Many people believe once you find a place to call home, you will never want to leave. The same rings true here in Buckeye Nation where alumni from all over the globe return to their alma mater. For a special group of alumni, The Ohio State University has remained home even after their student-athlete careers came to an end.
Six former student-athletes — Jeff Brown, Carly Grimshaw, Raymont Harris, Mike Nicholson, Jason Singleton, and Shelaine Warren — still reside in Buckeye territory as part of the Ohio State Athletics Department staff after accomplished athletic careers. Brown was a member of a program that captured three Big Ten championships in golf between 1994 and 1998; Grimshaw was a synchronized swimmer who tried out for Great Britain’s Olympic team in 2004; and Harris was a four-year letterwinner at tail back and Most Valuable Player for the 1993 football season who went on to play six years in the National Football League. Additionally, Singleton captained the men’s basketball team in 1999 and was a letterwinner in all four of his collegiate seasons; Nicholson was a member of the 1991 rifle team that finished third at the NCAA championships; and Warren was a track and field star and former school record-holder in the hammer throw from 2004.
Although each individual has a different story depicting their return to Ohio State, they all have one thing in common: a passion for Buckeye Athletics.
“About five years after I left school, I wanted to come back,” Harris said. “I started thinking about the traditions and the history here and being on campus too. I felt nostalgic about all of it and gained a greater appreciation for it.”
As a former Buckeye student-athlete, working at Ohio State is a unique experience. Harris noted that he feels a special connection to the football program in particular.
“I’m from here. I’m a product of this athletics department. Therefore, I’m very passionate about it,” said Harris. “It’s an older brother kind of feeling.”
Nicholson has been a member of the athletics department staff for 25 years. After pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communication, he came back to campus to earn his MBA and never left.
“Ohio State is part of me,” Nicholson said.
Throughout his time here as an electronic technician, Nicholson has enjoyed witnessing the development of technology and electronics. He is proud to say his office is in Ohio Stadium.
“Ohio State is a world community,” Nicholson said. “People come from South Africa, Japan, all over, just to see the stadium.”
For Singleton, his best memories are about camaraderie with his fellow teammates.
“The relationships I built here were the best things I took from here,” Singleton said.
Singleton remained involved with sports following graduation. He began coaching seventh and eighth grade boys’ and girls’ basketball and then went on to work for the NCAA. However, Singleton said he missed being at Ohio State.
“I always wanted to come back but never thought it would happen in my wildest dreams. It’s an awesome opportunity to be back, a dream come true,” Singleton said.
Brown has been a Buckeye his entire life. He was born at Wexner Medical Center at The Ohio State University and was raised in Columbus.
“It all had a role in deciding to come back; growing up here, connections made here,” he said. “This is a natural fit for me.” Brown said it makes sense many student-athletes return to work here after graduation.
“You have a great experience with athletics and it’s natural to want to become a part of that,” said Brown.
Grimshaw’s ambition to work for the athletics department came about as a result of her experience as a student-athlete. During her sophomore year, she was trying out for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. Since she was traveling every month, she worked very closely with the compliance office to ensure she remained eligible. Ultimately, this experience led to her desire to come back and pay it forward.
“My experience working with the compliance office was so helpful and I thought that given my experience as a student-athlete, I would be able to help other student-athletes,” Grimshaw said.
Although their reasons for returning are all different, many former student-athletes find their way back to their alma mater. Ohio State alumni may end up all over the globe but their roots will always be here in Columbus, Ohio. Put properly in the words of Singleton, “it feels like home.”
By: Kaitlin Watterson, Athletics Communications