htm
Wake up at first light, and grab the blackberry. With the time change from home, I typically have a full email inbox in the morning.
Answer emails for a few minutes, specifically looking for anything back home or in my work life that needs attention.
The obligatory instant message exchange with Olympic Director Katie Kelly. She and Sarah Hawkins are back in the USA supporting us from afar with tons of logisitical expertise. And a quick chat with Katie at the beginning of my day gives me great sanity.
Blog time. I write my blog each morning before I leave my room. (Like right now, for instance!)
After a quick shower (no shave... I'm working on a 'playoff beard' with Andrew Campbell), I head from the 15th floor in Tower A down to the 3rd floor dining hall. I inevitably see several members of our staff around this time, and we talk about what is going on. We discuss the upcoming day, and any changes to our support system that need to be made. Do we need more bottled water delivered to the boat park? Are we getting the ice into all the coolers for the coach boats on time? How is our physical therapy program going? Any injuries I need to know about? We also talk about the scoreboard, who races that day.
Also during breakfast time, our team meterologist Jennifer Lilly sends out her first update of the day. We see her forecast and start to talk about it. She'll be text messaging us updates througout the morning, but this first forecast is critical to our day.
I typically stay in the dining hall until about 8am. Our staff starts to head out to do their respective morning routines, but the sailors start to roll in. I will wait around, say good morning, try to check in and see who is having a good day, who needs a pat on the back, etc. I listen for things I can take off their plate and simplify their lives. If nothing else, the sailors need to know they have someone who they can come to and drop a problem on that needs solving.
Back to the room for another round of email. I typically forward our forecast to a select group back home who are really following along with the event.
Team Leader Operational Meeting. We meet with members of BOCOG to talk about any operational issues within the Olympic Village. Is there a problem with the food? With security? With transportation? This is the venue for those discussions.
I try to raise my hand early in the Operational Meeting so I can sneak our around 0900 or 0905 to sit in on Head Coach Gary Bodie's all coach meeting. The coaches meet for about 45 minutes every morning. Jennifer Lilly goes over her forecast that we have all seen. Coaches share perspectives on the forecast from the day before and the current day. Coaches share information on the five different race courses. Rules Advisor Dave Perry sits in and shares any updates on protests, changes to the Sailing Instructions, important notices posted on the official notice board.
The morning is also the time when our athletes are parading through the physical therapy room and spending time on the bench with either Scott Weiss or Mark Kenna.
Check the Official Notice Board for changes.
Team Leader Competition Meeting. All the Team Leaders, and some of the head coaches, attend the important morning TL meeting. The ISAF technical delegates, BOCOG competition officials, the chief measurer, the jury chairman, the the senior race officer all attend and share any information that we need to hear. Critical part of the day.
I take any important information gathered in the TL meeting, and immediately call any member of our coaching staff that I need to talk to.
I take the 5 minute walk down to the boat park. Any member of our team who is racing that day is down in the boat park by about 1030 or so. I check in with everyone, make sure they have what they need, take things off their plate, etc. I look for opportunities to make people smile, calm them down, give them a pat on the back. I'll check in with the coaches of a few of our athletes, and ask about psyche, etc.
I usually spend about 75 minutes down at the boat park in the morning. One of my goals is to connect with each athlete who is racing that day. And if possible, I'll see each of them off the dock, and help them with their boat dolly or trailer. A final fist pound for good luck, and they are off.
I head back up towards the 15th floor of Tower A. On the way, I check the Official Notice Board for changes.
We have a few members of our staff who are not fully credentialed. We get them into the venue on guest passes each day, and their access is limited. So they tend to set up shop on the 15th floor in the corner suite. I'll spend some time with them, check email, take care of any issues that need addressing or solve any problems I learned about at the boat park (Water? Ice? How's our core cooling program going?) This also tends to be the time when I might shut my door for 15 minutes and close my eyes. I don't get a lot of time to myself these days. None of us do. So we take every little moment we can.
After a quick lunch, we head back up to the 15th floor. The raw feed from the race courses is on the big screen tv's in each room, and from our floor we have an awesome view of Course A. With binoculars we can literally see the tell tales on the boats. So whoever is not racing that day tends to set up a chair in front of the window and we watch the racing from our box seat.
This is stress time for me. I get far more nervous watching the racing than I do when I race myself. We are able to check scores and mark rounding positions every few minutes, and we do! After all, this part of the day is really why we are here.
And if I am going to hit the gym that day, this is is the time window to do it.
Assuming the races started on time at 1pm, some classes start coming in around 3pm. At this point, I am back down at the boat park to meet each member of the team when they hit the dock. The first few minutes when they hit the dock are critical, for several reasons. After a 'welcome home' greeting, and a 'great job' if they had a good day, I hand them a cold water and then pursue three areas of information that need to be covered right away.
First, I ask if there are any protest situations that we need to deal with. If the answer is 'yes' I immediately call Dave Perry and put him on the phone with the athlete.
Second, I have already spoken to Derby Anderson our press officer and she has let me know if there is anything specific from a media perspective. If I sense the athlete is not in the mood to talk, I'll let Derby know that she needs to do some blocking with the media.
And third, if the athlete is being randomly drug tested, I call team doctor Amy Myers who escorts the athlete through the process.
I hang around, help push boats back into their spaces. I help wash the boats, I carry coolers back to the container. Whatever needs to be done.
Back to the 15th floor, after a quick check of the Official Notice Board.
Coaches debrief with Jennifer Lilly. And the athletes are all taking turns back on the bench with Scott or Mark.
Email time and decompress time with the athletes. We have wireless internet in our suite, and this areas tends to be where people hang out. It's a nice time to make each other laugh, talk about the day, talk about anything.
There is also tons of Olympic events on TV, so it is certainly on all the time in the evening. Last night we watched the USA blow out China in basketball.
Skype call home to spend a few minutes talking
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