UW Health Sports Medicine 

Olympic Q & A: Rowing's Elpi Pagitsas



As the 2008 Olympics quickly approach, many Badger fans are starting to add a little blue to their red and white wardrobe. This year the Badgers will personally serve their country by sending two rowers, one coach and one manager to Beijing to compete in Rowing. Elpi Pagitsas, a former UW women's rower, is in the midst of coordinating the entire USA rowing teams trip to China. Read to find out more about her role.

What is your role going to be in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing
I am actually going to be the team manager. I am in charge of all the logistics of the Olympic Games involving our rowing athletes. Thats everything from flight, itinerary, housing, team processing in San Jose, the boat logistics, shipping our boats in a container, gear packages, medal ceremony, making sure everyone is where they are supposed to beall of the above.

Sounds like you have your hands full.
Yes, its really busy right now.

How do you think your experience rowing and coaching at Madison will help you
Well I was the team captain when I was in Madison on the rowing team so Im use to a pretty large team and working and organizing those kinds of people. It has come pretty naturally and the Olympic team is actually smaller than then team I was on at Madison, believe it or not. When I was on the team freshman year we had tryouts and I want to say there was a group of 250 women trying out. We kept on cutting and cutting until we got to our final roster for the freshman team, which was about 35 women. When you combine the lightweight and the varsity men, it was just as large as the Olympic team we have now.

How many are on the Olympic team
We have 45 competing Olympic athletes, nine alternates, and then including all of our staffyou know physical therapy, medical, we have a translator, assistant team manager for mewe have about 80. Yeah, lots of people to manage.

Were you involved with the Olympics in 2004
Yes, I was the assistant team manager. Then at the Pan-American games last year I was the team manager, in Rio. When we dont have the Olympics or the Pan-American games we have the World Championships. So Ive been doing that. In 2004 it was the Olympics; in 2005 I did the senior World Championships, the junior World Championships and the U-23 World Championships; in `06 I did all three teams, and then in `07 I did all three teams and Rio. And in 2008 all that too, plus the Olympics!

You sound like the head coordinator for everything rowing. What goals do you have for this upcoming Olympics
Well my priority is making sure we have a really safe and positive experience. I think the medal count is really up to the athletes at this point; I can really only support them.

What do you personally hope to gain from this experience
I think what Im looking forward to is seeing all the plans Ive been working on for the past three years unfold in front of me and actually become successful. So really just making sure all the plans we put in place are followed through on and that we actually see the fruits of our labor, so to speak, of what Ive been working on this whole time.

Are you going to be able to get in any sightseeing in
I hope so! This is actually my sixth time going to Beijing and I havent even seen the Great Wall yet, so I better! Im not going back there, I think, so Id really like to get up there.

Can you talk about your experience on the Wisconsin rowing team
I had a great experience. I think the best thing about Madison is that they really love their sports teams. I mean the UW really loves every single sport that comes through there and they are extremely supportive. I think thats what blew me away. I visited other schools and they werent nearly as supportive, especially academically, so thats why I chose Madison. I came from the East Coast, Boston area, and I had never been to the Midwest. I didnt know anything about it, and I didnt know what to expect. I really lucked out; Madisons got everything. Its got the restaurants, the stores, the Capitol, there is just a little bit of everything there. I think when I started rowing there it really helped to have the backing of the school, the great city and the really great program. Madison had lots of people to choose from; sports are huge in the Midwest so we had a lot of talented athletes. I think it showed because by the end of my senior year a lot of the recruits didnt make it but a lot of the walk-ons became really talented athletes; I mean how often does that happen

How many Badgers will be competing on this year's team
We have a couple of Badgers who are going to be on the actual team competing. Theres Micah Boyd and he is making his first Olympic team and Beau Hoopman whos making his second Olympic team. We also have Matt Imes, who is currently the U.S. mens assistant coach and will be promoted to High Performance Director of our program after the Olympics, as the Assistant Coach and Administrative Manager. So there is quite a few of us out there.

Well you better bring your badger gear!
I know, seriously I will!

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