Sunday, June 30, 2013

To The Bride and Groom!

Because I did not thoroughly read the Chisam/Azevedo Wedding Itinerary I missed the portion under the rehearsal dinner that said ‘wedding party speeches.’  Better late than never?

After taking Biology class in junior high I began to tease Chelsea that she had all of the recessive genes in the family.  I had many reasons for this, (some were not so nice) but the main reason was that my entire family has dark hair and Chelsea as born with blonde hair.  I concluded that either she was the mail man’s kid or she must have all the weaker genes in my family.  Now reflecting back I have realized that I was in fact wrong.  I didn’t know it at the time that Chelsea actually gained the best combination of our parent’s most genuine qualities.
Throughout Chelsea’s High School years I watched her grow as a person and an athlete.  She was tactfully able to balance her time between school, gymnastics and track and field.  Throughout the spring time she spent hours upon hours training for her two sports and somehow managed to also excel in school.  She has always put 100 percent into everything she has done including her relationship with Chris.   After a successful high school track and field career Chelsea had many college opportunities.  I remember her coming to me asking me what my thoughts were and how I enjoyed my time at UCDavis.  I was nervous for Chelsea to follow my footsteps and select UCDavis, but also knew she would love Davis as much as I had.  Chelsea is four years younger than I am so she was just beginning college as I was exiting.  Fortunately, I decided to stay another year in Davis, which is really when I got to know the person my sister Chelsea had become.

I remember when Chelsea told me she had a ‘crush’ on a guy on her team.  She explained to me how much of a gentleman he was and how kind and caring he was to her.  I am obviously very protective of my sister so many questions followed.  After getting to know Chris I have seen that he is the ying to her yang.  He calms her down when things get tough and always supports her in any endeavor she chooses.  As Chelsea has grown older her hair became darker and heart became open to Chris.  She is one of the most caring and loving people I have ever met and now will be sharing this love with Chris and the rest of his family.  Cheers to Chris and Chelsea!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

With a happy soul comes great training

I find that I am at my physical best when I am happy and having fun training.  Part of this is having balance in my life.  Every day of every week I push my body to the absolute maximum.  This of course is followed up with countless cold tubs and massage to try and alleviate the sore muscles.  Some athletes take their recovery to the extremes by spending hours in front of a television or computer playing video games.  I often wonder if other athletes are creating balance in their lives and what kind of ‘recovery’ is done for the heart and soul?    

When I started working at the Boys and Girls Club in 2010 I did not fully grasp the impact these children were going to have on me.  I expected to go into the club a few hours a week, do what I could to help in ways that were needed and go home, unphased back to my self-centered training lifestyle.  This has not been the case. To me, my In The Arena project at the Boys and Girls Club has helped to keep me grounded and understand the impact I can have on just one person.  It is my recovery for my soul.  I feel good about what I do there and in turn I am able to keep in my mind the bigger picture in life.  I find when my heart and soul feel good my body and training follow suit. 

I wanted other athletes at the Olympic Training Center to have the opportunity to feel this way and to be uplifted and inspired by kids at the Boys and Girls Club.  Most athletes have very busy schedules and are unable to take time away from training to physical go to the club, so instead I have created an Olympic Athlete Pen Pal Program.  This is designed to connect kids at the Boys and Girls Club with Olympic athletes and Olympic hopefuls at the Olympic Training Center.  Each week the kids at the club learn how to write a different type of letter.  The first week they learned how to write a formal business letter and this week they learned a friendly letter format.  After turning in their letters each week the kids anxiously wait for their pen pal to respond. 

Many of the athletes have already told me that they have had great days of training the days they receive each of their letters.  My hope is as the program progresses the athletes will get just as much out of the letters as I know the kids do.  For the kids this is hope and proof that their dreams can come true and for the athletes it is way to give back to the community and to focus on recovering in a different way.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Train with the Best to be the Best

I have often been asked what my favorite Olympic moment is.  There are many moments that stick out in my head.  The first being Kerri Strug bravely vaulting her way into history and helping the 1996 ‘magnificent seven’ Women’s Gymnastics Team win gold.  Or the moment I sat in front of the television and watched Dan Jansen earn his first Olympic gold after previous failed attempts and overcoming many personal struggles.  These are just some of the many moments in Olympic history that stand out to me, but nothing can compare to the history I experienced at the 2010 Olympic Games.  Of course participating in an Olympic Games was incredible and something I had only dreamed of.  That is a moment I will never forget and is hard to surpass, but watching Team Night Train win a historic Gold on an incredibly publicized and difficult track was an experience I was honored to, in a small way, be a part of. 

After experiencing my training partner and close friends win Gold, I began to reflect back on my own journey and the team that helped me achieve my goals.  I thought back to when I first started the sport in 2006.  Back then I was a scared young girl and had not thought competing in the Vancouver Olympics was even a possibility.  I really did not know what I had gotten myself into.  I was very intimidated after meeting all the other athletes in the sport and hearing their resume of amazing accomplishments.  I knew I had a long road ahead of me in order to gain the physical abilities necessary to be an elite bobsled athlete.  After that season I began training with Coach Jon Carlock, who at that time was working with many of the US bobsled athletes and is someone who to this day I work with and credit a great amount of my success to.  Curt Tomaseviz was also one of the athletes that chose to train with Jon and had quickly become one of my friends on the bobsled team.  I was inspired by his ability to quietly work hard and his capability to lead the team through his daily actions.  I knew this was someone I wanted to learn from and to train with.   Over the years I have piggy backed off his work ethic and have become the bobsledder I am today in part because of his mentoring. 

This trainingship between male and females is not very common, but I have read stories of how Dan Jansen and Bonnie Blair, two infamous and successful speed skaters of the late 80’s and early 90’s became friends and training partners over the years.  They pushed each other to be two prolific Olympic athletes.  My accomplishments in no way can compare to the success of Dan and Bonnie, but I can fully relate to the connection they had and the ability to push each other to be the best possible athletes.  I’ve often been asked how a male and female athlete are able to push each other in the weight room or on the track considering the difference in physical abilities.  To me, it is not the weight we lift or the speed we run that pushes us, it is both having a common goal and a mutual desire to win.  This desire fuels us to put our bodies through hell, together to make this happen.  We make each other better every day just as Dan and Bonnie did on the ice and off.   Many athletes are not fortunate enough to experience this kind of invaluable trainingship that I have had with Curt these past seven years.  I believe you have to train with the best to be the best and I’d be hard pressed to find better than an Olympic Champion.