Thinking back it all; from when my journey as an athlete first began, I never expected to be where I am today. I could’ve only hoped and dreamed.
When i was 8 years old, my dream first began. It was on the wrestling mat, after winning my first state title. My coach said, the words that would start it all, “Remember there will always be someone better”. I knew for a fact, at that moment, that I wanted to be the best. That’s where my Olympic dream grew. Once you win that gold medal on the Olympic stage, you are the best. From then on every moment was a dedication to bettering myself, while my Olympic wrestling dream grew with great successes and many failures.
Until the day in 2005, when a ATV accident during a fishing trip broke my back, paralyzing me. At 13 years old this moment was the of definition of fear and hopelessness. Though looking back on it now, it had defined and shaped the person I am today, in so many good ways. The process of recovery from an injury was difficult. There were trials and tribulation, especially only being 13 years old. I didn’t know where to go next or where this would lead me. Nevertheless, after work, focus and a family that stood behind me. I started walking again, at the age of 15. This was when my world opened up and possibilities started to flow. I became the Miracle Child for the Childrens Miracle Network. I traveled and spoke to many young children with uncertain futures. Each of them helped me to realize my own potential. That is when everything started to turn around. Two years from the date of my injury I realized I could live just as much or even more than most. Just in a different way, and there was nothing wrong with that.
This is when I realized pursuing my dreams was still possible, just in a different way. I had a physical therapist who took me Mono skiing for the first time. It brought back the dreams I had as a young child and I realized, it was possible to be a Paralympic Champion. Through the last 10 years from the time I was 15 and first got on snow. To now, I am 25, a world champion and overall globe winner. Ranked #1 in the world but still pursuing that one thing that seems to elude me, a Paralympic medal. There have been broken bones, and trials through the years. Breaking my back in Sochi and breaking my femur in Aspen to name a few. But through it all I learned more about myself. That I can make a difference. I can share my story and impact the lives of others. I came to the conclusion that everything that was happening to me, could be for a reason, if I decided to make it that way. That is what keeps me going as an athlete. Not the fact that I have always wanted to be the best. But by successfully completing this dream, I might just be able to make a difference. Bring the power of the human spirit to life and show others what they are truly capable of. That whatever trials are in their life, they can get through it. It just might take a change of perspective.
Looking back on the years and the times I have had. Good, bad and indifferent. It makes me smile. When I sit and contemplate on the present, with all of the training we have had as a team, in Switzerland and Austria. It makes me excited. To think of what the future will hold and how the training will pay off.
Over the summer we had an extensive power training program to increase our overall strength. With our camp at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs just ending, we had some great lactic acid and strength testing. Re-assuring that we are right on track for the season leading into Pyeong Chang. In December we will have our first world cups starting in St Moritz Switzerland and Kuhtai Austria. I am looking forward to a great year, and deep down I know this will be a great season. If I’m lucky I might just accomplish those dreams.