Briefs: New program assists retiring athletes+

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Many professional athletes of yesteryear had a difficult time securing employment after retiring from their sport. Not only that, but retirement came at an early age – usually when athletes were in their early to mid-20s. While some planned ahead financially, others were forced out of their field earlier than expected by injuries. Most didn’t make plans at all, forcing them to take jobs they weren’t prepared for or where they were underpaid.
The United States Olympic Training Center recently opened a career center to assist retiring athletes. Located in the Olympic Complex as a part of the Athletes Services Division, the 621-square-foot space within the division’s 1,384 square feet has served 85 athletes and six coaches since its Feb. 13 open house.
The Athletes Services Division assists athletes seeking employment while awaiting their time to compete in the Olympics. In the 1996 to 2000 quadrennium, the Athletes Services Division assisted 1,089 athletes and coaches. Since then it has assisted an additional 205 athletes and 130 coaches.
The Athletes Services Division employs six people. Five are based in Colorado Springs with the sixth stationed in Salt Lake City.
Drake Bean Morin, a career consulting firm based in Boston, funded the start-up of the career center and a similar one at Lake Placid, N.Y., with $200,000 for both facilities. In return DBM has an exclusive contract to service the athletes in their transition to the working world.
Both facilities provide magazines, newspapers, and books on career strategies and educational resources. Gateway Computers supplied Internet access and three computers to the Colorado Springs facility. A software program called Online Career Compass helps athletes create and post resumes on the Internet, as well as research companies for employment opportunities. “They (Drake Bean Morin) don’t fish for people,” said Keith Bryant , manager of the facility. “They teach people how to fish.”
This is accomplished through a program DBM calls Peak Performers Workshop. The four-hour seminar helps athletes identify transferable skills and design a resume that fits their needs. It teaches the athletes the skills for networking, interviewing techniques, and how to negotiate an offer. The workshop, along with follow-up consultation, costs between $1,500 and $6,000, depending on the amount of service each athlete needs. For example, four hours of follow-up consultation costs $1,300.
The athletes and coaches don’t pay for this service; it is covered by the USOC.
The contract between USOC and DBM runs eight years and does not offer a placement program at this time, said Bryant. The Team USA Web site will eventually be able to offer that service.

Start your engines!
Auto racing fans should be happy that Pike Peak International Raceway is gearing up for the 2001 season with its first event to take place next week.
The first of four season events begins on May 19 and consists of two races: the Jelly Belly 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series presented by Dodge and the Sun State Equipment Co. 100 NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour Series.
Previously the site of the Pikes Peak Meadow horse track, PPIR was built in 1997 as the state’s first super-speedway for $35 million by a private investor. The stands can seat nearly 63,000 fans who watch races on a 1.34-mile road course.
The Jelly Belly competition — known last year as the 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series — and the Featherlite series drew a crowd of about 27,000 in 2000 with seats selling for an average price of $35. This year’s competition is expected to draw about the same.
Stacey Jones, spokeswoman for PPIR, is expecting about 10,000 the first day of qualifying times.
Sunday’s event will begin with qualifying times at 8 a.m. The Jelly Belly begins at 1 p.m. and lasts about two hours. It will feature a variety of souped-up trucks including Dodge, Chevy and Ford models. The Featherlite race will begin at 3:30 p.m. and should last about two hours as well and will feature Monte Carlo, Chevy and Ford automobiles. Vehicles have been fitted with larger engines and adjusted air intake for faster speeds.
An economic impact study done last year by PPIR showed that the season’s four racing events brought in nearly $85 million to Colorado Springs and Pueblo hotels and restaurants. Visitors stay between three and five days, said Jones. The study also showed that most racetrack visitors come from Southern Colorado and New Mexico.
PPIR spends about $1.2 million each year on the 28 full-time employees’ payroll and benefits. Operations spending amounts to about $6.3 million annually.