I was reminded this weekend of how faithful God is when things really seem to not be going my way.
Saturday I was incredibly honored and touched to be inducted into this years Hall of Fame at Wayne State College. My athletic career at WSC did not start out with roses, but because I gave God my pain, I was fortunate enough to end my career at Wayne with more roses than I could have imagined.
The first year of my college volleyball season, I stood on the sideline and watched the 3 other freshman that were in my recruiting class play. Almost every game I held back tears as I stood there on the sideline. I was embarrassed, let down, and frankly, heartbroken. This is not how I pictured my college career to start.
Through my tears though, I silently prayed, asking God to not let this be how my athletic career ends. I prayed for miracles! I prayed for Him to make me the BEST college volleyball player Wayne has ever seen.
Sophomore season came, and I played a little more but half of my time was still on the sideline. I felt crushed, still, basically begging God to do something but not really sure how anything good could come from this.
The summer going into my Junior year, out of the blue I had an idea that I was going to quit volleyball and run track. (Looking back, I know it wasn’t out of the blue, that was a God designed moment.) I instantly felt like weights were lifted off of me. I called my volleyball coach (Coach Kneifl) and asked him if we could talk.
He knew what I was thinking before I even said anything. I think he could see the heartbreak that I had felt. But instead of quitting, by the Grace of God and his huge heart, he allowed me to continue to play volleyball but also run track in the offseason.
I didn’t become the best volleyball player Wayne ever had, but God did have a different plan. He opened the door to run track where I became a 4-time NCAA All-American. The confidence I gained from track carried over to volleyball and I was a better volleyball player. I gained a track family but I kept my volleyball family and THAT in itself, makes me want to cry because they are still my best friends.
I wouldn’t take back the time on the sideline because it stretched how much I trusted God, it made me a fighter and it showed me that no matter what, God will take your pain and do something great with it.
This Hall of Fame honor will always remind me of so much more than the awards, but more so the fight- not just the physical fight but the fight of faith. The fight against the devil who tried to tell me over and over my career was over and I was had hit my peak in high school. Thankfully, God has conquered this world, and if you fight with God on your team, you are guaranteed to eventually win.
Read: WSCWildcats.com - Four individuals, one team to be inducted into WSC Athletic Hall of Fame this weekend
Four months ago, I walked out of the CenturyLink office doors for the last time. As fate would have it, I was able to leave my full time job on positive terms and chase this wild little bobsled journey I started on last year.
I moved to Lake Placid in July to live and train at the Olympic Training Center. To fill up some of my spare time and make some extra cash, I walk a half mile to the Marriott Hotel and work as a barista a few mornings a week. Besides being on high alert on my morning walks because of Mr. Black Bear that keeps being spotted around campus, I love the simple life right now. I focus on getting myself mentally, physically and spiritually in the best place I can be, and it feels so good. It’s amazing what 10 hours of sleep a night can do to a person (I am sleeping before my nieces and nephew most nights! True statement.)
There are no guarantees in this athlete life, but there is one thing I can count on, and its Gods plan like Drake says (Ha!). I found myself stressing over which team I would make, if I was strong enough or fast enough, or just plain good enough for this lifestyle. After spending time with God and wanting to enjoy this process, I wrote this on my letter board to look at every day as a reminder:
Do the best you can
Then say F* it.
Gods got it.
Really, that’s all we can do in life in any situation. It definitely takes practice - a lot of it - to trust God fully. Still working on that and probably always will be because, I mean, I’m human.
If you could squeeze in a prayer for me, I’d appreciate it, and if there is something I can pray for you about, please let me know.
365 days ago, I was listening to Pastor Joel Osteen radio on Sirius XM 128 and I heard the story of Vonetta Flowers (American bobsledder) which planted the seed of bobsled in my heart. I remember exactly the moment I heard it (I was at the stoplight at 168th and Maple in Omaha, NE, going to my brother’s house) and I also remember the season I was going through at that time.
I’ve always heard the devil fights hardest when you are closest to your breakthrough. Well, I 100% agree with that. I was in an absolute state of survival at this point in my life. The devil had been attacking me from every angle. I felt stuck, alone, confused and hurt for a few months before this, and especially the two weeks prior to hearing this message. The only way I got through the day was waking up and listening to Joyce Meyer, Christian music and Joel Osteen radio while I drove, podcasts during work and phone calls with my mom. I had something encouraging playing the whole time I was awake, it was the only way I got through the day.
Looking back, if I hadn’t been going through all that, there is a strong chance I wouldn’t have been listening to Pastor Joel that Tuesday evening in my car. I listen to Joyce, Joel and Christian music anyway, but since it was an absolute necessity at this point in my life, God was making sure I didn’t miss this! Little did I know in that moment, my life was going to completely change.
I didn’t win a gold in the Olympics, but I got to live a life I couldn’t have even dreamed of - and still am. I am so thankful (now) for that tough season I went through. During that season I felt like things were never going to change and I was convinced my dreams were bigger than Gods plan. Today, 365 days later, I am reminded that Gods ways are so much higher than mine (Isaiah 55:8-9).
I couldn't find the broadcast message that I heard on the radio, but I found the article on JoelOsteen.com that is pretty much the same thing as I listened to a year ago today. I hope this message encourages you: You Can Trust God’s Faithfulness by Joel Osteen.
What a journey this has been, and to think that my first season is over is crazy and sad all at the same time. I would honestly do it all over. These past 8 months have been some of my favorite.
It is especially cool for me because I was living out some prayers that I had started praying about four years ago. I prayed to travel the world and not to be done with athletics, not knowing that I would get to travel and be competing in bobsled at the same time! God always out-does Himself.
The end of the season was special for me too. I ended the season with two gold medals at the last competition, one with each pilot. It was especially memorable for me because Lake Placid is the track that almost made me call it quits after my first slide down. So, to win two golds on the Lake Placid track just reminded me that anything God brings you to, He will bring you through.
So, what’s next?
I’ll continue to train and get ready for next season. I hope to make it up to Calgary once or twice to practice at the Ice House with some of my teammates this spring. Push Championships are held there and this is where they get your individual push times as well.
Oh yeah… my next goal?
Make the World Cup Team for the next three years.
Thanks for following my season! XOXO.
A little about the tracks we slid on in Europe:
La Plagne, France
15 curves, 14 timed (One of the curves is part of the breaking stretch)
St. Moritz, Switzerland
These curves are named, not numbered (Sunny, Horseshoe, Telephone, etc.)
Telephone got its name because so many people would crash out of Horseshoe they would have to call for help. This track is built up every year with only snow. Also, this is where bobsleigh started.
We hit (but didn’t crash, though) so hard out of the curve called Horseshoe in Switzerland I literally saw stars. I made a really loud “ughhhh” sound and my pilot heard. We laugh about it now. I’m just excited I don’t get dizzy anymore. Thank you, Jesus.
A few things about the trip:
Nutella is everywhere and served everywhere. Like butter in America.
You don’t see pickup trucks anywhere.
It snowed 90% of the time.
I slid with the Australian pilot going to this year’s games and also a former World Cup German pilot (male) for practice/fun.
In Austria, we had no dryer for our clothes, but our floors were heated.
McDonald’s have bakery’s in them here.
You need a prescription for ibuprofen.
Chow means hello and goodbye. That can get confusing.
Anywhere we went we got asked if we wanted still water or prickled (sparking).
An interesting conversation I had:
Bob? No, sparkling.
(When you don’t know another language, obsessed with sparkling water and in a grocery store...
I was looking at the waters, an employee saw my coat and said Bob? I thought he meant what kind of water do I want so I said, “no, sparkling” and from then on he thought I did Skeleton.)
We spent Christmas at our Swiss pilot friend’s house and with our Australians in Lucerne, Switzerland.
It’s interesting how all other countries know their language and pretty fluent in English too. I’m just like, well, I know what “mas o menos” means in Spanish. I really need to learn other languages.
You realize how everything is so convenient in America. For example, I will not miss scrambling for Euro/Swiss Franc to use the bathroom at a gas station.
I have to carry around my helmet, spikes and booty covers (aka rubber covers for my I-spikes) in my carry-on luggage. Makes for a heavy bag, me being uncomfortably hot and extra security checks.
It’s crazy to think I have friends from so many different countries now; Australia, Austria, Germany, France, Romania, Switzerland.
Incredibly thankful for travel. On the flight home, I was overwhelmed with just how faithful God is. I’ve prayed for years to not be done with athletics and also to travel the world, not knowing how either would ever happen. These last 8 months I’ve gotten just a taste of how much bigger God’s plans are for me than I have for myself.
From the friendly blue skies, XOXO.
P.S. If anyone is curious about bobsledding or has questions, feel free to ask! I had a million when I started.
La Plagne, France
December 14, 2017
It snows everyday. Around 32 F / O C. Track is located way up in the French Alps.
Race day is tomorrow. Unfortunately, I lost my race off by 1/100th of a second to Kyle, so she will be the brakeman for Kristi in tomorrow’s race.
Not going to lie, I was really upset. I wanted to race. Of course, we both came here for this day. But, I have to remember that it was all planned out by the big man upstairs and good can still come out of all of this. Plus, Kyle has worked her butt off to get to race, and deserves to. When Kristi and I won in Calgary, Kyle cried in happiness.
Tomorrow is my time to “cry” for them. I love these two girls and excited to cheer them on.
Shared joy, is double joy.
Things I say on repeat when life doesn’t go my way...
1. He will work all things work out for good (Romans 8:28)
2. He knows the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4)
3. He will do more than we can even dream or imagine (Ephesians 3:20)
Tomorrow after the race, we leave to visit Lake Como in Italy and then head to St. Moritz, Switzerland. St. Moritz is the only “natural” track in the world. Literally, built up every year with just snow.
From La Ploo (our nickname for this place), XoXo!
Germany -> Switzerland -> France
Europa Cup / La Plagne, France
December 8th, 2017
First thing’s first:
Jet lag is real.
Not knowing a lick of German or French makes everything tricky.
I swear everything has chocolate in it and it’s turned into a biscuit or cookie of some kind. Not complaining.
In the ‘start house’ at the track in France, men and woman share one public restroom. Walking into the room named “toilets” and having a guy friend follow me in is…interesting.
We are driving a large cargo van (U-haul) to drive our sled place to place. That means, for the 8+ hour trips, we sit three deep in the front seat.
People drive fast on the autobahn.
You can order as much wine as you please at dinner, for free. Just staying.
I flew into Frankfurt, drove to Winterberg, Germany with Kristi and Kyle (like the boys name, but a girl..LOL). We picked up a sled we rented from the German team and headed out the next day to La Plagne, France. We left at 11am and got into La Plagne at 2:30am. Besides the every hour stop to use the restrooms (that you have to pay to use), we also got lost in the mountains.
We slid for the first time today. My run was smooth and I was able to ‘count the curves’ and know where I was. The pressures can be intense here (kind of like sitting on the floor with your legs straight out, bending over, and then someone stepping on your back). We have a few more days of training before the race on the 15th. Kristi is the pilot and then Kyle and I have push off’s to see who will slide on race day.
I have had 'heart eyes' the whole time I've been here in France. It is stunning.
From the French Alps, XOXO.
Park City, Utah
December 3, 2017
The rollercoaster ride: not just the actual slides but the highs and lows of being in athletics.
From Whistlers crash, I was fortunate to have better outcomes in Calgary. I took a 4th place with Nicole Vogt and a gold with Kristi Koplin. Standing on the podium while they play the winning team’s national anthem makes me stare straight forward and not look around because I would start crying.
Not only am I extremely honored, and feel under qualified to be representing the USA, but I am overwhelmed with the way God has answered my prayers. For years I didn’t think I was done with athletics, but didn’t know what to do. I didn’t even have a gym membership and I definitely didn’t have bobsled on the radar. One by one, and years of waiting (literally 4), doors started to open.
Calgary was a high moment, and then Park City was a low. North American brakeman did not get to compete because the World Cup team was there. It was tough to not get a chance to compete but that is just how works. The World Cup brakeman are obviously on the World Cup for a reason, and God already knew they were going to race anyway :)
Off to Europe! Heading to the track in La Plagne, France. We will have race-offs when we get there to see who will race. Either way, I am excited for this adventure. I’ll celebrate my 28th birthday and 2017 Christmas in Europe.
You could’ve given me 3 million guesses last year on where I would be in a year, this wouldn’t have made the list.
Thanks for the support. XOXO.
Whistler, BC, Canada
November 4, 2017
This was the first race of my bobsled career. I slid with Pilot Kristi Koplin.
Race day is a different feel. There are more emotions and the hype is there. I put on my speed suit, burn vest, helmet, ice spikes and mouth guard and we were ready.
We pushed, jumped in, had the smoothest first 6 turns, and then I heard Kristi say “sh**” and then the sound of the sled dragging on the ice.
This is it. This is what it feels like to crash.
I held on tight and screamed. We flipped back and forth from one side to another and at one point we were in upside down. We made it cross the finish line and the track workers caught us.
I got out and was fine. My shoulders were burnt from the ice burn but I wasn’t dizzy at all. Like, the least dizzy I had ever been after a ride. Now looking at it, it was adrenaline. Kristi got pretty beat up. Her ankle, finger and head. We ended up not taking a second run because she wasn’t feeling well at all. The best part of it all, they ended up canceling the second run (which never happens), for reasons I am unsure of (so many crashes I think), and so we didn’t get disqualified.
To top it off, we ran a killer start time: 5.27. We had the fastest of anyone. God was sure watching out for us. The brakeman
normally take it pretty hard hit when they tip, especially from as high up as we were on the track (turn 7).
My shoulders are in rough shape this morning though (11/5). I am excited to just go watch today and cheer on Team USA!
November 2, 2017
NAC Bobsleigh Tour
-1.6 C or 29 degrees F
Whistler, British Colombia, Canada -- breathtaking beautiful. This is the first stop of the NAC tour.
There are 2 pilots here and 4 of us brakeman. This is really a blue-collar sport; we lift, transport and work on the sleds ourselves. The two pilots rented trucks so we could transport the sleds from our garage to the track. The sleds weigh about 400 lbs.
I took two slides on Nov 1. I was just as nervous as before because it had been a week plus since I slid and the last time. Lake Placid is the roughest and most technical track in the world but Whistler is the fastest…awesome. LOL!
The two slides went great. You could feel the speed! We went 86 mph or 133 km. I was dizzy though. I think because it was my first time on this new track, it was dark when I slid, and I didn’t know what to expect.
Today we have a race off to see who gets to be the brakeman for the pilots on race day. It snowed like 4-6” last night!