Everyone can’t say that they attend a school where Olympic athletes train, but students at East Tennessee State University can.
In 2012 ETSU put in an application to the U.S. Olympic committee to become an Olympic training site. Later that year they got approved and their first step was to implement weight lifting. In 2013 the addition of Brad DeWeese, an associate professor in the Department of Sport, Exercise, Recreation and Kinesiology at ETSU, brought a lot of knowledge and athletes in canoe/kayak, bobsled and other winter sports to ETSU. DeWeese came from Lake Placid, an Olympic training site in New York.
“When he came here, he came with a background with athletes,” said Meg Stone, Director of the Center of Excellence for Sport Science and Coach Education and Director of the Olympic Training Site. “They [the athletes] knew him and they trusted him and the work he had been doing with them up there [Lake Placid]. He was very active in producing Olympians there so naturally when he moved here, they wanted to come work with him.”
When athletes training for the Olympics come to ETSU to train in the Olympic training site, they are in close contact with DeWeese. Athletes contact DeWeese when they are interested in coming; he sends the athletes a form for housing, gets them situated with housing and then the training begins.
“Regardless of what level they compete at, the success is built on the relationship, so we communicate constantly,” said DeWeese.
This past year, not including the 15 weightlifters who attended ETSU, there were around 32 athletes who used the Olympic training site this year training for winter sports. Seven of these athletes will compete in the Olympic Winter Games this year in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
On the U.S. Olympic Men’s Bobsled Team, there is Chris Kinney, an ETSU alumni, Hakeem Abdul-Saboor and Steve Langton.
The USA Skeleton team will consist of John Daly, and the 2018 U.S. Olympic Luge Team will consist of Chris Mazdzer.
Seun Adigun will lead the very first three-woman bobsled team representing the country of Nigeria, and Lachlan Reidy will be Brakeman for the Australian Men’s Bobsleigh Team.
“Our job is to fully maximize those athletes’ potential, so if that’s going to the Olympics, we’re going to leave no stone unturned as they go through the training years,” said DeWeese. “We also want to make sure we cultivate those athletes to be able to retire properly…It’s about creating a total athlete and a good person, and that’s a lot of what drives what we do.”
The 2018 Olympic Winter Games are from Feb. 9 until Feb. 25. The athletes participating in the winter games are currently in Calgary in Canada to practice before the big competition.