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Terris Tiller ’00

Behind The Scenes at the Olympics

By Donna Parker

One month before the entire world was dazzled by the high-excitement, colorful opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Beijing, Terris Tiller, who received his bachelor’s degree in communication and history from Trinity in 2000, was quietly working behind scenes with the elite of athletes of Team USA.  His Games’ responsibilities included numerous tasks, including helping to sneak Michael Phelps into China to escape the media bonanza awaiting his arrival into the country.

“As a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, we go into what we term ‘Games Mode.’  All normal job titles and responsibilities are put aside as we each are provided new assignments and roles while working at the Olympic Games.  My tasks were various and diverse.  I helped with the load-in of equipment and final build out of our High Performance Training Center (HPTC); served as part of the transportation operations team whose main function was to get athletes safely from the Beijing Airport away from the swarming media and to the Olympic Village; created an athlete lounge safe space for athletes to relax in between workouts in front of 65 inch television or play Wii games; lifeguarded at the HPTC pool; and even worked as a training partner for one of the Modern Pentathlon athletes.”

When not tending to the most skilled athletes on the planet, Terris works full-time as the multi-media coordinator and dorm lead for the U.S. Olympic Committee’s athlete services and programs division in Colorado Springs.

Sports are integrated into Terris’ working and personal life, as he also teaches fencing to kids ages 10 to 17 at a local fencing club twice a week, as well as helps run one-day seminars for businessmen by utilizing fencing to best illustrate how to incorporate business strategies into the work environment.  In his spare time, Terris is usually working out or playing basketball, although he does stop to read, write, and hang out with friends.

Sports are integrated into Terris’ working and personal life.  Terris spends his free time working out, running, fencing, and playing basketball, although he does stop to read, write, and hang out with friends.

“Lasting friendships are important to me.  In fact, they are one of the things I cherish about my Trinity experience.  We had such great times there on the cross country and track teams.  Who knew you could cook pasta in a bath tub?”

“It’s funny…the only job I could find after graduation was lifeguarding at the Trinity pool, which at the time I found depressing.  I never thought, at the time, that lifeguarding would help my career and prove useful at the Olympic Games.”

“When I’m not in my dorm, I’m traveling the world in some manner that is directly or indirectly related to sport, so I’m still learning what it means to reside in the ‘real world.’  One lesson that Trinity taught me, among others, is that I always show up prepared, dedicated, and confident that I can perform the job.” 

“Robert Huesca, department of communication, and Char Miller, department of history, were and are great influences.  I always felt connected to the passion they had for their work.  Their instruction was tangible and practical to everyday life and culture.  In addition, Sammye Johnson, department of communication, always pushed me to work hard enough to match my talent.  Her direction helped me maintain a focus to get the most out of what I do and learn all that I can for later life.”

Terris, still single, says he is a perfectionist and is rarely satisfied with his successes. 

“I always want more and feel I can do better.  I am more patient than I used to be and more dedicated, but I’m most proud of being self-sufficient and at ease traveling the world.  No matter how bad things get, I can find a way to deal with what life throws at me.”

“I’m not doing what I envisioned at Trinity, but who knew I’d be sneaking in a record-breaker like Michael Phelps into China or even have a chance to work at the Olympic Games.  How could anyone have envisioned that?”

You may contact Terris at Terris.tiller@usoc.org.  You can also read about his Olympic adventures at www.tfools2000.blogspot.com.