FARMINGTON — When the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro get underway in a little more than a year, you might see a familiar face on your TV screen.
Mario Sategna, the head track and field coach at the University of Texas and a 1991 Bloomfield High graduate, will be with the men's U.S. Olympic team as an assistant throwing coach.
"In our sport, and for a lot of sports, the Olympics is the pinnacle," Sategna said. "I was never able to achieve the goal of making the Olympics as an athlete, and it's such an honor to get the selection as an assistant. To be a part of that, I'm super blessed and very fortunate."
The 2016 games will be the second time Sategna will coach with the U.S. team. In 2011, he was part of the coaching staff for the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, which helped him get the name recognition for the 2016 Olympics.
"Once you get into those championship settings, your name starts to get kicked around a little bit," Sategna said. "I have a lot on my plate with my day job at the University of Texas, but this opportunity only comes up once every four years. I told them I was interested, but to be a finalist and to be selected is a huge honor."
The assistant role with Team USA won't affect Sategna's role with the Longhorns that much. He said that most of his responsibilities for the Olympics will come after the 2016 NCAA Championships.
Prior to flying to Rio de Janeiro, Sategna will be part of a 10-day training camp with the Olympic team in Houston. From there, he will fly with the team and coaches to Rio de Janeiro to get the athletes acclimated to the weather and facilities in what Sategna said will be "a jam-packed month."
"Our main job is to ensure that the athletes who make the team have all their needs met," he said. "We'll be working with their personal coaches, in the case that they are professionals, their agents and medical trainers. We'll be managing and keeping a lot of balls in the air. It's a tremendous week to represent the United States of America at the Olympic Games and we're going to do everything we can to help them. That's my goal, to do everything I can to help and maybe that could be the difference between having one of our athletes finishing on the podium and coming back with a medal."
This past season, Sategna led the Longhorns men's and women's teams to the Big 12 Conference's indoor and outdoor titles.
Sategna became the head coach at Texas in June 2013, and won the Big 12's indoor and outdoor Coach of the Year awards in 2014.
Sategna said he hopes his time with Team USA serves as a learning opportunity, providing him with experience and knowledge he can bring back to the Longhorns program.
"It's a tremendous learning experience, and I've never been afraid to ask questions and pick the brains of other coaches and colleagues," Sategna said. "I'm going to try to soak up as much as I can, and learn how best to come back to Texas and make the team and program better."