In 2010, while a junior at the University of South Carolina, Colvin Hedgepeth applied for an internship with the United States Olympic Committee. While she didn't get it then, Hedgepeth applied for the same internship four years later, and the second time proved to be the charm.
Working in the Olympics was a career dream for Hedgepeth, a former standout for the Gamecock equestrian team from 2008-11 who captained the Hunt Seat team her senior year. After receiving the opportunity to work for the USOC, Hedgepeth has made another dream come true this summer by traveling to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Hedgepeth is a meeting and event services coordinator for the USOC, and she works within the marketing department to help plan and execute flagship events like the annual Olympic and Paralympic Assembly, 100 Days Out, NBC Promo Shoot and Media Summit events. During the Olympics, Hedgepeth's team is responsible for taking care of Team USA athletes in the USA House, which is the main hospitality and business center for the athletes.
"Outside of the Games, our five-person team takes on a wide variety of event projects, coordinating details such as hotel accommodations, catering, floral, entertainment and event logistics," Hedgepeth said.
It's been an incredibly busy and memorable journey so far for Hedgepeth, who acquired a public relations degree while in college. Her experience as a student-athlete helped prepare her to get her dream job.
"Being a student-athlete has been the driving force for my passion in sports," Hedgepeth said. "The impact of sport as a constant influence in my life has driven me to continually strive to be the best possible version of myself, and that's what I want to instill on others. Beyond the passion for sports I gained from competing in college, I am also able to apply time management, teamwork and leadership skills in my current role with USOC."
Furthermore, her four-year experience competing in collegiate equestrian has specifically helped prepare her for the many challenges and problem-solving skills she must have as meeting and event services coordinator. In equestrian, concentration and execution is key, in addition to being able to learn on the run and make quick adjustments.
"Composure is an element of equestrian that I try to translate from my riding days into my professional life," Hedgepeth said. "With such a short time to get to know each new horse prior to competing, I had to work very hard in college to remain unaffected by any challenges or hiccups I faced. In the 'real world,' new challenges constantly pop up and I must channel that meditative approach to maintain my cool."
While down in Rio, Hedgepeth has been able knock a few items off her wish list, including watching swimming, beach volleyball and tennis. She has watched Olympic equestrian jumping on television ever since she was little, and is planning on going to watch the team jumping finals.
The trip has obviously given Hedgepeth a lot of work to do, but her interactions with Olympic staff and athletes has been something she'll always remember, and it likely wouldn't have been possible without the lessons she learned as an equestrian student-athlete.
"The experience has been incomparable," Hedgepeth said of her time with the USOC in Rio. "Everyone involved with the organization is the best of the best, and each interaction with an athlete, whether it be in competition or conversation, reignites the inspiration I have for sport."