Two Tennessee Tech Staffers Play Important Roles at Olympic Games in Atlanta

Thousands will travel to Atlanta this summer to see the Olympic Games, and millions more will watch the events on television, but few will get the up-close-and-personal view of the games that two Tennessee Technological University staffers will.

David Green and Lorenzo Rivers are both part of the medical teams that will be on site for the athletes in Atlanta. Green, Tennessee Tech's head athletic trainer, is one of about 500 volunteer trainers. Rivers, strength and conditioning coach for Tennessee Tech's Golden Eagle football team, is a doping escort; he will monitor athletes between the time they finish competition and the post-contest drug test.

Green says he's thrilled to be participating, especially since he learned he's been assigned to the main training room in the Olympic Village. There, he and colleagues will provide evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation for all types of injuries to Olympic athletes who do not have their own medical staff. The United States Olympic team has its own staff of about 12-15 trainers, says Green.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to really be part of the games," says Green, who submitted a 10-page application and underwent a security check to be selected. According to Green, volunteers are expected to work nine hours a day, six days a week, and provide their own travel, housing and most meals.

"It's a great learning experience," says Green, "and I'm looking forward to working with my peers and those whose work I've admired in the field."

Rivers has already been to Atlanta in connection with this year's Olympics: he attended the U.S. Track and Field Trials early last week. There, it was his job to keep a close watch on Michael Conley once Conley took second place in the triple jump contest. Athletes who place in the top three in their event are required to provide a urine sample for drug testing within one hour of completing the event.

Bill Whitehill, program manager for athlete medical services for the Atlanta Committee on the Olympic Games, recommended that Rivers be one of the 200 doping escorts for the games. Whitehill is on leave from his job as an assistant professor of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at Middle Tennessee State University.

Whitehill has provided athletic training services for the U.S. Olympic Committee for about 6 years, and Rivers was among those who had worked with him in that capacity. "I wanted to recommend people I had worked with," says Whitehill.

"There were recommendations from across the country," says Whitehill, "but the Committee's goal here was to involve as many local people as possible. There are a lot of Atlanta people who will be doping escorts, but there are also a lot of people from middle Tennessee."

In July, Rivers will be assigned to escort various athletes in several sports, including weight-lifting, wrestling, judo and fencing. "You don't really know who you'll be with," says Rivers, but it's likely he'll be assigned to medalists in some sports.

At the trials, Rivers met gold medalists Carl Lewis and Jackie Joyner-Kirse. "All of the athletes were really nice people, and when you think that these are the best athletes in the world and you can just stand there and talk with them, it's unbelievable."