Northern Illinois Head Track and Field/Cross Country Coach Connie Teaberry is attending the first reunion of U.S. Olympians this weekend in San Jose, Calif. Teaberry competed for the United States at the 1996 games in Atlanta, Ga., where she placed 15th in the high jump. Connie will post updates throughout the weekend sharing her experience.
July 27, 2008
Yesterday turned out to be all that I thought it would. AMAZING! We started the day with a breakfast buffet for Olympians and guests at the San Jose Hilton Hotel with early morning socializing included.
From there we went on the second floor of the hotel to give interviews and sign several Olympic Torch Plates. Networking and socializing opportunities presenting themselves again. I noticed Olympians I had not seen the day before were present. At this time I met John Naber, an American swimmer who won four gold medals and a silver in 1976 Olympics in Montreal, who is a motivational speaker and the former President of the USOC (United States Olympic Committee).
We departed the Hotel around 10 AM and headed to San Jose State. Here we were briefed on the 2008 Olympians road to processing before heading to Beijing China. San Jose State is the official site for over 85% of the new Olympians for processing, getting there new apparel and the many gifts. Ralph Lauren, Nike, and Coca Cola are the official sponsors. Each athlete at the most will only spend twenty-four hours or less at processing in San Jose before flying out to Beijing. They have set up the dorms for their lodging and cafeteria for their meals. There is also a room set up for the internet and video games.
We walked through the rooms where they receive their gifts and uniforms. It was full of hats, shorts, T-shirts, shoes, Large USA travel bags, small travel bags, etc. The Official Opening Ceremony Outfit, which has not been revealed to the world was on display for us to see. Take my word, these Olympians will look great! We were also advised that there were some things that were not in the room that the 2008 Olympians will receive, leather jacket, rings and more!
From there we walked out through the campus to see the commemorative statue that San Jose State has displayed of Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who in the 1968 Olympics showed the Black Power salute on the award stand. There was such controversary around this in the 1968 games. The statue was unbelievable! It actually was over twice my height with the runners on the award stand fist in air, Olympic rings on the statue stand. WOW!
We returned back to the hotel to prepare to walk to our Texas Style Barbeque at the Guadalupe River Park Discovery Meadow. The Olympic committee really went all out. We were greeted by Chinese performers, and music. The food was great, once again!
At the picnic an organization called "Right to Play" was present to demonstrate how they are persevering athletics, linked with life lessons, in other parts of the world. Please go to www.righttoplay.com and view the wonderful works of this group. We were allowed to participate in several of their games and briefed at the conclusion of each game how they allow these under privilege kids to enjoy, and have fun, all the while educating!
Our evening reception honored the 40th anniversary of the 1968 Olympic Team! As I entered the lobby it was full of Olympians with their guests. I began to notice a couple that I had not seen the prior two days. I proceeded to introduce myself and to my surprise it was Tommie Smith one of the 1968 Olympians with whom's statue I had just taken a picture with earlier! I proceeded to continue my greetings, and hugs and recognized another Olympian Willie Hines, world record holder in the 100M, running 9.95, and a gold medalist. He's a great dancer even now!!! I also saw John Thomas, 1960 and '64 Olympian, first to clear 7 feet in the men's high jump. This was definitely an evening I will never forget!
This morning, we had a pancake breakfast, and a presentation for The City of Chicago with the 2016 Olympic bid to host the Games. The presentation was so compelling and full of insight on what actually goes on when trying to host the Games. And even better how we Olympians can be a part of helping the process become a reality. At the breakfast this morning I meet yet another Olympian, Joe Henson, who competed in 1952. We believe he may have been our wisest Olympian present! He was a Naval Captain. Born in 1932, and was a Bronze medalist in the 1952 Olympics in wrestling.
As you see these twenty-four hours of activities went fast! But believe me the memories and friendships I have created will be forever embedded in my memory. This event was well over due, as they stated through out the event. But the thing that is constant, and now a USOC's moto that "Once and Olympian, Always and Olympian, Never former, Never Past" is now a reality for me!
Thank you for taking this journey with me! And Huskie Family, I will try to get some photo's up in the next two weeks from this memorable event so you can share in my experience!
July 26, 2008
To start off our Olympian reunion we checked in at the Olympic registration desk. The greeting from the other Olympians was heart warming. At that time Pam Jiles, an Olympian from the 1976 Track and Field team and silver medalist in 4 X 400 Relay, was helping with check-in. I was embraced by an Olympic female fencer, swimmer, and handball player. It was awesome to see the lobby full of Olympians. I did not know a lot of them, but that didn't matter because I knew history was in room!
We were transported over to the San Jose's new City Hall Rotunda. This building was amazing. As we gathered to take pictures outside and prepared to walk in a wonderful welcome reception was set up with musicians playing and people from the city to greet us.
The part of the reception we mingled, giving hugs and shaking hands! The choices of dining and beverages was set up along the out side of the room. A stage set, and Olympic banners for 2008 and some before, were hung. Former Olympian Ann Cribbs begins to speak, as everyone took their seats.
The actually ceremony reminded us that "Once and Olympian always and Olympian". Speakers went on to say how "It was about time that we all came together, all years and sports, to fellowship and welcome and sent off our new Olympic members of 2008. Every Olympian present went to the front of the room and spoke their name, sport, and year, and after a group picture was taken!
I can not begin to tell you the names of all the Olympians present, but even I got autographs of most. I meet the former CEO of Track and Field and Olympic Track and Field Athlete Olan Cassell, two ladies from the 1976 silver medalist basketball team, Dick Fosbury who invented the Fosbury Flop for high hump, Kim Welshons 1968 Olympian synchronized swimmer, Dwight Stone present commentator for televised Track and Field and a 1972, 76,& 84 Olympian in the high jump, Micki King, a 1972 gold medalist in diving, John Nunn 1968 bronze medalist in rowing, and even an Olympian from the 1960 Olympics, gold medalist in the 200M breaststroke, Bill Mulliken.
I may be an Olympian, but last night was an honor for me to be among such decorated athletes!
July 25, 2008
Today I start my travel to the first ever Olympic Reunion. This reunion, held in San Jose, California, is for all U.S. Olympians of all sports and years. This special weekend will be packed with interviews, a barbeque picnic, sight-seeing, and several receptions, including one honoring the 40th anniversary of Olympians from 1968. I will hear Olympians from well before me speak and give accounts of how their trials and tribulations eventually led to the ultimate title of Olympian.
This weekend may be a remembrance for me of my accomplishments as an athlete, but it is also a moment that I have never had before. A chance, as a lover of all sports, to meet others with the Olympian title outside of Track and Field. We will not know until later today which Olympians actually are able to attend, but as the weekend unfolds I will keep you informed of our activities.