Iowa State alumna helps Olympic and Paralympic athletes stay on track

Jacquelyn Luedtke knows firsthand that it takes world-class event management skills to organize world-class sporting events.

Luedtke, who graduated in 2013 with a degree in event management, now works as full-time operations coordinator for the United States Olympic Committee at its flagship training facility in Colorado Springs. She helps organize housing, food, transportation, training facilities,and other services for athletes and their coaches.

The complex can accommodate more than 500 athletes and coaches at one time. Whether it’s organizing practice schedules for Olympic gymnasts or arranging housing for wheelchair basketball teams, Luedtke has to know what each athlete needs to perform at their best.

“There is no typical day,” she said.

A state-of-the-art facility

The Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center, which rests on a 35-acre complex near downtown Colorado Springs, offers sport venues and support facilities for fencing, gymnastics, judo, modern pentathlon, shooting, swimming, taekwondo, weightlifting, wrestling and many other Olympic and Paralympic sports.

The facility also includes a state-of-the-art sports medicine and sport science center, an athletic center with a dining hall, and multiple residence halls.

Luedtke has been with the USOC for over a year and half now, starting as an operations intern and moving up to full time operations coordinator. She coordinates the logistics for more than 150 Olympic and Paralympic programs or events each year.

“It’s truly eye opening just how much energy and work goes into supporting both Olympic and Paralympic athletes on a daily basis,” she said. “I’m really just a small part in the grand scheme of things.”

Big plans for the future

This summer, she’s off to Toronto for her first international games assignment. She’ll be behind the scenes for Parapan American Games, which serve as the qualifiers for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for some sports.

Luedtke, who’s been passionate about sports all her life, discovered her enthusiasm for event management after working for Iowa State’s Recreation Department. She credits her Iowa State experience with equipping her for the pressures of helping Olympic and Paralympic athletes stay on track.

“Iowa State gave me a chance to be hands-on,” she said. “It made me want more. There are so many amazing opportunities for students.”

“Jackie was one of the most hard-working, positive, and dedicated students I’ve had the pleasure of working with,” said Jamie Beyer, lecturer in apparel, events, and hospitality management. “She is truly an exemplary role model for events students.”

Luedtke hopes to move into a more international relations role- organizing the Olympic or Paralympic Games for Team USA in a more hands-on way.

“The sky’s the limit in event management,” she said.