Oct. 18, 2012
STANFORD, Calif. - Each Thursday, gostanford.com presents an interview between a former Stanford gymnast and team manager Tori Lewis. This week Tori interviews Jene Elzie, an All-American and regional champion on uneven bars.
The following is Tori's conversation with Jene:
Tori: Can you catch everyone on up on what you've been doing since you graduated Stanford?
Jene: After I graduated, I moved out to Los Angeles and started working in sports. I had worked with the Olympics in Atlanta and knew that that was kind of my passion. I worked for Fox Sports for several years. I was then buying and selling sports properties. Then, I started with Comcast, which is now NBC Universal, and I started in international business and sales. That involved managing the international sales team. I was doing that from Los Angeles, trying to manage teams in London, Singapore, and Latin America and that was putting me on the road about 20 weeks out of the year, which became a little bit crazy! After that, I moved to London to do the same job from here. I've been in London for the past 3 years and I moved over into a role in commercial development and marketing solutions, also with NBC Universal, about a year and a half ago.
Tori: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?
Jene: I would say having had the opportunity to have some really unique experiences and travel the world and live in another country... To do a lot of the things that were on my bucket list, really.
Tori: What life lesson has stuck with you from your time in the gym?
Tori: What's your favorite memory from SWG?
Jene: I would say two things. First, focus and resilience. The best thing about gymnastics is that it gives you the ability to know that you can handle and overcome any situation. I think that, especially for women in the workplace, that's a lesson that we have to learn over and over again and I'm so happy that I was always taught to focus and to come back from whatever, be it a bad fall or an injury. I always had the confidence to know I could do pretty much anything I set my mind to.
Also, especially with college, I definitely learned the power of the Stanford family. I recently reconnected with the alumni group here in London. You never really leave Stanford, and with gymnastics, you never leave your team. I still keep in touch with everybody and we get together when we can. But ultimately it's about knowing you're a part of something special that's never going to go away.
Jene: Qualifying for the NCAA's my freshman year. It was the first time Stanford had ever done it: there were 4 sophomores and 4 freshmen. It was at Cal Berkeley and we had competed the meet of our lives. But we had finished in a tie, so we didn't find out until 8 the next morning whether we had qualified or not. So we went over to Trancos and stayed up all night, trying to distract ourselves, until the morning when we found out. I just remember screaming and jumping for joy on the bike ride back and it was 8 on a Saturday morning... I'm pretty sure I woke up half the campus.
Tori: Do you have a funniest memory from SWG?
Jene: The funniest moment had to be when the 4 freshmen, including myself, doing the "Natural Woman" dance for the freshmen guys as part of our freshman orientation... You had to be there!
Tori: What do you miss most about your time with SWG?
Jene: I miss the camaraderie; I miss the girls. I miss the team.
Tori: Do you have any other thoughts or reflections about your particular era with the team?
Jene: I think, for us, we were coming in with no expectations. But we had a feeling that we were going to be a part of something special. There were a lot of firsts with our team. Just being a part of that, and seeing how that base and foundation has led to a lot of success, is really inspiring. To know that we were part of the beginning of that, I can't really describe it. It makes me really proud to see where the program has gone.
Tori: Do you have any advice for the current athletes?
Jene: Have fun! Don't take it all too seriously. And if you get the chance, I would highly recommend trying to take some off after it's all said and done and have a mini-bucket list. Do all those things you wanted to do, whether it's studying abroad for a couple months or backpacking throughout Europe or working for the Peace Corps. Whatever it is you want to do, I would take advantage of the fact that once your career is over and once gymnastics is done, you have endless possibilities. It definitely gets even better!
Tori: Do you have anything else you want to add?
Jene: If anyone's in London, look me up! I have a pull-out couch!