March 5, 2015

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Michael Phelps’ manager talks about how he did it

Flickr/marcopako 

When managing high-profile athletes like Michael Phelps, it’s important to have a plan, according to managing director of Octagon’s Olympic and Action Sports division Peter Carlisle.

But the plan can’t be just a business model, according to Phelps’ manager. It has to be a plan in which the athlete inspires people.

Yesterday’s lecture by Carlisle was given yesterday at the Campus Center as part of the Mark H. McCormack Executive-in-Residence program where a prominent figure in sports management comes to UMass for three days to talk to students.

Carlisle has also signed other gold medalists, like gymnast Aly Raisman, speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno, and snowboarders Ross Powers, Hannah Teter, Kelly Clark, and Seth Wescott.

When talking about his 10-year plan with Phelps, though, Carlisle stressed that, “Michael needed to stand alone as an individual athlete,” noting that he didn’t want Phelps to be a part of an army of athletes at the Olympic Games.

Carlisle also emphasized the importance of connecting with people, which is why he visited China three times prior to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, joined together with the Boys and Girls Club and began the Michael Phelps Foundation.

As a result, Phelps became an inspiration, Carlisle said. He said Phelps inspired the 15-year-old female Olympic gold medalist swimmer, Ye Shiwen, whose time defeated even male swimmers such as American Ryan Lochte at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Shiwen has been known to have said that seeing Phelps in China when she was 10 inspired her to start swimming.

Early in the lecture, Carlisle said Mark McCormack, founder and chairman of the International Management Group, inspired him when he first started in Portland, Maine, calling him “the true pioneer.”

Students who attended the lecture thought Carlisle was a good pick.

“I’m interested to hear what he has to say, he’s a prominent figure in sport management,” said freshman sports management major Mike Cronin.

Cronin said Carlisle’s managing of Phelos was “the main reason I admire his career.”

Cameron Huber, a freshman, agreed.

“He’s a really influential figure, and I wanted to hear him speak,” he said.

Catherine Ferris can be reached at cferris@student.umass.edu.

Editors note: A previous version of this story stated Mark McCormack is a UMass alumnae. This was incorrect.

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