OLYMPIC memories are incredibly important to Jason Crosbie, even though to describe them out loud they might still sound surreal.
Crosbie was a 17-year-old basketball statistician, technically underage, but entrusted with an important job at the Sydney 2000 Games - and he did so courtside to the best players in the word.
This week marks 20 years since the Games opened but it was the day before the Olympic Opening Ceremony that makes for Crosbie's most vivid memory. He was one of 50 people in the venue watching Team USA's training session.
When the session finished, Crosbie moved into the volunteer lounge to wait for his Games guardians to pick him up. Team USA walked in and started chatting to him.
(Team USA walked in). That was the moment I realised this was real now...the amount of money people would pay for an experience like that is crazy.Jason Crosbie, 2000 Sydney Olympics technical official volunteer
"I was completely on my own. There were no autographs or photos and stuff because that was was against my accreditation, but it's the biggest memory I have. That was the moment I realised this was real now," Crosbie said.
"There were players like Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, Jason Kidd, Ray Allen and Gary Payton - the amount of money people would pay for an experience like that is crazy."
Crosbie's path to reach the Olympics was intense. He was talent-identified with the potential to be a basketball statistician about two to three years out from the Games.
This led to volunteering his time to fine-tune skills at national championships in Bendigo and Geelong and via the Australian Basketball Association (then featuring Ballarat Miners and Lady Miners) while under close scrutiny from officials.
More than 100 people formally applied as basketball statisticians with 30 selected. Crosbie was notified at Christmas time in 1999.
Exhibition games for the Australian Boomers and Opals, including hit-outs against the United States, followed.
Once in Sydney, volunteer technical officials had three weeks to learn a new computer program for their role - a process Crosbie said was tricky and nerve-racking but fine once the team got a handle on their new calls.
Olympics was high-stakes pressure, especially compared to the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games that Crosbie volunteered in six years later.
In basketball, most of the powerhouse nations are not Commonwealth nations so the action on the court at the Olympics was a whole different level - and, by Melbourne 2006, Crosbie had built up more experience courtside.
IN OTHER NEWS
Being a volunteer meant Crosbie had to pay for his own flights to Sydney and find accommodation, luckily being taken in by a host family. Shifts were usually in two-game stints with buses to and from the Olympic village.
Crosbie said he remained thankful to have been part of it all.
"Still to this day, it's amazing. It wasn't just the basketball I was fortunate enough to experience," Crosbie said. "Sydney was one big party. You'd walk through the Olympic village with so many people.
"I got to see a number of other events, including Eric the Eel in the swimming, Cathy Freeman's heats and the men's 100-metre sprint heats in athletics. All great memories."
Have you signed up to The Courier's variety of news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in Ballarat.