An Athlete In A Clown Suit
Oct 15, 2012Posted by james

Many stories of hard work, sacrifice, joy and tears flowed from the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Some of the young faces will be seen again for another and maybe several more Olympics, while others, especially those who did not stand on the winners’ podiums, will recede to the background and fade from memory.

What becomes of them? One story you may not have heard about involves a 48-year-old gymnast from Great Britain who now wears a clown suit.

Terry Bartlett competed in three Olympic Games. He performed on all the gymnastic apparatus but never won a medal. Today, and for the last 20 years, he has performed with a red nose and floppy shoes 10 times a week in a Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil show.

Cirque has hired many former Olympians over the years. They have defined talents that allow them to leap, tumble, flip and swing, and occasionally sing and dance when needed. They bring a level of skill and work ethic that is central to Cirque’s productions.

Bartlett has been in his post-Olympics career for 20 years now. He started when he was 28 after the 1992 games. Two of his teammates became teachers and another two joined the military. He decided to take what he learned for most of his life and turn it into a professional career. He probably had second thoughts at his audition when the casting director asked him to make monkey noises.

Not every Olympian sticks with the circus show. But for those who do, salaries range from $50,000 to hundreds of thousands for people with special talents.

For Bartlett and the many others who have made the leap from Olympians to Cirque performers, the conversion does have unique challenges. They include classes for acting, dancing, voice work and improvisation.

Maybe not what an Olympic athlete had in mind during all those youthful years of training. But, the hard work, sacrifice, joy and, yes, the tears, did pay off. For some, it did not include a medal. But for most, it did lead to a good living.


Never Too Old To Be In The Game
Oct 01, 2012Posted by james

Roger Clemens has put together quite the resume over his 24-year Major League Baseball career.  A two time world champion, he received seven Cy Young awards and he currently ranks third on MLB’s all-time strikeout list.  After the 2007 season, the then 45-year-old Clemens finally decided to hang up his uniform to spend more time with his family.

But he couldn’t remain idle.  As with many athletes, Clemens is “married” to the game.  It is who he is as a person.  No matter the level of competition, professional or a pick-up league, athletes such as Clemens just have the game in their blood.

Clemens now is 50 years old, and he decided that he had enough of “retirement.” Agreeing to a one-year contract with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League, the “Rocket” recently made a comeback.  In his first start during August, Clemens didn’t allow a run while pitching three and one-third innings.  The most impressive stat was, at Clemens’ age,that he was able to reach 87 MPH on the radar gun.

It is clear Clemens did not come back to the game for the money or the publicity. Neither is found in an independent league. Clemens decided to come back for the passion of the game.  This is his “profession.”  It is what he loves to do.  He felt that he could still compete, and he wanted to try at least one more time.

It never is too late for anyone to get back into his or her game. Whether your career path was sports or business, if the work always had been enjoyable to you, then, with a few adjustments, you can make a comeback and again find satisfaction and success.

You are never too old to compete, even when your skills are out-of-date or a bit rusty. You just may need to reinvent yourself. That is what I did with my passion for lacrosse. While I have been very successful in business for more than 30 years after playing lacrosse in high school and college, a few years ago I decided that I missed the game of my youth. Since then, I have worked with and supported today’s athletes through programs at my alma maters of Hofstra and Half Hollow Hills High School East in Dix Hills.

If you have retained the passion for what you once did, and if the flame of desire keeps burning inside you, there always is the opportunity for you to find a way to remain in the game.