Morgan, Dabney have an Olympic volunteer episode
by BRIAN GRAVES Banner Staff Writer
Feb 18, 2014 | 2095 views | 0 0 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Wacker duo help hand out supplies to athletes, coaches
Wacker employees Michael Dabney, left and Michael Morgan, right, pose with U.S. Olympic skaters Charlie White and Meryl Davis. White and Davis won the Gold Medal in Ice Dancing Monday. Submitted photo
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Wacker is currently hosting future Charleston plant workers at the corporation’s principal plant in Burghausen, Germany.

Two of those could not have imagined their experience overseas would become a star-studded affair.

Michael Morgan and Michael Dabney were two of many who volunteered to work at the German greeting station for Olympic athletes, coaches and staff.

It was the checkpoint for all those on the way to Sochi, Russia, for the games where the Olympians were fitted with their uniforms before proceeding to the opening ceremonies.

Morgan shared both his photographs and memories with The Banner.

“The first thing I noticed when I showed up on setup day was just how massive the whole thing was,” Morgan said.

“I found out that day we were not only going to take care of and process 230 athletes, but also all of the coaches and staff who would be attending the games and marching in the Opening or Closing Ceremonies. In total we processed almost 400 people.”

Morgan said processing involved unloading all of the Olympic clothing from trucks; putting the clothing in designated areas by size; putting the outfits for each athlete together based on what they said their sizes were; had the athletes try on each piece of clothing; and have the Ralph Lauren tailor approve the final look for its Opening and Closing Ceremony appearance.

“My first two days were spent unloading those clothes and preparing them,” Morgan said.

He said when the athletes arrived, despite just getting off an airplane and suffering from jet lag, they “came into the facility with a great deal of energy and enthusiasm.”

“Even those who had done this several times before, who we had been warned they might be ‘jaded’ by the process, were overwhelmingly happy to be there,” Morgan said.

He said the energy of the Olympians was the thing he’ll remember most.

“The absolute energy of these people, even with little or no sleep,” he recalled.

“They were clearly having fun with the outfits, dancing around with one another and just generally having a good time,” Morgan said. “And, instead of being stuck up or proud, each and every one was humble to the core — even the winners.”

Morgan and Dabney found themselves to be somewhat “celebritized” when many of the athletes asked to have pictures taken with them.

“One veteran who impressed me the most was 2006 gold medalist and two-time silver medalist in Vancouver, Julia Mancuso,” Morgan said.

“She came over to the booth that Michael Dabney and I were working, the Hamilton watch booth, with a social media camera, obviously streaming her experience and asked if we were OK with her taking a picture with us,” he said.

“It absolutely blew our minds that this Olympic gold medalist was asking if she could take a picture with us. So, we said sure, as long as we could get a picture with our phones, as well, which she OK’d.”

Morgan said he was the only one involved in the process who was a true Southerner, which got a lot of attention.

“One of the more entertaining occurrences of the whole event was people asking me where I am from,” he said. “It was a point of fun from the opening volunteer orientation through to the last athlete that I got to see. It was quite funny for me, considering that I’ve never thought that my accent was that strong.”

Morgan found himself most impressed with three of America’s top Olympic skaters: Jason Brown, Meryl Davis and Charlie White.

“We had overheard someone say to Jason that his video had received 3 million hits on YouTube,” Morgan said. “When he came over to our booth, I asked him which video they were referring to. He responded that it was his silver-medal finish in the U.S. Championships in Boston.

“We complimented him on that achievement and on his silver medal, and he seemed to almost burst into tears at the well wishes. You could just tell that this young teenager, who is experiencing all of this for the first time, is just extremely humble and thrilled to be in these games. His humility and the way he reacted to two guys who he had never met, but who are now huge fans, was just amazing. I, for one, will root for this kid throughout his career. Just from talking with him for five minutes, I could tell that he is what the games are all about.”

Morgan and Dabney then found themselves as objects for a souvenir book.

“Michael and I told Meryl and Charlie that we were big fans, but that volunteer policy was that we couldn’t ask athletes for photographs. At which point Charlie spoke up and said, ‘Hey, can we get a picture with you guys?’ And they took the time to not only take a picture for each of us with our phones, but also took their own picture of us with their phone,” Morgan said.

Morgan said his last memory of the experience was seeing Davis sitting in the dinner area having a meal after what was a very long day.

“She still took the time to say goodnight and thank me for watching. These two were classy throughout the whole day and epitomize the Olympic spirit,” Morgan said.