Bill Kellick, '89: An Olympic Career
August 28, 2012 by Lisa McMahon, MA'09
Bill Kellick, '89, fell in love with the Olympics in 1984. Just 12 years later, he was working for them.
The communication studies major, who learned the love of sports from his father and honed his sports writing skills as an assistant in the sports information office at Niagara University, has been part of the Olympic Movement since 1996. He began his career with USA Archery (although he admits he knew nothing about the sport at the time), and then took jobs with the Olympic boxing and speed skating organizations before obtaining his current position as director of communications for USA Taekwondo in 2005. He also does some work for the USA pentathlon team.
His career with the Olympics is a study in contrasts. During the two weeks or so before and during the Olympic Games, he's involved in a whirlwind of activities including coordinating press conferences and media interviews, observing practices, and covering the competitions. This year, he brought several athletes to a London school to talk with its Taekwondo club and was on hand when Lester Holt of the Today Show interviewed the four Lopez siblings -- Jean, who is the Olympic taekwondo coach, and his three younger siblings, Steven, Mark and Diana, who all medaled at the Beijing Games in 2008.
During the long downtimes between Games, however, Bill manages a one-man communication office at the Olympic Sport House in Colorado Springs, Co., spending most of his time behind a desk and handling behind-the-scenes responsibilities such as the organization's Facebook and Twitter accounts, its quarterly magazine and monthly email newsletter. While he gets opportunities to work directly with the athletes during national qualifiers, national championships (where he's the “guy on the microphone”) and camps, the majority of his time is spent promoting what they do.
So the opportunity to attend Olympic Games, which he has done three times -- Sydney (2000), Beijing (2008) and now London ”“ are a highlight of his job.
“They're the reward for the four years you put in leading up to it,” Bill says. “Eventually you'll get to go to these Games and see the athletes that you work with have a chance to win a gold medal for all the work they've put in.
“Amateur athletes are special to work with because they're in it for the love of the sport,” he adds. “They put in so much time and effort and seldom get rewarded monetarily for their efforts. It's all for the glory and the pursuit of the medal. It's very admirable to work with athletes like that.”
Bill was not considering a career with the Olympics when he enrolled at Niagara University. He thought he'd end up as a sports information director at a college somewhere. He was an avid fan of Niagara basketball (he was a ball boy for the men's team as a youngster) and kept the statistics for both the men's and women's teams while an undergrad. That's where he first met his wife, the former Nancy Hardwick, '92. After graduation, even as he worked in public relations for a local chiropractor and then as alumni director and assistant director of development for Niagara Catholic Junior Senior High School, he kept his foot in the sports information door with part-time SID work at Niagara County Community College.
But opportunity presented itself and today, Bill couldn't imagine doing anything else.
“I always dreamed of being an Olympian, but when that didn't happen I guess this is the closest thing,” he says. “When this door opened for me, it was kind of a dream come true.”
Editor's Note: Bill recently accepted the position of director of communications with USA cycling. He begins his duties on Oct. 1. Congratulations, Bill!