This month Jeff Byrne ’74 joined us from Lake Placid, NY for a conversation about his passion for athletics and mentorship, and the impact that the Olympic Regional Development Authority has on the region.
[Podcast theme music plays.]
Amelia: Hello everyone. This is Amelia Jantzi, assistant director of marketing and content strategy, here at St. Lawrence University. A new position, a little switch up from last time.
Beth: Yay. Congrats, Amelia.
Amelia: But I'm not going anywhere. Still co-hosting this wonderful podcast with the wonderful Beth Dixon, our executive director of New York City Internships, and Laurentian Engagement Associates. Hey Beth.
Amelia: How's it going?
Beth: They're going well. I'm super excited about the interview that we have today, with Jeff Byrne. I'm so stoked.
Amelia: Yeah. This should be an interesting story. Jeff Byrne comes to us from the class of 1974. He's a current member of the Alumni Executive Council. And prior to retiring, he most recently worked for the Olympic Regional Development Authority, in Lake Placid, New York, just around the corner.
Beth: Oh. Yes.
Amelia: And overall, he has this career built on athletics and coaching, teaching and mentoring, and is really an outstanding Laurentian. And should be a fascinating story for everyone to hear.
Beth: Yeah, I totally agree. I love how so many of our Laurentians go into this path of teaching, education, mentoring, coaching, and he exemplifies that, with such an awarded career. And he got me thinking, I said, we're going to be talking to somebody who worked for the Olympic Regional Development Authority, and the Olympics were on when we are recording this. So I was like, how many Laurentians have gone and competed in the Olympics? And how many are gold medalists? Or metals in general. Amelia, do you have any sense of how many Laurentians have competed in the Olympics?
Amelia: I have absolutely zero sense. This is fascinating. And I feel like I should have thought about this question before, but I didn't. So please tell me.
Beth: So, based off of my knowledge and research, I was able to find that 18 Laurentians, both grads and non grads, have competed in the Olympics. With 16 of them competing in various winter Olympics, and two of them competing in the summer Olympics. The two that competed in summer Olympics, competed in sailing and rowing. So, very similar boat kind of sport. I mean, they're not similar. I'm sure that the athletes out there are going, they're not similar at all. I understand that.
Amelia: But that makes sense for St. Lawrence.
Beth: Absolutely. We have four gold medalist recipients that are Laurentians. We have Gina Kingsbury, class of '04, who was inducted for the Legends of Appleton, into the hall of fame. What was that? February 2020, before the pandemic hit?
Amelia: It was. It was the last big, splashy event we did, before we all went on Zoom. So, can't ever forget the Appleton opening. What an experience.
Beth: Well, she competed in the Torino in 2006, and Vancouver in 2010, winter Olympics. And won gold with team Canada, for the women's hockey. We have a non grad, Meghan Musnicki, who would have been class of 2005. She transferred to Ithaca in her sophomore year, and she has been a gold medal recipient for team USA in both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics, in rowing. And then we have Isabelle Chartrand, another non grad from the class of '03, who competed for the women's ice hockey in Canada, and won gold in Salt Lake City, in 2002.
Beth: We had a lot of Olympians in 2002, by the way. I've looked at that. And then, Ed Rimkus class of '38, competed in the bobsledding, and won gold in the London 1948 Olympics.
Beth: So I thought that was pretty cool. When I looked back, I think he was the earliest Laurentian who had competed in the Olympics overall, as well.
Beth: So, we have some pretty amazing athletes out there. And just a small side note I wanted to say too, I don't know if people know this but, if you complete one semester at St. Lawrence, we do consider you an alum. We call it an alum-non grad, non graduation. But we have plenty of wonderful people who throughout the St. Lawrence history, have not been able to complete their degrees or have transferred, or for whatever reason, but are still connected. And we consider them a part of the Laurentian community because of that. But I thought that was fun to look into, before this interview.
Amelia: That is really fascinating. And what a great segue into this amazing interview.
Beth: I can't wait to hear all about what Jeff Byrne has done to help support so many winter athletes, with his work with ORDA. So let's kick it over to our interview, right now.
[Short Music Interlude]
Beth: Jeff, how are you doing today?
Jeff: Oh, just fantastic. Beautiful day in the Adirondacks, so I can't ask for anything more.
Beth: Now, you're now you're in Lake Placid right.
Jeff: That's correct.
Beth: Excellent. And so, thank you so much for joining us today. We are really excited to chat with you. And one of the things that we wanted to just start off with is, how have you stayed connected with St. Lawrence? How are you engaged? And why are you engaged with St. Lawrence?
Jeff: Well, I had a little bit of a disconnect after graduating. I moved around to several different jobs. The first 15 years, were education and coaching. And then I went out west, I came back east, to Washington DC. And then I made my way back to Lake Placid. And it was shortly after I moved back to Lake Placid, that Margie Strait got ahold of me. And she said, Jeff, I really would like you to come as part an Alumni council, and talk to student athletes. So I did that for three or four years, and that was a lot of fun. It was great, and it was great to connect with some alums from previous years, and also, obviously student athletes. And that's a pretty exciting group.
Beth: So with the student athletes, what kind of things were you connecting about? Were you connecting specifically about what it was like to be a student athlete? Because I know that you played soccer at St. Lawrence, correct?
Jeff: Yes, I did.
Beth: And so, was it more about being an alum who used to play sports and what you could do afterwards, or was it a cheerleading group?
Jeff: It's a little bit about the reality of, what do sports do for you? And a solid academic background, as you get out into the world, and start running into interests and moves, and interviews and all of that. And I think, we all seem to have the same message in that process. And it was A, make sure you talk about the strong academic background. And B, don't hesitate to get into sports and your career. Because sports is a lot about winning and losing. And reality is, in the big world, you run into some of the same factors. And having lost and being able to rebound, whether it's a game or whether it's a business transaction, you're all the stronger because of it.
Amelia: When you were attending St. Lawrence and you were a student athlete, were you intending to build a career based around athletics?
Jeff: Well, I'll answer that in two forms. I started off my freshman year playing soccer, and had a great season. And then in July, between my freshman and sophomore year, I got hit by a car when I was driving between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake. And basically, I broke my back in the accident, and that was it for soccer. I came back to St. Lawrence with a full body brace that I had to wear for nine months. So it was the reality of, things do happen. And then again, how do you rebound off of that? And I think, I was always sports minded and sports interested. I had a great high school career and great coaches, and I always wanted to go back to that profession. And in my case, in a private school. And that's basically what I chased for the 15 years, out of St. Lawrence.
Jeff: So, I was a teacher and I was a coach, and I became an administrator. So, that was tremendous. And I will attribute that to St. Lawrence. And really having to realize, well, okay, plan A didn't work. What's plan B? And I always preach to different groups, you're only as strong as your plan B. So, it was a reality check. So, I think what I learned in the years to come is that, I could get back on my feet, I could kick a soccer ball, I could play club soccer, which was great. I really wasn't up to the standard of playing varsity. But we had great soccer at St. Lawrence, as we do with a lot of sports. And then, I was also involved with the ski team. And that became a big part of my life, moving forward. Was coaching, and ski teaching.
Beth: Now Jeff, are you originally from the Adirondacks? You mentioned that the car accident happened between what was it? Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. Were you home during that summer? Or were you up there for other reasons?
Jeff: I was working in Lake Placid. Yeah. I spent a lot of summers in Lake Placid, working at the Lake Placid Club, and bartending at other places. And so, it really became a summer home, so to speak. I grew up in Plattsburgh -
Beth: Oh, okay.
Jeff: Right. And I went away to school, when I was 14.
Beth: Wow. So, would you say that these summers at the Lake Placid Club, really inspired you to stay within, or if you could, return to the north country, the Adirondacks, and try to live here? Is that part of the reason why you decided to come back?
Jeff: I've always had a very warm spot for Lake Placid. And when I graduated from St. Lawrence, I came to Lake Placid and I worked for a year. Created a marketing job at the Lake Placid Club, to entice colleges and corporate groups to come up to Lake Placid on ski trips, and all of that. While at the same time, I was doing some bartending.
Jeff: And I spent the year in the spring. All I did was paddle whitewater, because I was a kayaker also. And had a great experience, but it was time for me to move on. And I found a teaching job just outside of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. And I was there for two years, and then the job opened up at Northwood. And it was in the field that I was teaching, and also the sports that I was coaching.
Jeff: So I moved up to Lake Placid in '77, you guys probably weren't even born then, but to take on the job at Northwood school. And that took me through the Olympics here in town, and I left in '82. I was hired by a friend whose kids I coached, to help him start a ski academy in Sugarloaf, on Maine.
Beth: Oh wow.
Jeff: So, I was up there for nine years. So I left in '82, and I came back to Lake Placid in '97. And the 17 years away, were tremendous. I realized that I could live in a lot of different places, including Washington, DC.
Amelia: Very different.
Jeff: They all had a great chapter. And then I had an opportunity to come back here, with the Olympic Authority, ORDA. And I took that.
Amelia: So, were you always hoping to end up back in Lake Placid? Or was that just how life worked out, and it just happened to go that way?
Jeff: Well, it was how life worked out. When I left here in '77, I didn't necessarily think I'd be coming. It might've been a situation maybe, down the road. Because, what a lot of young people realize is that, inside the blue line, which is basically the Adirondack Park, jobs aren't that readily available. And for people that are trying to get into that type of business, you just really have to keep looking, and be in the right place at the right time.
Jeff: Fortunately in my life, really, every job that I've had, came as a result of knowing somebody. I think that's one of the reasons that the St. Lawrence network is so good, and so important, of making that introduction, and making that connection. And seeing where that connection can take you. And not stopping, I'm just really cultivating it.
Beth: I'm really happy that you bring that up. I think one of the things that I know about you is that, you have been working very hard within the LINC program, which is a mentoring program. As well as, you're a leader within the alum network, as a member of the Alumni Executive Council. And one of the things I know that you have done is, tried really hard to be a connector for students, and for alums, regardless of the fields that they're in. Can you speak a little bit to what has inspired you? Was it because you were able to find your jobs through people, whether they were St. Lawrence connected, or people that you knew in other areas of your work and your life? Is that the inspiration there? Or was it truly, I know that St. Lawrence, this is the mission of our alums, and I want to live up to it?
Jeff: Well, I think that's definitely a part of it. Again, the reality is, in my life, I've always been connected with students, and student athletes. And, you coach for three seasons a year, over the course of 15 years, there are a lot of people that have come across your doorstep.
Jeff: And I absolutely loved it, because coaching and sports were always a game of life. And there was so much you could learn in that process, that were just life skill oriented. And I really liked the concept of the LINC program when I heard it the first time. And I said, absolutely. I'm on board. And I think there's a clear definition of what a LINC mentor does. And a LINC mentor is not a teacher, it's not a parent, it's not a coach, it's not an advisor.
Jeff: It is a person that really is there to provide some guidance and direction, and a snapshot of what the big world may have out there. And hopefully, an inspiration to try things. As nervous as it is to leave your home and go somewhere, or nervous as it is to get on a plane and go to Europe or South America, it's such a great outcome. When somebody gets done with those programs, a semester away, wherever it is, they come back and they're bigger, they're smarter, they're more broad minded. And those are the things that I think are really key to growing up in the world.
Beth: I love hearing that. Liberal arts, lifelong learners, global citizens, those are all wonderful things.
Jeff: Well, certainly. They're so important. It's part of what we put stock in, so we're stronger in the outcome.
[Short Music Interlude]
Beth: We’re going to take a short break from the podcast to tell you a little bit about an opportunity that you can get involved with as a member of the Laurentian community. The Laurentian book club which is a book club that you can join other Laurentians in a private forum and discuss a book in a certain time frame. You can find this information on the Alumni page of the St. Lawrence webpage under the Learn and Connect menu you’ll find the Laurentian Book Club there. Amelia, I know that you have participated in this book club in the past. Can you tell me a little more about what you’ve read and how the book club operates?
Amelia: This book club is great because there is something for everyone, no book is like the last. And members have the opportunity to vote on the next new book. So you actually get a say in what you’ll be reading next. Some of my favorites have been The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. It was just a beautiful novel that’s all about the opportunity and the richness of life. And another one that I really loved was A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell, which talks about this female spy in Nazi occupied France and how her role was pivotal in WWII and this story I never heard: It is factual.
Amelia: And so it was super cool. So really, no book is like the last you’ll have access to an online forum, be able to pose questions, interact with comments and really share a unique opportunity and community of Laurentians learning about books and loving to read. So if you were looking for a sign to read a little bit more and that extra push, we’ll be starting a new book in October so definitely be on the lookout for that.
Beth: Excellent, once again go to the alumni page of the St. Lawrence webpage and go to the Learn and Connect menu and it will be a drop-down option, The Laurentian Book Club.
Beth: We’ll get back to our interview, right now.
[Short Music Interlude]
Amelia: Jeff, I wanted to, as we've talking about your experience on the mentor side of LINC Program. In our last episode, we had the opportunity to talk to an alum who was on the student end of that. So it's really exciting to hear this other perspective. But I was thinking about your experience in this mentor role. And something that you said earlier when you were sharing with us about your accident, about you're only as good as your plan B. And I was wondering if you'd be willing to share, or if there was an example of how that perspective maybe, helped someone that you've mentored. Whether in the LINC Program, or during your times in coaching and teaching.
Jeff: Let me talk about one individual I actually came in contact with, in the mentor program. He was also, I think he still, is, also a mentor. His name is Elsie Walker.
Amelia: Oh, yes.
Jeff: And I don't know if you know Elsie, but Elsie is a film writer, and producer. And he has a great story to tell. And I learned a little about him when he first joined on as a LINC Mentor, and I got to know him a little better the next year. And so, I've been working pretty closely with him, and one of my fellow class of '74, Mark Driscoll, to really help Elsie take next steps forward, get through some doors. I have reconnected with the St. Lawrence Alumni office to get some contacts there, and they've been extremely helpful in that process. Elsie came up to Lake Placid for a few days. So we had a chance to sit down, and really talk strategy.
Jeff: And it was fantastic. So I think, again, you go into something with so much energy and excitement. A Job, or a career, or whatever path you're on, and sometimes you get a little bit of the steam taken out of you, because it may not be that easy to walk through the door and take the next step. So again, going back to the option of, okay, I know that was my plan A. My plan B, what's my plan B? So, you do. You have other options as you move forward. And the worlds there for you to figure that one out.
Beth: I'm happy you bring up Elsie. Elsie was the classmate of mine. We were both performance and communication arts majors together. And he is a wonderful person, with so many wonderful stories to tell, and very talented. So I'm happy that, for the work that you've done to invest in one of my Laurentian friends, and in his life and career. I'm also thankful for him to not only share stories, but also to give back to the Laurentian community, through the LINC mentor program. This is just such a wonderful opportunity for many people to find ways to utilize their talents, to give back to the students, and give back to the Laurentian community.
Jeff: He's an awesome guy. And a lot of his message is about bullying in school. And opening that up, exposing it, talking about it. And he's really done a great job in taking that message to a number of schools in different states, which will continue to be part of what he does. And as you said, he's been involved with the mentor program, but he's also been involved in having St. Lawrence students or Alumni, connected to some of the projects he's doing. So again, opportunities there too.
Amelia: Well, you shared a lot about how to win and to lose, and to pivot when unexpected things happen. And I'm curious the role that you see athletics playing in a liberal arts education, as opposed to just life in general.
Jeff: Oh, sure. I think, one of the things, thinking back to the time I was at St. Lawrence, there were a lot of students that were coming in, who were good athletes from high school. And you only had so many athletes that were going to make the team. And there was club sports, which was great, but it was a little bit down paced from a varsity team. In my day, we had freshmen sports, and then you went to the varsity.
Jeff: And then it became JV sports and... But that opportunity, you may have 30 or 45 student athletes that take that on. And I think, a number of the athletes don't continue. They may not be that good. In my case, in ski racing, when I came to St. Lawrence, we had a class full of incredible alpine ski racers. And it was pretty clear I wasn't going to make that five, that were going to ski racing. So, I stayed involved with the ski team, but I also got into ski teaching and coaching, in Lake Placid, when I was a junior. When I could basically, walk and ski again. For me, that connection was great, and a lot of those guys are still very close friends of mine. And some of them live in Lake Placid.
Beth: I do think that it's important to recognize that as a mostly D III school, we have many students that come in as wonderful athletes, incredible athletes. Who, once they graduate, they keep athletics in some capacity, but a lot of them do what you've done, which is turned to coaching, turn to education, and be a mentor, a coach, a teacher in those different aspects. And I think that your story represents those many Laurentians over many different class years, that have that similar story and background. And I really appreciate that we are not only a community of lifelong learners, as I jokingly mentioned earlier, we are a community of lifelong teachers as well. And oftentimes, people say that teaching is one of the best ways to learn. Do you find that, that is the case for you? Have you learned a lot through all those years, the 15 years worth of teaching? And then what you were able to do further in your career?
Jeff: Oh, absolutely. I think, as a teacher when you get excited about what you're teaching, you continue to learn as you dig more and more into what you're there to present and pass on, as a message to the kids in the classroom. But it is, it's great. It's a great disciplined profession. And I really enjoyed that time. My last job, for seven years when I moved to Maine, was to start a school.
Jeff: To start at private school, a ski academy. And we basically started from nothing. We had a number of families in Maine who were very excited about having their kids stay in Maine, and go to school and ski race, and not go to some of the other academies that were out there. So, we had great backers. We had a lot of support. The Sugarloaf community in Maine, is just an incredible community of people. And we were able to put together a program over the years, where we continue to increase our enrollment. And really, after two or three years, we were focusing on the full-time program. We went away from a winter term program. They're still doing very well today. Great leadership. And the headmaster of the school is a girl that I actually coached when she was 13, 14, and now she's done her circle in life. In fact, they're doing an incredible job.
Amelia: Well, that must be so rewarding to see that. That's really great [crosstalk 00:24:03] .
Amelia: Well, I want to jump ahead a little bit in your career. And so looking over your bio, you did so many things when you worked for the New York State Olympic Authority. And I'm really curious, what was your favorite part of that? What was the part that you loved the most?
Jeff: It was 21 years with the Olympic authority, and we put on a lot of events. We had 133 event days a year.
Jeff: You folks have been involved with events, and you know what that means in terms of working them. The crew that we had at the Olympic authority, were incredible. They were a wealth of knowledge and very organized, and we really got into this. And it really didn't matter whether you were working seven days or 12 hours or whatever, we did what we needed to do to have great events. And we had, probably, some of the relationships were different and fun. We had the first ever winter Goodwill Games, been in Australia and they'd been in New York, and this was a Ted Turner deal. And so, we took on this event. It was a four day event. It was a very small field of athletes in each one of the sports, but we did most of the winter sports.
Jeff: And so, it was a quick snapshot of a little Olympics, but a lot of TV time. What was great about it is, I think we had 32 hours of TV.
Jeff: So people got to know a little bit about Lake Placid. A little refresher from the time of the winter Olympics in 1980. So, the Goodwill Games was great. We also hosted the ESPN Great Outdoor Games, and this was a summer event. And I don't know whether you've ever seen it, but it went by the wayside, seven or eight years ago. But it was field dogs, it was chainsaws, it was axe chopping, it was log rolling, it was shooting. We hosted that event for two years. Their model was, we go somewhere for two years, and then we move on. After two years, we had a great relationship.
Jeff: Some of the folks said, well, we need to move to a venue where we will get more people. So we got the governor involved, and it was Governor Pataki at the time. And he was totally behind it. And we came up with what we needed to, to get them back for a third year, which was another tremendous year. And it brought a lot of people into Lake Placid for, if not a couple of days, even for a day. But the town is really hopping.
Jeff: So, it was a fun event. And unfortunately after it left here, it didn't continue to succeed. So we had a good event here. We probably could have kept it on for another 10 years, and had great support from people.
Beth: Too bad they didn't bring it back, to Lake Placid.
Jeff: I know. They went from here, to Reno Tahoe. And that was a one and done. And they went to Madison, Wisconsin, and that was a one and done. And so, they were trying to build on this two year model, and it didn't work.
Beth: Well, once you go Lake Placid, there's just nothing you can do, that's better than that.
Jeff: That's right.
Amelia: Yeah. It sounds way too Adirondacky. We got a message just now from Amanda, behind the scenes, letting us know that they were amazing games to be there in person for. So it sounds like Amanda was there.
Jeff: They were a lot of fun. What we've hung our hat on is, being able to continue to maintain quality, world competition venues. So we've had world cups every year, in a number of the sports. Freestyle skiing, which is aerials and moguls. Bobsled skeleton, on our track at Mt. Van Hoevenberg, luge. That's a big event.
Jeff: We've had some biathlon events, and we've had a number of skiing events. So, it's been good. And speed skating. So, it's great. I mean, this fall going into winter, we'll have, Olympic trials for ski jumping will be here.
Amelia: Very cool.
Jeff: That should be fun. And it's always, winter Olympics comes quickly, it's going to be six months from now.
Beth: Well, it's going to be even quicker this year, just because the summer Olympics were delayed a year. So instead of having two years in between these Olympics, we only have one year, not even.
Jeff: It's quick. And it's in a country that isn't known for it's winter sports, as much as it's known more of the summer sport. But the understanding is they're moving along, and the International Olympic Committee is a watchdog on venues and preparation.
Jeff: And as we just saw in Japan, they were supportive. The games worked. So, onto the next one.
Beth: Well, I do you think it's important that after you talk about all these wonderful events that you were able to help put on and were a big part of happening, that we congratulate you on the John Sinclair Award that you were just awarded a couple months ago, for your work with ORDA, and putting on these different events. Specifically, I believe this was for the skiing events that you were able to put on the Lake Placid areas. Is this correct?
Jeff: It's mostly focused in on skiing cross-country Alpine, and the freestyle disciplines. Yeah. We have great relationship with U. S Ski and Snowboard. Today, a number of my colleagues at ORDA, were very closely connected to their counterparts, in park city. So, we put on a lot of things. We did some great things moving forward. We enticed them to look at a team event in snowboarding. They did, and they really pushed it becoming an Olympic sport. So it's part of the Olympics.
Jeff: So, they were a good working partner. They worked with us, they came up with some money to help improve some of our venues. We're willing to commit. We needed some support. They came to the board and additionally, the U.S Olympic Committee has been a tremendous partner.
Amelia: As we wrap up a little bit here, I have a less serious and more fun question of, you've been living in the Adirondacks on and off, for most of your life. Of the four seasons at the Adirondacks, which is the best? This is a long standing debate with people I know. Is it the snow, for skiing? Is it the fall leaves? Kayaking in the summer? What's the best part of the Adirondacks?
Jeff: April, because it's muddy and -
Beth: I was just going to sit back and say -
Jeff: You don't see the sun a lot. No, actually you asked that, in my years when I was here coaching and teaching at Northwood, and also my year out of St. Lawrence, I loved April, because it meant kayaking season. The rain never bothered us, and we're hoping for more and more.
Jeff: Probably, hard to say what the best is. I mean, I love skiing and all of that, but I think the fall is just such a great time up here. Because it really is a time to relax at the end of the summer. And it's just so spectacular.
Beth: I've always felt that fall was the meta season because, especially up here and in the Adirondacks, you get elements of winter, it's probably going to snow a little bit, but you also weirdly still have some of those hot days. It's really beautiful to look around. You can do pretty much anything that you want to do, except for, I mean, you really do need more snow for this skiing portion.
Jeff: That's true.
Amelia: Sure. Although I have to say, I weirdly always get excited in April in that early spring, because it lets me know that winter is ending, and warmer days are ahead. And it's that season of anticipation, and it's so exciting to see. It's true, there's no season in the Adirondacks, that isn't beautiful and magnificent.
Jeff: Right. It's hard to say which one's the best. I mean, it is a four season community. And we've done a lot within the Olympic Authority, to weatherproof a lot of our venues. So that they can be accessed and used, on a 12 month basis. And we continue to find events to do in those off-season times. Because again, our partnership with the USOPC, U. S Olympic Paralympic Committee is so good that, we've been involved in boxing events and a number of different summer events, volleyball, as they come to this area. And we've even helped them put on some events here locally. So, it's good.
Beth: Well, thank you so much, Jeff, for joining us today. We really appreciate everything that you've done. Not only for the St. Lawrence community, but for the greater north country, Adirondack communities, especially Lake Placid, through your work with ORDA, and working with so many of the different winter sports. To help, like you said before, gain more funding for better facilities, for tourism, for these wonderful events that you've been able to put on, that support our Olympic athletes, and those that are hoping to continue on their careers. We really appreciate everything that you've done for us, and continued to do. Is there anything else that you wanted to add, for the listening ears of the Laurentian community?
Jeff: Well, sure. I'll put a plug in for the World University Games, in January of 2023. Lake Placid and the Adirondack region, will host the World University Games, Winter University Games. And it will be the feeling of a small Olympic games. Going to have a lot of athletes here, from a lot of different countries. I mean, all of the winter sports with the exception of bob sled and luge and skeleton, will be a part of this.
Jeff: So, we'll have ski jumping, we'll have whatever. And I think to date, there's over $500 million that have been spent on venue upgrades. And these upgrades are just incredible. A lot of what you see, is just fantastic. A lot of what you don't see, is very necessary in making the venues work. It's going to be an opportunity to continue on another 30 plus years to host events. So, it will be fun. It's going to be over basically, two weeks. And so, I hope people keep an eye on it. They do a great job with live streaming the event itself. And maybe even, it's worth a trip down here to take a look at it.
Amelia: Always worth a trip to Lake Placid.
Jeff: Yeah, absolutely.
Amelia: Well, thank you so much, Jeff. This has been a great time for us, and I hope for you as well.
Jeff: Great. It is. And thank you very much for all of the work that you're all doing. It's so important, and it really makes our network, what I consider, the best anywhere. I think we all feel that. Honestly, we have some opportunities to help a lot of people out, and make the right connections. So, thank you.
Beth: Thank you so much, Jeff.
Jeff: Good luck.
[Short Music Interlude]
Beth: Well, there you have it. Another wonderful interview in the books, Amelia. I had such a good time talking with Jeff. What were some of the highlights that you have had throughout the entirety of the interview?
Amelia: Oh my goodness. I think one of the things that really stuck with me, was the way that Jeff has this desire to share his knowledge and his insights that he's gained as an athlete, overcoming challenges, learning to win and to lose, and how he really seems to have a passion for sharing that with so many people. And I think that, that's such an example of the kinds of people that Laurentians are. They are people that want to share and impact lives, in whatever ways they can.
Beth: I really appreciate hearing his perspective on how, your plan B becomes your plan A, a lot of the time. And how to best prepare for that. I love just how connected he is to St. Lawrence, and the ways in which that he has tried to make connections within the St. Lawrence community. We always talk about how we have one of the best alum networks in the nation, and it's because of people like Jeff, who really go out of their way to connect the people that he thinks could be beneficial for each other, in their lives. And also, reconvene with the people that have been important throughout his entire life.
Amelia: Yeah, that was fantastic. So another great episode, and we have another one coming up in October. We'll be taking a little stroll down memory lane in archives. And so, we're excited to hear some historical stories for our October episode.
Beth: Maybe a ghost story, or two.
Amelia: Maybe. It is October. We are excited, and hope that you join us next time for another episode of Scarlet & Brown Stories. Till then.
[Podcast theme music plays over credits.]
Beth: Scarlet & Brown Stories is edited and produced by Amanda Brewer, Meghan Fry Dozier, Dennis Morreale, Beth Dixon and Amelia Jantzi.
Amelia: Our music was written by Christopher Watts, inspired by Eugene Wright, class of '49.
Beth: Subscribe to Scarlet & Brown stories on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you listen to podcasts.
Amelia: If you have a story you'd like to submit to us, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amelia: Don't forget to subscribe, like and leave your five star review, wherever you listen to podcasts.