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"It’s Simple – Hit The Ball" (11/19/12)

Katie Uhlaender
Winning gold at the Park City World Cup race!
Ted uhlaender
 My dad's baseball card
 Katie uhlaender and her dad
Me and my dad, Ted Uhlaender

Why do I deserve to win?  It is not that I am more talented, stronger, faster, or have the best lines down the icy bobsled tracks (however all of those things help); it is something else, something that many people forget when they walk to the start line preparing to leave all they’ve worked for there on the ice that day.  At the elite level, everyone there has the ability to walk away with a medal.  What many of them forget is that it’s not just you on the start line racing; it’s every one that believes in you.  This is something I knew in the past, but had not really manifested for me until now.

When my father was alive it was easy to keep his words of advice close and to think of how he might have reacted in such high-pressure situations.  I would think of him and try to be like him – especially when he would tell stories like the one recalling his first major league at bat in Yankee stadium.  He told me that his knees wouldn’t stop shaking, there were 60,000 fans in the stands, and Mickey Mantle was in the outfield.  He had to take a step out of the batter’s box and breathe because of how badly he was shaking.  He couldn’t hold the bat steady.  His advice to me early in my career was to realize what he did in that moment in Yankee stadium; he was doing nothing different than the legends of baseball before him, he did the same thing they did – walked with two legs up to the batters box.  There was only one thing left to do, that one thing was no different than what the men before him had done – step up to the plate and hit the ball.

He told me that it's simple.  I’m taking the same steps as every legend before me did, and the only thing left to do was “hit the ball.”  It doesn’t matter what sport.  It was his way of reminding me that I’m doing nothing different from my competitors, all I have to be willing to do is what I came to do…go as fast as I can on a sled.  It’s pretty simple.  So now, when I walk to the start line it’s with confidence knowing I’ve done all that I can, and all that what’s left to do is simple.  Go sledding.  The way I keep my nerves calm now is by keeping it simple, and reminding myself that I’m not alone.  I have my father with me more than ever before now. He’s left me with all the tools I need to succeed in sport and life; but it’s not just him.  It’s everyone that’s believed in me from the beginning.  When I walk to the line, I have an edge because of the support and belief that comes with me from my family, friends, coaches and country.  But now more than ever I feel my Dad’s love with me on the start line.