The Sochi 2014 Winter Games are nearly upon us. Athletes from across the globe will flock to the southwest tip of Russia to represent their countries and compete for medals and the cheers of their fellow countrymen. From skiing and hockey to the luge and half pipe, the Olympians of America prepare year-round for their moments of glory on the snow and ice of Sochi. The men and women representing Team USA are America’s darlings but hundreds of others quietly support them in their quest for victory. The trainers that work tirelessly behind the scenes, the doctors that perform emergency surgery after a nasty practice fall and the sales and marketing staff that bring in dollars to support the team and shed light on the brilliance of it all.
To navigate Team USA employment, first understand the walls that support it. The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) oversees U.S teams participating in the Olympic Games. Unlike most nations, the USOC – a nonprofit corporation – is not federally funded. Its revenue is generated by exclusive rights to Olympic-related images and marks; its licensing deals keep it in business. Then there are the National Governing Bodies (NGB), 47 of them to be precise. Each NGB looks after all aspects of its designated Olympic sport. An NGB nominates its athletes for competition, trains them and creates an environment that is both ethical and worthy of success. The USOC works in concert with its various governing bodies to present a united Team USA to the world much like the league offices of Major League Baseball, the NFL and the NBA umbrella the professional teams that huddle beneath them.
The United States Olympic Committee has an impressive, flagship training center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A home base for research and education along with world-class training facilities lies in the city of nearly 500,000. Its size and vast accommodations allows it to house over 500 coaches and athletes simultaneously, creating the atmosphere of a small Olympic village. Chefs are needed to provide nutritious meals to training center dwellers. Facility managers and support staff are hired to maintain the 11 indoor gymnasiums, indoor and outdoor shooting facilities, aquatic center and more. A state-of-the-art sports medicine and sports science center are also major components of the USOC’s Colorado Springs headquarters generating opportunities for doctors, scientists and sports researchers to contribute to America’s athletic successes. The USOC runs its business out of its Colorado facility as well, requiring a strong business support staff. Its presence in the Rocky Mountains is strong but the US Olympic Committee also has footing on both coasts as well as the state of Michigan. With premier training facilities in the San Diego, California burb of Chula Vista and upstate New York’s Lake Placid, the USOC has employment needs across the country. Even teachers are desired; the Olympic Education Center of northern Michigan allows athletes to continue their education as they prepare for the Olympics. The committee is a steward of Team USA for the millions of Americans that cheer on its athletes in world competition. It’s also a way to bring the nearly 50 National Governing Bodies together and present one team to the world.
The National Governing Bodies (NGB) are each distinct caretakers for the sports America enters into the summer and winter Olympic Games. These 47 organizations – 31 summer, 8 winter, 8 Pan American – handle the crux of organizing a herd of athletes into a singular team. Each NGB nominates athletes to attend the Olympics or Pan American games and then trains them for competition. While the USOC itself offers a variety of positions for sports professionals, the NGBs are an even greater wealth of opportunity, with facilities smattered across the country. From Colorado Springs, Lake Placid and Oklahoma City to Indianapolis, Chicago and Utah, each National Governing Body has a home and proper facilities to prepare its athletes. Athletic trainers, therapists, communications professionals and chefs who support US athletics dot the country’s map. Coaches that run U.S. Soccer, public relations managers that handle USA Basketball interview requests and rink managers for U.S. Figure Skating all have their place. The National Governing Bodies have much autonomy and, while they sit in the shadows of the United States Olympic Committee, each is a critical building block that forms the foundation of Team USA. A team that represents the citizens of America in both the warmth of summer and icy chill of winter. A team that needs people like you in ways you’ve yet to fathom and won’t truly grasp until you’re in the midst of spurring on Olympic greatness.