ESCANABA - Although he didn't make the trip to this year's Olympics in London, Gladstone High School graduate Steve Schram had an opportunity to work with some of the United States Olympic track and field athletes earlier this summer.
Schram was selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee to do volunteer work at the Olympic Trials in late June at Eugene, Ore., which he says was an extensive process.
"I applied about a year ago and the committee selected the voluteers," Schram said during a telephone interview Monday night from his home in Washburn, Wis. "We had to go through an FBI security check, had to agree to work five different shifts and attend a mandatory training session. Then, we were placed in a pool. We had more than 4,000 apply and they selected approximately 1,700."
Photo courtesy of Stephen Schram
Stephen Schram stands next to the gate he worked at for the U.S. Olympic track and field trials at Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus. Schram was among 1,700 selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee out of over 4,000 who applied, to do volunteer work during the trials.
Schram says applying early was very helpful.
"Being a USA certified official also helped because I understand track and field," he added. "I worked for two days at the gate. My job was to help out in any way I could and make sure the athletes had shuttle service back to their hotels. I also spent two days working in the media tents. We had to make sure the media people had all the information they needed."
During his time in Oregon, Schram had a chance to meet and talk with Sanya Richards-Ross, the Olympic gold medalist in the women's 400-meter dash, and Carmelita Jeter, who took silver in the women's 100 last Saturday.
Also among those he met were hurdler Lolo Jones, 800-meter runner Genna Gall and Lewis Johnson, the NBC announcer on the field.
Jones ran in qualifying heats Monday and Gall, who attended the University of Michigan and is a member of the Oregon Track Club, was still awaiting her first taste of competition in London.
"They were real nice people and very appreciative of everything we do for track and field," said Schram. "It was really an awesome experience being around all these world class athletes. At that level, I've always been a fan of track and field. But I had never been able to participate at this level. It's a very surreal experience to watch the Olympics and know I was at Eugene, Ore. and able to talk to them."
Schram says it rained everyday while he was at Eugene (about 100 miles from the Pacific Ocean), but the elements didn't dampen anyone's spirits.
"Everybody was upbeat and enjoying him or herself," he added. "Everyday there were about 21,000 fans in the stands. You could actually be outside the stadium (in a festival area) and watch the action on a big jumbo TV screen and hear the announcers for free. It was a very positive experience, a lot of fun to be around."