Christa Mann is dreaming of Olympic gold, silver and bronze medals these days. Not for herself, mind you, but for all the members of Team USA that will be competing in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London from July 27-August 12.
As Coordinator, Marketing Communications with the United States Olympic Committee based in Colorado Springs, the former GSU student-athlete (2008) has her sleeves rolled up promoting U.S. Olympic hopefuls and nominees.
"These are the greatest athletes in the world, so it's hard to put into words what it means to contribute to a small part of their dreams." Mann said of her behind-the-scenes role with the USOC. "This is such a special opportunity for me because I can still combine my love for sport and media while supporting so many accomplished, world-class athletes."
One of the strengths of most of the USOC staff is being able to wear different hats for different roles where needed. Mann fits right into that versatility with her background of three years with pro soccer and the Atlanta Beat, hosting the World Professional Soccer All-Star game on the Beat's home field and providing marketing and communications efforts. She's done TV work as an analyst for college women's soccer and had interned at WXIA-TV here in Atlanta. Her broad-based background also includes internships at Turner Sports and with the Atlanta Falcons.
Mann served as a team captain for the GSU soccer teams and went on to play a year of professional soccer in Iceland after graduating in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She had starred at McIntosh High in Peachtree City, Ga. before enrolling at Georgia State.
"I think I pinch myself every day when I realize what I am doing," Mann stated. "I am willing to do whatever is asked of me, and I love the fast-paced environment. There is a lot of multi-tasking between publicizing community programs and scheduling logistics for media events. There's plenty of research, plenty of planning and strategic goals. We help coordinate the athletes' media opportunities, but that will be a little different from my role in London".
With an engaging and outgoing personality, Mann is comfortable being in the inner circle of the athletes and coaches. She recently returned from the 2012 Team USA Media Summit in Dallas in mid-May. "We had photo sessions with nationally-based photographers and some of the athletes, Mann said." I had the chance to work with and chat with Atlanta native Maya Moore of the U.S. Olympic women's basketball team. I was at Georgia State interning with Sam Crenshaw at 11 Alive (NBC affiliate) when Maya was in her senior year at Collins Hill as the national Naismith Player of the Year. So, we could easily chat about our favorite Atlanta neighborhoods and restaurants. I also had the opportunity to greet another Georgian, basketball great Teresa Edwards, who is the USOC's Chef de Mission. I still remember looking up to stars like her as role models, so it was great to meet such a humble and easy-going person."
While in Dallas for that event, Mann got to catch up with another former GSU soccer captain, Candace Gonzales (GSU, '09). "Candace is doing great with Golin-Harris Public Relations, working with clients like Texas Instruments and PetSmart. We both are proud of Georgia State and enjoyed our time as student-athletes, taking advantage of all the opportunities to learn on campus and in the big city."
Mann will eventually be packing the personal suitcases and heading to London in mid-July to continue working her duties with the USOC before the Olympics Opening Ceremonies on July 27. Mann will stay through all of the Olympics and then several days after the Closing Ceremonies on August 12 into mid-August to finish up her tasks. "This is going to be another lifelong memory that will be a lot of work, but oh so much fun," Mann knows.
The 26-year old Mann did some telephone interviews with the USOC in February and flew out to Colorado Springs for an in-person interview. By March 15, Mann and her supportive mother had loaded up the car and headed to Colorado to move her into an apartment to start her new job. "The initial feeling of seeing the incredible Olympic Training Facility and actually eating in the athlete's dining hall was awesome," Mann remembered. "Working in the downtown headquarters office is a lot like the Turner offices in Atlanta. Colorado Springs is such a pretty area with the Air Force Academy, Pikes Peak and all the mountains."
"I feel like working at the USOC in communications is where I am supposed to be," Mann said. "I really just get to be myself and relate with a lot of people who have had similar athletic pasts. Originally, I thought being a sports broadcaster or TV talent was what I would like best, but after several years of the marketing, promotions and PR, I can't image being more fulfilled doing anything else."
It is not suggested that you immediately contact Mann for free Olympic tickets, Olympic pins or souvenirs, but if you want to keep up with Mann and her Olympic endeavors supporting Team USA, just follow along on her twitter account @TheChristaMann.