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Behind the scenes at the Olympics Kenai man attends Sydney games as part of cycling team

Posted: Tuesday, November 07, 2000

While many of Kenai Peninsula residents watched the Olympic Games in Australia and cheered from their living rooms, Kenai resident Aaron Epperson had a chance to be a part of the games and at the heart of the excitement.

Epperson was the only seigneur -- French for person of care -- for the women cyclists of the United States Cycling Federation. The women brought back a silver medal from the games in Sydney.

When asked what his duties were as seigneur, Epperson smiled and said simply, "You name it."

Trained and certified in massage, Epperson, who is one of five employees at Frontier Physical Therapy in Kenai, said he basically took care of the athletes. Massage was only about 20 percent of his job.

He said his job often was to take on the role of parent, sibling and friend.

"Your someone to talk to and to trust," he said.

Epperson said he also took care of the athletes' beverage needs, carried a medicine kit at all times, mapped out courses and was in charge of almost all of the transportation.

"It's a gofer thing, but it is an experience," he said.

One of his most important roles was that of motivator, encouraging the cyclists from a bronze to a silver medal finish.

His career as a seigneur began when he met the women's coach for the cycling federation. He was volunteering his time in Colorado when the opportunity came up, he said, and it just worked out for him.

The 2000 Olympics were one of many competitions in which Epperson has played a part. He also has attended many world championships as seigneur for the federation.

The games may be on a different scale in the sport, but the goal is the same.

"You're always going for the gold," Epperson said.

Each championship game or competition Epperson attends means time off work at Frontier, but he said his employer, Jeannie Coston, has allowed him to take time off -- about three times a year at a month and a half each time.

"I don't think there is any other employer in the world who would let me do that," he said. "She's been amazing."

Coston said Epperson's second career was made known to her when she hired him.

"We thought it was pretty cool," she said.

Coston said she and the other employees watched the games, following the success of the team and looking for Epperson.

"We kind of felt a part of it," she said.

Epperson said that in his first season with the federation, he did not have the desire to go the the Olympics, but by his second season, he had decided he wanted to attend the next Olympic games.

The feelings and emotions of the games were indescribable, Epper-son said.

Epperson also worked with the men's cycling team on the timed trials, track cycling and the sprint and endurance group. He spent 18 days total at the games helping both the men's and women's teams.

However, with all of the excitement and hard work, Epperson said he retired from his job as seigneur the day he returned home from the games. He still plans to keep in touch with the coach and help out, though.

Epperson said he is looking forward to a more anchored lifestyle instead of living out of a suitcase day to day.

Coston also likes the idea.

"I'm really glad to have him back," she said.

Although his lifestyle seemed too good to give up, Epperson said he is content at the moment.

"I'm ready to move on. It is so nice to be home and settled," he said.



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