SMA's Marsha Seagrave headed to Olympics as manager for US track and field team

Sarasota resident will be in Tokyo to make sure the 59 female US track and field competitors don’t have to sweat the small stuff

Doug Fernandes
Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Our area will be represented at the Tokyo Olympics by more than the six athletes hoping to win gold for Team USA.

That’s the shared goal of Clark Dean (rowing), Jake Ilardi (skateboarding), Mary Tucker (shooting), Emma Weyant (swimming) and Nelly and Jessica Korda (golf).

But any gold medal earned by Marsha Seagrave will have to be unofficial in nature. As the Head Manager for the United States’ track and field team, the Sarasota Military Academy counselor won’t need any recognition for a job well done.

“I’m more a behind-the-scenes person,” the 49-year-old native of Jamaica said. “I’m there to do a job.” And in her position as one of two head managers for the track and field team, Seagrave will be in Tokyo to make sure the 59 female competitors on the total squad of 119 don’t have to sweat the small stuff.

Sarasota Military Academy counselor Marsha Seagrave will serve as a Head Manager for the United States' track and field team at the Tokyo Olympics. COURTESY PHOTO

Related:Sarasota's Emma Weyant wins 400 IM at U.S. Olympic trials to secure spot at Tokyo Olympics

More Olympics:Sarasota rower Clark Dean counting down the days to Tokyo Olympics

“My role will be doing the logistics part of the team,” she said. “Making sure that all our athletes are where they’re supposed to be, getting them into the call room so they can make their race on time. Just little intricate stuff like that. Anything that requires less stress on the athletes, that’s what our job is.”

An application process is required for anyone wanting to work in a job such as Seagrave’s. A selection committee makes the final determination based on certain criteria. Of course, it probably helped Seagrave’s cause that she served in the same capacity at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“I guess they decided, ‘Yeah, why not?’ ” she said. But when Seagrave applied for those Olympics, she did so with hesitancy at becoming a Head Manager. Prior to that, she had been selected to serve in that role for the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas. “I had no choice,” she said.

But afterward, obviously pleased with the job Seagrave did, officials told her to apply for the position for the Rio Olympics. “Not thinking I was going to get the head Olympic job,” she said. “I was hoping I was going to get an assistant (position).”

Seagrave said the key is not trying to assume the workload of several people. Like most successful head coaches, delegation of responsibilities is critical. “If you’re well organized and plan accordingly, everything will be fine,” she said. “And if you’re not a control freak and able to delegate work, I think your life will be fine. It’s going to be a smooth sail.”

You might also like:Ilardi clinches Olympic team berth at world championships in Rome

Hoping for gold:Sarasota's Mary Tucker has a real shot at gold at the Tokyo Olympics

The former sprinter and long jumper at St. John’s University — she had a personal best of 20 feet, 9 inches — gave up competing a couple years after earning a master’s degree at Syracuse University in counselor education. Seagrave currently is working towards a second master’s, in education leadership.

“I didn’t want to be wondering, ‘OK, where is my next paycheck coming from?’ I jumped into my career and stayed involved in the sport.”

Before coming to SMA in 2011, Seagrave worked at a high school in Syracuse from 1998 to 2011. After moving to Sarasota, she coached at Out-of-Door Academy for three years before helping IMG Academy start its track and field program.

While Seagrave, who leaves for the Games on July 21, returns on Aug. 8 and is back at SMA the next day, was able to see some of Rio during her assignment there in 2016, she won’t be so fortunate in Tokyo.

“We’re not allowed to go anywhere, which is OK,” she said. “So as managers and a staff, we just have to manage our athletes’ expectations. The athletes are just happy to be competing and have an Olympics.”