NetWorks Sports: In Their Own Words with Olympic Gold Medalist Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, Chief of Sport Performance – USA Track & Field

In Their Own Words profiles former student-athletes who have leveraged their experiences on the field, court, and in the pool to buoy their professional careers. They’ve had success in the classroom & in their sport, and now are enjoying tremendous success in various sectors around the world.

In Their Own Words with Benita Fitzgerald Mosley

Benita Fitzgerald Mosley - Chief of Sport Performance, USA Track & Field

A native of Northern Virginia, Benita Fitzgerald Mosley has leveraged her success in the classroom (majored in Industrial Engineering at the University of Tennessee) and on the track (as a student-athlete at Tennessee in addition to being a Gold Medalist in the 1984 Summer Olympics) to launch quite an impressive career where she has had widespread influence on a global platform.

Benita has always been a leader and influential voice amongst her peers, so it wasn’t a surprise that after participant on a committee aimed at assessing the current state of USA Track & Field, she was called to take the lead in helping to bring back the sport to the level of success we all had witness when she was wearing the red, white, and blue in Los Angeles back in 1984.

Her career now comes full-circle as she takes on a newly created role with USA Track & Field as Chief of Sports Performance.  A role that will undoubtedly play a huge role in the performance of the track & field team as we approach the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

What is your current title and how long have you been in this position?
I am the Chief of Sport Performance for USA Track & Field and have been in this position with USATF for two years.

Specifically what do you do in this role with your organization?
Lead innovation, strategy, programs and policy to boost the performance of the World’s #1 track and field team. Manage $10 million budget for all national teams and high performance programs to support the USA’s elite track and field athletes. Reporting directly to the CEO, areas of responsibility include: athlete services, coaching education, sports science and medicine, anti-doping, Team USA management, grants, domestic and international competitive opportunities, National Championships, training centers, and U.S. Olympic Committee and sponsor partnership liaison. Lead Team USA to the Olympic Games, World Championships, Pan American Games, and other major international competitons.

What is your favorite part of the job?
Interacting with the athletes and knowing my hard work (and that of my staff) pays great dividends for Team USA at major international competitions like the World Championships and Olympic Games. 

What was your first “REAL” job?
I worked part-time as an Industrial Engineer for Tracor Aerospace in Austin, Texas while I was training for the 1988 Olympic Games.

Has being a competitive athlete helped you in your current role or during your career? If so, please tell us in what ways.
My ability to set high goals and focus on achieving them has been a great asset to me in my career. In my current role, my experience as a world-class athlete allows me to have an innate knowledge of what it takes to help our athletes reach their own goals and have successful careers.

What do you miss and what don’t you miss about being a competitive athlete?
I definitely miss that rockin’ body!!! I took it all for granted when I had it, and now as a middle-aged mom of two, it’s hard to believe I ever looked like that. I certainly don’t miss the difficult workouts, and the ice baths…yikes!!

What was your most memorable moment as an athlete? What was your most embarrassing moment?
Winning the Olympic gold medal was definitely my most cherished moment. My most embarrassing moment was in high school. Let’s just say I left it all out on the track at the end of a race at the state championships!

How often do you workout? What type of things do you do to stay active?
I work out two to four times a week, and I mostly power walk or jog. I like to feel the sun and breathe the fresh air…all those years running outside around that track spoiled me, so I don’t like to go to the gym.

Do you have a mentor (or mentors) who has helped you along the way?
Yes, my parents first and foremost, my husband of 15 years, my coaches, and my bosses at various jobs. There have also been people like Anita DeFrantz (Olympic medalist and IOC member), Gerry Laybourne (Founder of Oxygen and Nickleodeon), Decker Anstrom (former CEO of Weather Channel), Dr. Carole Stovall (Executive Coach) and many more that have taken a strong interest in me and have shared a lot of great wisdom and advice along the way. I also take advice from books, my pastor’s sermons, leadership seminars, etc.

If you knew then what you know now, is there anything that you would do differently in your career?
I wouldn’t change a thing. I think that my career has been guided by divine intervention and a lot of great mentors, and I’m blessed to have had a varied and fulfilling career path. Even the mistakes I’ve made and the difficult times I’ve endured have somehow better prepared me for the next challenge or opportunity.

Who has had the biggest influence on your life?
My parents. They’re amazing human beings and I love them dearly for laying such a solid foundation for my sister and me and for always being there to provide their support and encouragement.

Do you have any advice for young professionals and/or former student-athletes hoping to have a successful career after sports?
Student athletes should take advantage of the rare access they have to prominent alumni, school officials, community leaders, and the media and use it to their advantage. They should always represent themselves and their school in the most positive light so that when the need or opportunity arises, you can always count on their support. I call my gold medal “the gift that keeps on giving” because many of the good things in my life can somehow be traced back to my participation in sports. I was blessed with the talent to run fast, but it was hard work and good decisions along the way that have helped me achieve success both on and off the track.

Favorite Book: Too many to name, but the latest is “The Help”

Favorite Movie: The Game

Hobbies: Spending time with my family and friends, Reading

Favorite Place to Vacation: Hawaii, Outer Banks, any place warm

What’s playing on your iPod? Mostly R&B…I’m old school. I also like a bit of gospel, and some of the more popular songs by female artists like Beyonce, Adele, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, etc.

Android or iPhone? Definitely, iPhone

Mac or PC? Both…PC for work, Mac at home

Favorite TV Show: The Good Wife, The Sing Off

Favorite Restaurant: PF Chang’s

Favorite Quote: Ecclesiastes 3:1. “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

 

Find out more about Benita and USA Track & Field at the USATF website www.usatf.org

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