Three Runners Head to Olympic Training Center for F.L.A.M.E. Program

2009 men team
2009 men team

Written by Student Assistant Stephen Hobbs '11

Santa Clara University is home to many different individuals who strive to better themselves and the community around them. The athletic department is home to many of these great leaders.

Marcos Hinojosa (Sophomore, San Jose, Calif.), Nhunguyen Le (Junior, Mission Viejo, Calif.) and Richard Zhu (Junior, Medford, Ore,) fit into this unique mold. The trio of cross country athletes were selected for the F.L.A.M.E. (Finding Leaders Among Minorities Everywhere) program run by the United States Olympic Committee. The F.L.A.M.E. program brings 30 minority student athletes from all sports all over the country for a four-day conference in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Training facility. The program includes motivational presentations by Olympians and Paralympians, leadership seminars, networking, financial literary workshops and much more.  In order to qualify, applicants must be minority undergraduate or graduate students (ages 18-24) who have demonstrated leadership through academics, athletics and community and have a minimum college grade point average (GPA) of 2.75 or better.

Bronco associate head coach Felipe Montoro, who oversees the men's cross country team, is extremely proud of his three athletes, "I am very pleased that three members of our cross country team were selected to participate in the F.L.A.M.E.  program this summer. It is a unique opportunity for them. The experience will contribute to their collegiate athletic experience in many positive ways. Leadership is a vital component of successful athletic programs and Nhunguyen, Richard and Marcos will hopefully be able to translate their experiences at the US Olympic Training Center in a way that will positively impact our own team here at SCU. We are looking forward to their trip."

After being selected to the prestigious program the student athletes all weighed in on what it meant to them.

SCU: Why did you apply for the F.L.A.M.E. program and what are you looking forward to?

Marcos Hinojosa (MH): When we received the application from Coach Montoro it was really sudden and we realized that we only had a few hours to apply because the application was due that day.  All I saw was that it was a trip to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and F.L.A.M.E. was willing to pay for everything. It wasn't until after I sent the application that I read up on the program and learn about their mission on leadership. I am really looking forward to trying out the anti-gravity treadmill.  I always wanted to see what it feels like to run without any pressure on your legs.

Nhunguyen Le (NL): The F.L.A.M.E.  program is an opportunity of a lifetime. I will have the chance to learn from the country's top athletes at the Olympic Training Center and it doesn't get more exciting than that.  I believe that the program will be an experience that will not only enrich my development as a student-athlete and student leader, but as a person as well. In particular, I am looking forward to sharing this experience with my teammates Richard and Marcos. They have been awesome teammates through my first two years at Santa Clara University, and I am very excited to be going to Colorado Springs with such great people.

Richard Zhu (RZ): One of the main reasons I applied for the F.L.A.M.E. program, funded by the US Olympic Committee, was the once in a lifetime opportunity to visit one of the most state-of-the-art athletic facilities in the world. Used by world champions and Olympians, the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs enables our United States athletes to reach their fullest potential in their athletic discipline. To be able to see the facilities, technology, services, nutritional expertise and support that our Olympians partake in everyday is something that I couldn't pass up. Being athletes, we strive to find the extra-healthy edge to perform to our utmost potential. Hopefully, I will be able to learn an extra tip to drop my time for the upcoming season even more. Along with the state-of-the-art facilities, I am also looking forward to meeting the 27 other minority student athletes and leaders that have been selected for this honor. The ability to meet athletes from all sports, areas of the nation, and universities will provide an enriching experience. To realize that fellow student athletes of color have similar goals, in the classroom or on the field, will be a rewarding experience.


SCU: What are you expecting to get out of the experience as it pertains to being a leader (on the team, at the school and in your community)?

MH: What I am hoping to learn about being leader is the way to actively show leadership or to learn how to become a leader.  Being a part of a team allows you the opportunity to come into contact with many people with different personalities and different likes and dislikes.  This can be very difficult to manage as a coach let alone a captain for a team.  Yet, there always seems to be people that you meet and after spending some time with them you kind of know that they are a leader. I intend to improve my leadership skills because as an underclassman I know it will soon be my job to help the future underclassmen to shape into great student athletes.  I hope this camp will teach me these characteristics as a leader because I feel that it is my duty towards Santa Clara to make sure their student athletes come in to reach their fullest potential and continue the team's unprecedented rate of success in such a short amount of time.

NL: I am hoping that the program will teach me how to effectively integrate my skills as a student-athlete into my work as a student leader. As someone who is deeply involved in student government, I am eager to learn ways in which I can better serve the Santa Clara community. Furthermore, I hope that Richard, Marcos, and I can bring back our experience to our team. By sharing what we have done and utilizing the skills we learned, I believe that we can bring the team even closer together. I think this will be important and crucial to the success of Santa Clara's cross country and track teams. 

RZ: The U.S. Olympic Committee is supporting and establishing a legacy of leadership amongst student-athletes of color out of their own pocket. To fly us out to Colorado Springs and support us for four days is a testament of how determined the U.S. Olympic Committee is in creating leaders in the classroom, on the fields and even on the Olympic stage. I hope to take away from this experience lessons that will one day enable me to be a future leader at my university, in my community, and beyond.


For more information on the F.L.A.M.E. program you can go to its website at: