Among UCLA Anderson’s student body and alumni network are several U.S. Olympians, many of them medalists. As Rio 2016 escalates, we’re profiling five standouts who talk about their athletic team training and how an Anderson education influenced their esprit de corps.
By David Davis
Mary Harvey (’98), Soccer
1996 Atlanta Olympics
For Mary Harvey and her teammates, representing the Untied States and winning the gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics was unique “because this was the first time women’s soccer had been added to the Olympic program,” she said. “And, being in Atlanta, this was on American soil.”
One of the two goalkeepers on the U.S. team, Harvey became the backup to starter Briana Scurry after suffering a severe injury prior to the Olympics. “Was that the role I wanted?” she asked. “No, I wanted to play. It was difficult for me. But that was the job that they offered me, and so I had to accept that that’s my role.”
How Harvey reacted to her experiences on the soccer pitch is similar to how she interacts with co-workers as an executive. “That is very much informed by what I learned from being a team sport athlete,” she said. “When things go to hell in the workplace, I find that in those situations, I calm down. I’m very problem focused. I’m entirely focused on: what do we do right now to navigate out of this?”
UCLA Anderson’s approach to working in teams was “a good fit for me personally,” she said. “When you’re on a team, you have to be focused on two things. You have to do what your role is really well because you’re the only one assigned to do it. The other part is, you’re part of a unit and your actions — what you say and what you do — impact the whole unit, not just you.”
Harvey worked for FIFA and then served as chief operating officer for the Women’s Professional Soccer league. Since 2012, she has run her own consulting firm, Seattle-based Ripple Effect Consulting.