When Denise Shively isn’t teaching public relations or chairing the Integrative Studies program at Otterbein, she’s at the swimming pool. She’s not working on her tan; she is coaching the Columbus Coralinas synchronized swimming team and managing the U.S. Synchronized Swimming Team, including a duet who competed in the 2012 London Olympics.
Shively was coaching the Columbus Coralinas, an age-group synchronized swimming team in central Ohio, when she attended a training session on international team management at a national conference. So when the call came from the national team, she was prepared to answer it.
“In 2003, I received a call from the national team director asking me if I would be interested in serving as manager for our Junior National Team and National Team II, as they were going to an international meet in Seattle. I was familiar with the pool and the competition, so I agreed and that was my start,” she said. “The next year, the junior team was to attend the Junior World Championships and I had worked with the coach the previous year, so we just kept working together. She eventually became the coach of the 2008 Olympic team.”
As manager of the national team, she oversees administrative and logistical duties. “During the years prior to the Olympic Games, I serve as the manager for the national team and assist them in logistics and coordinating details in advance of any international competitions — World Championships, World Cup, Trophy Cup, Pan American Games, etc. Basically, I complete all the paperwork such as entries, housing and transportation forms, visa applications as needed. I also work to complete all the travel arrangements and make arrangements for practice times if the team would travel to a country several days in advance of the competition,” she said.
Shively also uses her public relations skills for the benefit of the team. “At the competition, I represent the team at all the meetings and official functions. In many situations, if we do not have a media relations person with us, I will assist with responding to media inquiries and setting up interviews with our athletes and coaches.”
Shively has traveled to international competitions in Australia, Brazil, Italy, Japan and Switzerland. But her highest profile trip with the team was to China for the 2008 Olympics.
“It was a lot of work and the days of training and preparing for all of us were long,” she said of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. “But to be there representing the USA to the world is something that cannot be duplicated. And, getting to know people as individuals helps all of us to promote understanding.”
While politics may be at play on the world scene, the world of synchronized swimming actually brings cultures together. “We have been well-received around the world. Many times we have volunteers assigned to us who assist as translators and they always tell me how working with our group helped them understand how kind Americans can be. We have a great group of athletes and we are always focused on building solid, meaningful relationships with the hosts,” Shively said.
“At the 2007 Pan American Games, there was some concern there would be anti-American sentiment in Rio. However, we have great friends with the Brazilian synchronized swimming team, and during the parade of athletes, our team carried U.S. and Brazilian flags and we had a very warm reception,” she said. “In the 2008 Olympic Games, our athletes had a banner that read ‘Thank you China’ in Chinese that they carried on the podium. (It was) very well received.”
This year, a duet from the national team qualified for the 2012 London Olympics. Although she was not at the Olympic games, Shively was cheering them on at the qualifying competition in London in April and at a training camp in Ireland just weeks before the Olympics.
Shively holds a “National Judges” rating and has served on several national committees, including event management and championship sites. She has coached many synchronized swimmers on the Columbus Coralinas team who have gone on to compete at the college and national level or work as synchronized swimming coaches themselves.
Other Otterbein employees with connections to the Olympics include Assistant Professor Bruce Mandeville, Equine Science, who competed in two Olympic Games (Sidney in 2000 and Athens in 2004), two World Championships and two Pan American Games as a member of the Canadian Equestrian Team, and Sports Information Director Ed Syguda, who worked behind the scenes at the Atlanta (1996) and Salt Lake (2002) Olympics.
Alumni who were in London, whether as a resident or attending the Olympic games, can send stories and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.