Champion alum achieves the dream of his life | News, Sports, Jobs
Morgan Tracey has always had a “eclectic” range of interests that allowed him to live a lot of life in a short time.
After graduating from Champion High School in 1999, Tracey earned a football scholarship to Mercyhurst, where she played for four years.
Law school after college had always been the plan since she was a young girl, but she had a nagging feeling inside of her – she felt there was something she had to. do first. So she joined the AmeriCorps, where she spent time working with community action groups in Oregon, filing low-income tax returns in Arizona, and working as a firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service.
Five years later, it was time for law school. While there, Tracey made a deal with herself – a deal that would alter the current course of her life. If she passed the bar exam, she would pursue her lifelong dream of being an Olympian.
“I always wanted to be an Olympian all my life,” Tracey said. “Every four years was always on TV. Back then you had VHS tapes and I remember watching the previous games – it was something that (my family) always did. Every winter, my father took them out and we watched all the sports.
While studying for the bar exam, she began to learn about a little-known but electrifying sport called skeleton, thanks to her brother who, like her, had also played soccer at Champion.
“I thought if I passed the bar exam I was going to try skeleton,” Tracey said. “So I passed the bar, packed up my car and moved to Lake Placid, NY and tried out for the team, which was kinda crazy. My parents thought I was crazy .
There were countless other summer and winter Olympic sports she could take part in, including football, in which she already had considerable experience. So why skeleton?
“It’s not like I’m going to be a figure skater or a gymnast” Tracey said. “I looked at what I had to work with and thought this was my last chance. I was going to do it. Luckily I had a supportive family. Although they always told me that I was crazy at family events, they always supported me, which was part of the reason why I was going to try and pursue this dream.
What’s more, skeleton is unique in that it’s a sport you don’t have to do at an early age – it can be picked up later in life and still excel, according to Tracey.
“Most of our athletes come from college sports,” Tracey said. “We have a lot of sprinters, soccer players, softball players and football players, but mostly track and field. We can take an athlete and teach them this sport for 4 to 10 years.
Although skeleton is technically the slowest of the sliding sports that include bobsleigh and luge, it can be the most physically demanding. Athletes must endure four or five Gs of pressure while spinning headfirst on a narrow but heavy sled at speeds over 80 mph.
The track is about a mile long and an Olympic-caliber time is just over a minute for both men and women.
The Skeleton running start requires tremendous speed and power to get the best possible start for the first 50m or so of the track. But from there, the sledder must be extremely careful because the slightest movements of the body on the track can cause significant drag and lead to loss of time.
“Imagine being as excited as possible, then suddenly having to be as calm and relaxed as possible,” Tracey said. “Because sledding is so responsive that if you get tense, your sled will be everywhere.”
Tracey ended up being a member of Team USA for about eight years (2010-2017), playing in several North American Cups, European Cup, National Championships and a few America’s Cups , but unfortunately never participated in the Olympics.
While she may not have been able to fulfill her dream of competing in the Olympics, she is still a vital part of Team USA, currently serving as Director of Operations and Compliance and helping the US skeleton and bobsleigh teams currently competing in China.
In this role, she works in coordination with the US Olympic Committee to set up the organization’s performance plans for each four-year Olympic cycle.
She is also currently an on-site team leader in China, adding significantly to her already long list of responsibilities. She will make sure athletes and teams are signed up for the things they need to sign up for, that the team and coaches have everything they need to complete the performance plan, she will supervise the coordinator who organizes the transportation, hotels, equipment, among others, while ensuring the team adheres to IOC and Team USA rules, particularly in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“So I’m in the Olympic Village with the team, it’s great, but it’s a 24-hour job,” Tracey said. “You make sure the athletes have everything they need and are supported. I wear a lot of different hats. One of the reasons I love it is that my day is never the same, especially in today’s COVID world.
It’s no secret how the pandemic has affected these Olympics, especially with the athletes and events essentially kept in a bubble without fans, but Tracey said the athletes got the most out of their Olympic experience.
“I would be remiss to say it was the same thing, it certainly isn’t,” Tracey said. “But (the athletes) are still there – they are still looking up and those rings are still there. We always do everything we can to make it as experienceable as possible. Forever, they will always be Olympians, and just talking about it gives me chills.
“Going to the Olympics is not just every four years, but it’s every day with the long hours with your teammates, the missed holidays with your family”, she continued. “I’m sad for the athletes that their parents and families can’t be here because it takes a whole village to get here, but we’re making the best of it.”
In the end, Tracey’s decision to bet on herself and pursue her dream paid off, even though she may not have been able to make it to the Olympics herself.
Everyone has a different road, a different path, and Tracey’s path ended up leading her to the Olympics, albeit in a different title.
“There are more ways to get things done than the traditional route,” she said. “I thought I’d be working in corporate law now, but instead I’m here to make sure we cross our T’s and point to our I’s. So you never know what life is like.” will bring you. I might not have been here if I hadn’t had my support system…it really does take a whole village to make an Olympian.