Our last few blogs have been centered around one of the most important aspects of TrackTown12 and that is the Athlete Experience. Go back and read The Athlete Experience hits the Road or ‘Preparing for the Best’ Spotlight with Bridget Franek. The majority of our planning and efforts have been going to this, with the hopes that each athlete will have an amazing experience. It comes down to a collaborative effort between the Local Organizing Committee, USATF and the USOC; but today’s spotlight is on one former athlete who is making sure the current athletes will be taken care of at TrackTown12: Sasha Spencer Atwood.
Sasha joined TrackTown USA in October and currently serves as the Project Manager of Marketing & Athlete Services. She returned to Oregon, where she grew up and attended North Salem High, after getting married in May of 2011. Prior to move back to the Northwest, Sasha worked in show business, on the sets of hit movies like The Blind Side and Joyful Noise. Most importantly for the athletes, she spent much of her life in their same shoes. Sasha competed at Georgetown from 1997-2001 and followed that up with an eight-year professional career in the 800 meters, while running for Nike. On February 27th, Sasha and her husband, Luke, welcomed their daughter, Eden, into the world. We caught up with her just a week after Eden’s birth.
How has your time as an athlete influenced your role with athlete services?
Sasha: There are so many details that go into hosting an event like the Trials. At times the logistics of it all can get overwhelming, but when I find myself getting caught up in them I try to step back into my memories of competing at the previous three Olympic Trials. I picture myself and fellow athletes walking into the scenario and key in on the points that were most important to us. I try to use this experience to inform the decisions I make, as well as to give first-hand input on plans being made by other committees.
Other than taking care of little Eden, what is the most important task you are working on?
Sasha: One thing I am finding to be true is that very few of the tasks we are working on are unimportant. Some things may take longer or be more complicated to complete, but because athletes are all so different, you never know what can make or break their experience. We are working really hard to attend to the details so that the athlete experience is seamless and stress-free, even in the little things. The biggest piece on my plate right now at TrackTown12 is finalizing the athlete transportation plans. Getting where they need to go when they need to be there is a huge part of an athlete being able to feel relaxed and prepared to do their best.
At home I am working on figuring how to sleep in only a semi-reclined position with a newborn on my chest. I just can’t bear to put her in the bassinet!
What is the experience you would like the athletes to have when they arrive in TrackTown USA for the Olympic Trials?
Sasha: I want athletes to be able to take for granted that everything is going to run smoothly. As an LOC, I want us to have anticipated the needs and concerns of the athletes and have plans in place to address them before the first competitor touches down. I want them to feel welcome and know how excited we are to have them here in Eugene again. They don’t call this Track Town USA for nothing! I hope that all of our enthusiasm translates into the preparations we make for them and the energy they feel coming from the crowd.