Olympian, Snowboarding 1998 & 2002
I retired from competition in 2006 and since then have been processing my experience as a competitive snowboarder. Transitions aren’t usually easy in general and retirement is no exception. Like many athletes, we live and breathe our sport for most of our lives and when we decide to move on to other endeavors there is often a space left where our sport lived inside us.
Of course, the sport isn’t gone. I still snowboard, especially during our snowy Oregon winters but it’s different now. I don’t focus my attention so heavily on my strict eating habits and workouts, preparing for competitions and recovering from injuries. While I still eat well and exercise, I now look for ways to use my experience in my sport as a platform for something good.
Believe me, I don’t like to go around tooting my own horn but if a child will listen to something I have to say because I’m an Olympian than I can put my discomfort aside. I was reminded of this while I spoke to two middle schools in my home town of Hood River. I went to the cafeteria to meet some of the kids the day that I was to speak and was initially met with questioning looks. “Who’s this lady sitting at my table?” I started talking to the kids and when I told them I was speaking at the assembly their faces lit up.
Middle school can be a tough time for kids, it was for me. If I can reach a couple kids or help influence a few kids to make good choices than my efforts are worthwhile. Seeing these kids reaction to the “O – word” fires me up. You can bet I’ll be out there walking with those kids over the next few weeks.