My life as an athlete has been a small amount of luck, a hell of a lot of hard work and an indefinite amount of sacrifice. I wish I could say that an Olympic athlete’s life is as glamorous as society would assume, but our jobs are a bit unorthodox and often times leave us with no stability. When I started sliding I never expected this being a ‘career’ choice that was going to make me money, but instead I was lured in my the idea of competing for my country. After my first season in the sport I had 12 cents in my bank account. Thanks to the support of my hometown Chico, California I was able to raise money and train full time as an athlete. This ultimately helped for me to get the training equipment and coaching I needed to make the 2010 Olympic Team. I remember lying wide awake in bed after walking in the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games in 2010. I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning. This was the moment I concluded that every single sacrifice was worth it for that one moment. I knew then that I wanted to work even harder to work towards earning a spot to Sochi, Russia in 2014.
After the Vancouver Games I have grown physically and mentally and truly learned how to be an elite athlete. It is equally important to focus on recovery and diet as it is the physical training. Our sport is measured by hundredths, so maintaining a strict sports medicine regimen, food plan and sleep schedule can be what makes the difference between making an Olympic Team and not. This routine can be cumbersome and usually takes precedence over nights out with friends and family. At this point I have to be somewhat selfish so that I can perform at the highest level for each individual training session. I have felt very fortunate over the years to have friends and family who are very understanding and supportive. They are willing to be ‘part time friends’ while I go after my Olympic dreams.
There are no words that can explain what it feels like to have U.S.A written on your back. To me, every workout, every tear shed and every family event missed is worth it for those few seconds that I push the sled knowing I am not just doing it for myself, but for my entire country. The dream is what pushes me every single day and is what helps me to make the hard decision to put my life on hold. I now truly understand and have lived the concept ‘for the love of the game.’