|Prowler workout on Fourth of July|
|Me and brakeman Aja Evans hugging after final run at world champs|
|2013 World Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland|
It has been a great few weeks of team spirit, patriotism, remembrance and celebration. These last few activities I have had the pleasure of taking part in have left me thinking, reminiscing and asking, as well as answering, insightful questions. Since my last blog I have attended USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa at Drake Stadium to cheer on hurdling bobsled teammate Lolo Jones in the 100m hurdles as well as the rest of Team USA track & field athletes as they geared up trying to qualify for the worlds team (attending this event was something on my bucket list — check!), celebrated Olympic Day — of course doing something I love and continue to push myself to be the best at…bobsledding, and I celebrated Independence Day in an historic town filled with Olympic spirit and American pride. It was pretty great. The Olympic Training Center asked me to make the banner for the athlete float this year.
All this team and national pride got me thinking. Throughout our chaotic lives we often forget what “it’s” all about. Holidays like Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day are all spread out throughout the year to remind us of “it.” What is “it” you may ask? Well, for me, “it” cannot be summed up into just one word. “It” is the name on the back of my uniform — “USA”; the soldiers that fought for the greater good to preserve the cornerstones our nation was built on — freedom, integrity, truth and opportunity; the coaches and teachers who always encouraged me to think outside the box and maximize my full potential. “It” is that little kid who recognizes you and tells you that you’re their hero because of your story of perseverance and resilience. The opportunities that we so often take advantage of that are at our fingertips because we get caught up in what we don’t have versus what we do have compared to the rest of human society around the world.
I come from a tremendous mix of cultures. Being biracial, one side of my family is from Eastern Europe and the other is from parts of Western Europe and the Caribbean. Needless to say, I’m a melting pot. But the constants that remain in our family values are hard work and jumping on opportunity. My father immigrated to the United States in his mid 20’s looking exactly for “it.” A life where through hard work, dedication and perseverance rose opportunity to success, fair discretion and the ability to provide for himself and his family. On my mother’s side of the family all the men seemed to be involved in every division of the military. This is where the attitude “if you want it, you work for it; if you’ve got it, you share it; if somebody tells you ‘you can’t,’ you prove them wrong and inspire” was instilled in me.
Whether we do individual sports, team sports, are looking to empower ourselves or be the catalyst to help others be their best, that “it” moment happens where you realize we are all one, representing something so much bigger than ourselves. The name on my uniform is “USA.” When the crowd chants at races they say “U-S-A.” When I am at the line facing the world’s most elite, I am representing all of America and in that moment I am reminded that I bleed… but it’s red, white and blue.
Representing the single parent, the blue collar worker, the misunderstood adolescent, the preacher, the doctor, the coaches, the teachers, the parents, the regular average “Joe,” those we’ve lost — we athletes of Team USA carry you all with us on the world’s stage every time we compete with honor, pride, privilege, support and hard work, hoping to do you justice through our efforts of athletic parlous and competition.
At the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, it doesn’t matter where exactly my roots originated from… I was made and bred in America and UNITED I stand! Go USA!
The goal throughout my blogs is to bring up topics and pose questions that might encourage us all to look and think outside the box or gain a new perspective. Once I heard of the opportunity to be a winter athlete blogger for Team USA, I made the decision to not just blog about Jazmine — the USA women’s bobsled pilot and 2014 Olympic hopeful, but to blog about all who I am, the good, bad and crazy, the journey towards Sochi 2014 and the journey of my life relating it to all of you back home. Thanks for taking the time to read, and I hope that each blog leaves you with new insight and inspiration for your own path!