July 11, 2012
By Mike Killeen
It was a simple piece of advice, given to Glen Werner Roseboom at a College of Saint Benedict basketball game in 1995.
But it changed her life and career - from social work to sports management, and ultimately led her to the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center (OTC).
These days, the 1993 CSB graduate and former Blazers' basketball player is director of the OTC, helping athletes prepare for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, which begin July 27 in London. She's been director of the 35-acre facility since 2007.
But she would have never dreamt of doing that back in 1995. She was a social worker/counselor in the Ashby and Underwood schools near Fergus Falls, Minn.
"I was contemplating going back to school to improve my ability to make it on my own. I was stuck on what to study," Roseboom recalled. "Should I pursue a master's degree in social work or in sports?"
She was standing against the top rail on the mezzanine at Claire Lynch Hall, an unusual place for Roseboom to watch a game. "I had just finished asking Dr. John Merkle (professor of theology at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University) what he thought I should do when Jim McConnell (former CSB softball coach who worked on the admission staff at CSB and SJU) walked up for a hug.
"Dr. Merkle told him about our conversation and Mac gave me the advice of a lifetime. It was so simple. He said pursue whatever I wanted to be knee-deep in for the rest of my life. That was it," Roseboom said.
"I made the decision right there. It was broken down exactly how coaches do things, simply. I gave notice at my job and enrolled in a graduate program for sports management (at Northern Illinois University)," Roseboom said. "Two years later, I landed my first position with the United States Olympic Committee and began a 15-year journey with the Olympic Training Center."
The Colorado Springs OTC is one of three Olympic Training Centers in the country. The Colorado Springs facility has 512 beds and supports 11 resident sports: shooting, Paralympic swimming, Paralympic judo, Paralympic cycling, weightlifting, wrestling, triathlon, men's artistic gymnastics, Paralympic skiing, modern pentathlon and men's epee fencing. Roseboom oversees eight departments with 52 staff and 36 temporary staff.
"I think the variety and daily challenges are the exact reason I have stayed with the United States Olympic Committee at the Training Center for 15 years," Roseboom said. "It's an incredibly exciting place to be each day and it brings me so much joy. To be around sports and the intensity it brings is the greatest way I can imagine to earn a paycheck."
For instance, on a recent day, Roseboom met to pick concrete colors for a new stairway at the Visitor's Center; discussed discipline for an athlete leaving a resident program, determined pricing for an event with USA Volleyball and outstanding invoice balances with the finance department; and attended a scheduling meeting to discuss programming for the first quarter of 2013.
Busy? You bet. Complaining? No way.
"I'm not sure I would do anything to change that - I enjoy pressure and challenges," Roseboom said. "There is no off-season since athletes and coaches do their really hard work and preparation in their calendar off-seasons, and seasons are different depending on the sport."
Roseboom, a native of Cannon Falls, Minn., played basketball for four seasons at CSB. She was the Blazers' captain for her final two seasons from 1991-93. The 1992-93 squad, which won its first 28 games in a row and reached the NCAA Division III Final Four, is in the Blazers' Hall of Fame.
"Thank goodness I had the good fortune to play basketball at Saint Ben's and be a part of the Rowing Club," Roseboom said. "The basketball team was the reason I was able to navigate college life so easily. It also prepared me well to begin working. I attribute much of my success to being on the team and having incredibly caring coaches in Mike (Durbin) and Denny (Johnson) as equally as having the best set of parents in the world."
"I wish I could adequately describe what my experiences at Saint Ben's did for my career as a whole, and not just my current position," said Roseboom, who majored in social work at CSB. "With perfect hindsight, it's easy to look back and mark the moments and experiences that really mattered. But simply stated, it's the moments as a collective that led me to the point I am today.
"The things that matter most were learning to build lasting relationships, to compete in the classroom for a grade or earning an internship. It was also becoming a hungry learner that led to being a curious professional. It's all of that. Mike Durbin often talked about being a 'student of the game,' which applies well to any profession. That advice has served me well the last two decades."
Roseboom will be attending the London Games - keeping alive a personal streak of Olympics attended that goes back to 2002. She is also overseeing a $20 million renovation project at the OTC.
Roseboom will also be part of a homecoming of sorts when the Blazers' basketball team plays in a four-team tournament at Colorado College Nov. 16-17 at Colorado Springs. She is hosting a reception for the team and area alumnae at the OTC."I'm expecting a great weekend together," Roseboom said. "As a sophomore, we made the same trip to Colorado Springs in 1990. I would have never guessed that a weekend trip to Colorado would have made the impact it did. It was a dream to make my way to Colorado, where I've made my home for 15 years."