VOL. LIV, NO. 77
California State University, Long Beach February 24, 2004


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. News  

Professor heads Special Olympics

By Jeanette Prather
Daily Forty-Niner

Every year thousands of athletes, volunteers and spectators get involved with the Special Olympics of Southern California. This year the adjunct professor of sport management at Cal State Long Beach, Bob Gobrecht, was appointed the president and chief executive officer of the Olympics, in charge of overseeing and directing all these participants and volunteers.

Gobrecht sent in his application along with a couple hundred other qualified candidates, but his extensive background in sports and community involvement won him the position. He gives credit to CSULB’s director of student athletics, Bill Shumard, in assisting him with this process.

“The Special Olympics is the purest form of sports left,” Gobrecht said, “and I am privileged to get a chance to be involved with them.”

Gobrecht has worked as a sport executive for more than 25 years with various teams such as the Anaheim Angels, the Seattle Mariners, the Walt Disney Company, IEG and Seattle Seafair, but claims that the dedication and endurance demonstrated through the Special Olympics is incomparable.

“It’s a life-changing experience for both the athletes and volunteers,” Gobrecht said, “[the athletes] get to express their energy and potentials through the joy and fun of competition.”

Gobrecht said he enjoys his new position as president and chief executive officer and said that the emotional dividend resulting from this work is worth more than any amount of money, “it’s what makes you cry and why the volunteers come back year after year.”

Gobrecht originally earned his bachelor’s of science and master’s of business administration from USC, and immediately after graduation, volunteered for the Peace Corps in Samoa. He helped the minister of finance for the government of Samoa and taught on economic issues and treasury grants. In his spare time, Gobrecht coached and taught sports.

“I’ve always been one to serve my community first,” Gobrecht said, having had plenty experiences serving his community. His experience includes working through IEG, an international consulting organization, conducting Special Olympic sponsorships for the National Program leaders in over 100 countries. In addition, Gobrecht has also been a consultant to Special Olympics Inc.

“I enjoyed working as a sport executive for teams but this is more fulfilling,” Gobrecht said, referring back to his newly appointed position of president and chief executive officer of the Special Olympics of Southern California, “even though I got good pay and didn’t go home as tired as I do now, this is complete and rewarding. I love it.”

The athletes range from 10 to 50 years in age, with the bulk between 15 and 30. According to Gobrecht, there are about half a million people in Southern California with disabilities, and the Special Olympics of Southern California provides sports training and competition for 23 individual team sports.

“The purpose of the Special Olympics is to provide year-round training for athletes, to keep them focused, and for them to reach their potentials,” Gobrecht said, “it’s all about competition and people trying their best.”





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