Moving from an organization of 30,000 members to 6,000 would be a big change for anybody. But for Adam Andrasko, new CEO of USA Synchro, that change involves switching gears from a director-level position with USA Field Hockey to the top role in a sport that is new to him: synchronized swimming. The goals for the new CEO aren’t small. Andrasko wants to share USA Synchro with the world at the next Olympic Games, where he hopes American athletes will stand out with a new swimming style.
Why did you make the move from USA Field Hockey to USA Synchro?
This is something I’ve been working toward since I started my career. I started with the U.S. Olympic Committee, and that transitioned to a really good job opportunity with USA Field Hockey. The things I learned at USA Field Hockey for nearly three years set me up for this opportunity. I guess I had my eyes open for any opportunity that would allow me to advance in my career and use those skills that I acquired at Field Hockey. When Synchro posted its job opportunity, I took a leap of faith and here we are.
What will you focus on in your new role with USA Synchro?
There’s a really good organizational structure put into place, so we will focus very much on the success of the national team, at the very forward-facing opportunity that we have. Our national team hopes to qualify for duet and the team event at the Olympic Games. We haven’t been in a team event for the last couple of Olympic Games, so that’s definitely a priority of ours. We hired a national team coach, and assistant coach—they started the same day that I did in their roles. We’ll look to them to put together a team that can win the Pan American Games and qualify for the Olympic Games, and then they need to build that team as best they can, same for the duet team.
Do the Olympic Games lose their excitement because you work in this industry?
I can’t say that it loses excitement. You do have to turn your eye to what you’re working on and how awe-inspiring that is a little bit more often. I think as a common fan, you see the Olympic Games come around every four years and you go and you get excited. Well for us, it is an everyday opportunity that we live in. I like to take a step back at the beginning or the end of every day and acknowledge that the opportunity you have in front of you to work for a sport that captures the hearts and minds of every American at least on a four-year basis is a pretty exciting opportunity.
What are some of the lessons from USA Field Hockey that you think will help guide you in this new position?
The most important thing that I’ve learned is that it’s important to focus on the member, because they’re what makes everything happen. They are the foundation; they come to your events; they’re the ones that support you in fundraising; they’re the ones that bring in sponsors; they’re the ones that are in the sport every single day with a true passion and desire to not just make themselves better but make the sport as a whole better.
What changes will fans notice with USA Synchro?
I think that those fans will see that national team as a team. We’ll know that after the Pan-Am Games. If we don’t qualify there, there’s a last-chance qualifier where they’ll have an opportunity to make the Olympic Games, so that’s most important. Beyond that, as I mentioned, there’s a new coaching staff and with a new coaching staff comes a new swimming style. Because of that new swimming style, I hope that we are more and more competitive in the world ranks, because obviously that is our primary goal.
Tell me about the International Olympic Academy.
That was a three-week opportunity that I had to travel to Olympia, Greece and engage with 155 counterparts and colleagues of mine from 88 countries. We had immersive opportunities in Athens and Olympia, Greece to interact, educate ourselves, hear from some of the highest-level educators in Olympic Education ideals and the sport-business-side of the Olympic Games. We had the opportunity to interact, learn cultural norms, cultural differences, and understand each other in a really unique setting. I wish that everybody who is inspired by the Olympic Games, who is excited by the ideals of the Olympic Games has an opportunity to travel to Olympia, Greece, as it is a very small place but a very exciting place and full of Olympic spirit.
What’s your opinion on the financial impact of hosting the Olympics in the U.S.?
As you know, the 2028 Olympics will be hosted in L.A. and for us as a sporting organization that provides a unique opportunity to our athletes because we’re automatically qualified for the games. In that context of it, [I’m] extremely excited. It’s very clear that competitive balance in home games shifts significantly, so it allows teams to prepare and hopefully compete at a higher level. The USOC and L.A. 2028 put together a very informed and educated bid that is really aimed at reducing the cost for infrastructure, transportation infrastructure, venue infrastructure, all those things, and using what’s already existing. L.A. 2028 will make sure that we have one of the greatest games of all time, but not at the detriment of any of our fellow countrymen as you’ve seen has been some of the public issues with spending in many of these other Olympic Games. Photo by JP Photography