Monday, December 17, 2018

SLCC, US Speedskating Partner to Educate Olympic Hopefuls

SLCC students train in speedskating at the Utah Olympic Oval for the 2022 Winter Games.

Danielle Amos turned a childhood love of roller skating into dreams of someday becoming an Olympic short track speedskater, but reaching peak level to compete on the world stage is a full-time commitment and Amos, 21, once thought she’d have to sacrifice a college education to reach her athletic goals.

Recognizing many of their athletes are forced to choose between their Olympic dreams and education, U.S. Speedskating (USS) and Salt Lake Community College have developed an agreement waiving all tuition for USS athletes for up to nine consecutive semesters. The agreement runs through at least the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing and makes SLCC the official higher education provider for U.S. Speedskating.

“The partnership with SLCC is a game-changer for our athletes and organization,” said Ted Morris, executive director of USS. “Being able to add outstanding educational opportunities to the existing training programs we offer will provide our athletes with a life pathway off the ice. We are focused on offering skaters the right training and academic balance, and the partnership with SLCC goes a long way in helping us accomplish this goal.”

When not in training, Olympic hopefuls attend classes at SLCC.

Currently, eight USS athletes are benefitting from the agreement with SLCC. Amos, originally from Ohio, is a freshman at the college and is interested in a degree in psychology. Someday she’d like a career counseling people with a history of abuse or addiction, but first, her sights are set on 2022. “My ultimate goal, since I was a child, has been to become an Olympian,” she said. “This partnership allows me to continue being a full-time, world-class athlete and work toward my degree simultaneously. I’m extremely thankful for the partnership with U.S. Speedskating and SLCC for providing me with such an opportunity, as I believe my future career goals, after my athletic career, will be much more attainable.”

For many Olympic hopefuls like Amos, intense training programs leave little time for full-time jobs or schooling. Some athletes live near or below the federal poverty line. In response to this, SLCC will leverage federal Pell grants and SLCC Promise scholarship funds to guarantee that USS athletes receive any financial aid for which they’re eligible to fully cover their tuition at the college.

In addition to the tuition assistance made possible by the partnership, many athletes may find SLCC’s flexible scheduling and extensive online offerings allow them to work in addition to training and attending school. “I never thought I’d be able to skate full time and go to school and work part time all at once,” says Brett Perry, 25, a Michigan native majoring in computer science at SLCC and a member of the USS. “Online classes are amazing when you have a tight schedule.”

“I think it is great to have participated in a small way to see this come to fruition – what a great institution we have,” said Nate Thomas, associate dean for SLCC’s Health and Lifetime Activities department. Thomas notes the partnership also establishes the college as the exercise science performance provider for USS. “We perform high-level performance assessments to assist the USS in talent identification as well as training and performance enhancement.”