No time to rest this offseason
It’s official: The season is over.
We wrapped up in mid-March with a pretty fun finale — a friendly co-ed national championship race where I teamed up with my fiance Nic Taylor as brakeman to race against Katie Eberling (my brakeman at the world championships this year) and Steve Holcomb, the No. 1 driver in the world on the men’s side. And get this: We tied over two runs. Bobsled can be a pretty high-pressure sport, so it was nice to close it down with a fun competition just to see what would happen.
And now it’s on to the offseason, though it’s hardly “off.”
Bobsledding is an expensive sport. As a driver you have to have two or three sets of runners (the blades that go on the sled), and each one costs at least $5,000. And then there’s the cost of traveling and training. During the season, all your travel and training expenses are covered — as long as you’re in the first- or second-ranked sled. But you have to foot the bill to get yourself to that point.
I’m heading out to Arizona in April to work with a new coach there, and will be in Calgary for at least a month this summer leading up to our push championships (which determine the top ranked sleds), and that’s all on my dime.
So needless to say, we have to be creative with our revenue streams. I do everything from substitute teaching to blogging to speaking appearances, and it all pretty much goes back into the sport. It can be frustrating because I’m not able to afford some of the things other 28-year-olds have, but right now I’m trying to represent my country to the best of my ability, so that’s my focus.
I was just at my alma mater, George Washington University, speaking on a panel with a sports psychologist and a sports nutritionist about body image among female athletes. I think every athlete struggles with that at some point in his or her career. Bobsledders are big athletes, and I’m a big athlete. My dad was a football player, and I’ve been the same size since eighth grade, so I get how it can be hard when you don’t fit in with the “normal-size” girls, or your butt and legs are too big for normal-size jeans.
But as athletes, we have to learn to appreciate what our bodies do for us. People win medals in all shapes and sizes! And I can’t help but say that finding a fiance who loves me unconditionally at any size has played a huge role in my body confidence.
I’m also working on my MBA through DeVry University’s Keller Graduate School of Management. The U.S. Olympic Committee started this program last February that provides tuition assistance to athletes so we can work toward degrees while competing in our sport. It’s flexible and I can take just one class at a time, but ultimately, it helps me to make sure I’m getting prepared to get a job and provide for myself financially when I retire from bobsledding.
And did I mention I have a wedding to plan before the season starts up again? My mom is pushing me to get as much as possible done ahead of time since DJs and photography are the last things I need to be thinking about when the Olympic season gets going.
I have my dress already, but I honestly didn’t realize all the planning that goes into a wedding. All those TV shows like “Say Yes to the Dress” make it look so easy! I know nothing about flowers, for example, but thankfully my mom is good at that stuff and my older sister already got married so she’s been through it before.
I do know I want to get married in my parents’ front yard in Georgia, and the colors are going to be different shades of pink. Nic and I are both pretty laid back though — it’s going to be a small wedding and then hopefully a huge party with all our friends.
There's lots of "real world" stuff going on in this offseason, but all of these normal hassles also help remind me why I love bobsledding so much. I'm running around now so that I can focus next season. One Olympic gold medal is all that's standing between me and wedded bliss! So 2014, here I come.