Monday, October 21, 2013

Boys and Girls Club interview

1.You are an amazing mentor and leader to kids. Did you have a mentor when you were young? If so, who? Did he/she tell you anything that resonates with you to this day?

I am very lucky to have incredible parents.  Both of them have supported me with whatever I have wanted to do and have always pushed for me to create goals.  They have allowed me to dream big and to recognize that I can do or be whatever I want.  I hope this is something I can also instill in the kids at the Boys and Girls Club.  I want them to know that they can do whatever they set their minds on.

2.You're a very busy individual, and time is important to you. How has spending your time at BGCPPR provided value in your life?
My time at the Boys and Girls Club has helped to ground me and remind me that there are much bigger things in life than training and bobsled.  I spend a lot of time focusing on myself and the things I need to do to be a better athlete, so it is nice to step away from that and spend time helping other people.   I leave the club motivated to work harder in my training.  I want the kids to be proud of what I am doing and I want to show them that with hard work anything is possible.

3.You often talk about the need to "dig deep." What does this mean to you? How does one "dig deep"?
Digging deep is pushing yourself beyond the point you ever thought you could go.  For me, that often means pushing my body beyond its physical limitations and finding a way to convince my mind that my body can be pushed to that place.  This can be applied to any aspect of life.  It is about using your mind to dictate what in your life is possible and pushing yourself past any boundaries.    

4.You started your fundraising campaign with $5 from your sister. What advice can you give for those of us looking for support - not only financial - from our family, friends, and/or community?
I have learned that there are people out there that want to help and want to be a part of something that is important.  It is often hard to ask for help, but you will never receive it if you don’t ask.  My community has been incredibly supportive and is something I am thankful for every day.  It is also important to share your success with the people who have supported you.  I really want my community to feel they are as much a part of the Olympic movement as I am.  

5.What has been one of your biggest disappointments as an athlete? What can kids do to better deal with disappointment in life?
I always wanted to be a collegiate athlete and at the time my passion was soccer.   I did everything that I could do to make that soccer team.  I was one of the last people to be cut from the team.  At the time I was devastated, but I learned a lot from that experience and I believe that it happened for a reason.  I learned that once one path is closed it does not mean that you cannot still complete your goal.  I ended up trying out for the track team and had a successful track career.  It is easy to get discouraged when things don’t go the way you want, but there is always another way to make things happen.  I never would have thought I would be an Olympic Bobsledder, but I always wanted to be an Olympian, so I found a way to make it happen.

 6.What is the scariest thing you have had to do? Are you glad you did it?
 In 2006 I went out to Lake Placid, New York and had my first try out of the bobsled team.  I was terrified.  I had not even considered how the actual bobsled ride would be, but was instead scared of making a fool out of myself.  I was going to be face to face with some of the best bobsledders in the world and here I was attempting to insert myself with this elite group of athletes.  I knew if I did not take the risk and go out to the try out I would regret it my entire life.  I am glad I was able to put my fears at bay and complete the try out! 

Post Card sent on 10/15/2013!


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Is it worth the cost?

I know many Olympian and Olympic hopefuls that have spent their entire life’s savings and are in significant debt because of the cost of their sport.  This year alone I will have spent thousands of dollars on Ice time, supplements, travel and coaching.  This of course does not include the other unexpected expenses like dental fees or basic vehicle necessity that life will slap you with.  I am one of the luckier athletes.  I may not have dental insurance, but I do have health insurance through the United States Olympic Committee that covers most of my basic health costs and I am fortunate enough to spend my summers training at an Olympic Training Center where my living expenses are covered. 

Not all Olympic hopefuls are as fortunate.  Skeleton Athlete Annie O’Shea just recently turned 26 years old and is now not only faced with paying for her housing to participate in Olympic trials along with her expenses for the season, but is also needing to find a way to cover basic insurance.  Can you imagine sliding head first on ice without health insurance? 

Teammate Katelyn Kelly an upcoming bobsled driver has been in and out of Olympic Training Center housing throughout the summer and has spent countless days staying at a friend’s house and has even been caught in town sleeping in her car.  Both she and Annie have spent their summer waitressing 40 hours a week to pay for necessities to allow them to compete at all this season.  How is an athlete supposed to perform at the highest level when they are not getting adequate training and recovery?
These are just two of the many similar stories of the financial sacrifices made by athletes in hope of earning that elusive spot at the Olympic Games.  As difficult as it may be to shell out the cash each year and how stressful it is to not know where you will sleep it  is comforting to know that each and every day no matter what you do anything you can to get closer to the dream. 

I used to tease my teammates of being frugal, but the reality is we can afford only what we need.  We learn to get scrappy and live on very little means.  I love this sport and that is why I do it.  I have never done it for the pay check or lack thereof.  Katelyn and Annie may have a tougher path because of their financial burden, but like me I hope they think the cost is worth the reward.