Costco members go for the glory
THERE ARE MANY routes to the Olympics. For some, the path involves carrying the banner as one
of the dominant athletes in their sport. Others participate in supporting roles that are just as impor-
tant, as coaches, physicians, trainers and more. In honor of this month’s Olympics in Beijing, The
Connection is sharing the stories of a few Costco members who are on the road to gold.
Training for interviews
ATHLETES ARE used to working hard. However,
though they spend hours a day practicing, they may
neglect an event that could become almost as important: the media interview.
That’s where Kevin Long comes in. The West
Lafayette, Indiana, Costco member is a media trainer
www.sportsmediatraining.com), tasked with making
sure these athletes know how to handle themselves in
front of the camera or with a reporter.
“Some athletes are so focused and driven on the
sport,” observes Long, “they don’t understand the
value of being perceived well.
“Reporters aren’t out there trying to get you, but
if you present them with the opportunity they’ll take
advantage of it, so you have to be prepared,” continues Long, who has done media training for numerous schools, teams, athletes and coaches, as well as
members of Congress and U.S. and foreign government officials.
Long gets his clients ready with a presentation
and then conducts mock interviews.
“We’ll put them in front of the camera and throw
them a few softballs,” he says. “And then we’ll grill
them really hard to make them squirm and scream.
Then we let them watch and show them what they
did. ‘Your body language is off here. What you’re telling me by the way you’re holding your head or frowning or shuffling in your seat, crossing your legs,
tapping your fingers on the table, are all cues that
you’re not comfortable
with your answer.’ ”
Long sums it up:
“My job is to get them
comfortable and confident, because then
they’re in control.
They [usually] don’t
get a lot of media
attention, but now
to a stage where
Kevin Long prepares one of the U.S. Women’s
Water Polo team members for a mock interview.
IT MAY BE hard to imagine a
champion track star with a less
appropriate nickname. But
23-year-old Costco member
Allyson Felix, affectionately
called “Chicken Legs” by her
teammates, just shrugs it off
and lets her feet do the talking.
Although she didn’t start
running until ninth grade,
inspired by her brother, she
showed such promise that she
turned professional immediately after high school, and in
2007 she became only the second woman in history to win
three gold medals at one
International Association of
Athletics Federation World
Championships. Coached by
Bob Kersee, the husband and
trainer of six-time Olympic
medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee,
Felix won the 200 meters in
21.81 seconds, the fastest time
run by a woman in this century.
The daughter of an
ordained minister, Felix sees
her running ability as a gift
from God, “My faith is the reason I run—it calms my heart
and makes everything feel like
a lift. My speed is definitely a
gift from Him, and I run for His
glory. Whatever I do, He allows
me to do it.
“I am a competitor to the
fullest, and my goal is to win,
but my purpose for competing
is my faith and to bring glory
Overcoming life’s hurdles
WITH RACES averaging just 13 seconds, the
110-meter hurdles—ten 3.5-foot-high hurdles,
spaced along a straight course—is an event that can
plague a competitor with injuries from speed as well
as contact with the hurdles. Thirty-year-old Costco
member Terrence Trammell, from Atlanta, Georgia,
is no stranger to either.
“I think that my biggest challenge has been overcoming injuries,” says Trammell, who has had to
battle through several that threatened to throw him
off track. “It is really tough to come back and prepare
to run in a major championship.”
Nevertheless, he has prevailed. Running with an
injured hamstring, he took second place in the 2003
U.S. Nationals, finishing 0.01 second behind the
winner. In 2007, a groin tear while leaping
over the seventh of the 10 hurdles merely
slowed him to silver medal pace. With
a heavily taped-up leg, Trammell
later won the 2007 U.S. Championships. Trammell has won silver
medals in the 2000 and 2004
Summer Olympics and—
injured or not—is considered one of the strongest
U.S. contenders for 2008.
—T. Foster Jones