Second Thoughts

Reality show seeks athletes with dreams

The eight winners of Scouting Camp: The Next Olympic Hopeful are shown at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., in July. From left are Keely Kortman, women’s track cycling; Collin Hudson, men’s track cycling; Amanda Alvarez, women’s skeleton; Quentin Butler, men’s skeleton; Kelli Smith, women’s rugby; Devin Short, men’s rugby; Kyle Plante, women’s bobsled; and Josh Williamson, men’s bobsled.

A new reality show on NBC Sports Network has helped determine spots on several U.S. national team camps.

Former lacrosse player Josh Williamson is one of eight athletes who have taken the newly opened reality-show route to earn a spot on a U.S. national team camp, which is where America's Olympians are eventually chosen. Williamson, who is competing in the men's bobsled, was one of about 3,000 athletes who signed up either at the website or at a 24 Hour Fitness, passed the initial tryout phase, then made the cut down to 91 athletes, who were invited to the Olympic Training Center for a made-for-TV tryout camp.

From there, eight made national team camps for rugby, track cycling, bobsled and skeleton. Those athletes' names were announced at the end of a reality show that aired Friday night on NBC Sports Network called Scouting Camp: The Next Olympic Hopeful.

"I think the reason I've enjoyed it so much is because I haven't expected any of it," Williamson told The Associated Press. "I thought I'd go out, do my best, and with the work, some things have fallen in my lap."

The Winter Olympics will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, next February.

Williamson, 20, grew up in Orlando, Fla., and traded in football pads for a lacrosse stick in junior high. He went to Mercer University in Georgia to play, but a series of injuries chased him out of the sport. Williamson was planning on attending a bobsledding combine in August, when he heard about the U.S. Olympic Committee's program.

Besides the eight winners, 23 athletes were invited to continue training in their respective sports.

The USOC's director of sport performance, Alan Ashley, said this is an out-of-the-box way of identifying elite athletes -- football players, runners and the like -- whose skills might translate into an Olympic sport, many of which don't get the mainstream attention as football, basketball, baseball and hockey in America.

Williamson participated in last month's National Push Championships in Calgary, and has plans to work out with the U.S. team in Lake Placid, N.Y., next week. The Winter Olympics are less than six months away, and a spot on the team isn't completely out of the question. The 2022 Games in Beijing might be more realistic.

He said it

From Brad Dickson of the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald:

• "The odds of winning the Powerball lottery drawing this week were one in 292 million. Speaking of those odds, has anyone heard how the Cleveland Browns fall camp is going?"

• "The Jacksonville Jaguars may be close to signing Colin Kaepernick. So it sounds like his dream of playing professional football again is over."

• "Jim Rome called Nebraska football Coach Mike Riley the coolest coach in America because Riley sent his team to see Kendrick Lamar and because Riley earlier hung with Chance the Rapper. Riley is even going by his rap name: 'Bald Ice.' "

Sports on 08/28/2017