University of Texas at Austin Explores its Tradition of Olympic Athletes

Oct. 28, 2011

Event: The University of Texas at Austin has a deep tradition of athletics beyond football, baseball and basketball. Longhorn swimmers, divers and track and field athletes have made names for themselves beyond Texas on the national and international stages via the Olympics. From 1936 to 2010, 139 University of Texas at Austin student athletes have won 117 Olympic medals (57 gold, 30 silver and 16 bronze).

In conjunction with UT Athletics’ honoring its former student athletes/Olympians before the Oct. 29 home football game, the T Association, the university’s association of former letter winners, and the Texas Program in Sports and Media are sponsoring a series of three panel discussions. The dialogue will feature University of Texas at Austin Olympian-alumni on a variety of topics as diverse as the university's Olympic legacy, ethics in sports and the “identity shift” required to make the jump from top-ranked collegian to world-class athlete.

All events will be held Friday, Oct. 28.

When: 11:00 a.m.-noon.
Where: NEZ 5.700
What: "UT’s Olympic Legacy"
Donna de Varona, an Olympian and Olympic commentator, moderates a panel featuring Richard Duncan (track and field), Aaron Peirsol (swimming), Cynthea Rhodes Patterson (track and field), Carlette Guidry Falkquay (track and field) and Whitney Hedgepeth (swimming). Discussion will center on how they and others have helped to establish UT's Olympic legacy and the opportunity that presents for both the athletic and academic sides of campus. This discussion is hosted by the Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports.

When: 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Where: CMA 5.106
What: "Making the Leap … Collegian to Olympian"
Steven Ungerleider, a sports psychologist, moderates a panel featuring Eddie Southern (track and field), Winthrop Graham (track and field), Garrett Weber-Gale (swimming), Neil Walker (swimming) and Jill Sterkel (swimming). Discussion will center on how concerns related to individual identity manifested through their development into world-class athletes and how those experiences have shaped the other dimensions of their lives. This discussion is hosted by the Texas Sports Group.

When: 3-4 p.m.
Where: SAC 2.302
What: "20/20 Hindsight: How UTexas Prepared Me"
De Varona moderates a panel featuring Johnny "Lam" Jones (track and field), Andrea Lloyd (basketball), Tracey McFarlane (swimming), Josh Davis (swimming) and Brendan Hansen (swimming). Discussion will center on how the UT culture, both athletic and academic, created a platform that enables its most successful students to excel among world-class competition. This discussion is hosted by the Texas Program in Sports and Media.

Background: For the first time, Longhorn Olympians from numerous decades and sports will convene on campus to share their points of view on topics such as how their university experience prepared them for the pressures of the world stage and what it means to be an "Olympian," as well as issues of identity and what the Olympics mean now compared with previous decades.

The Texas Program in Sports and Media fosters interdisciplinary dialogue and research on sports, media and culture. It unites two programming initiatives — the Richard W. Pound Olympic Archive Collection and the McGarr Symposium on Journalism and Society — and two curriculum initiatives — the Sports Publicity Project and the sports journalism curriculum. It also is a resource center for faculty members and students conducting applied and theoretical research related to sports, media and society.

For more information, contact: Christopher Hart, 512-471-2431.