Steppin’ Up To The Plate (12/18/13)

BY KATIE UHLAENDER

My nephew Wesley Scott Uhlaender, and that right there is what
life is about. He knows how to keep a smile on his face, and my
big brother Scott reminded me that is what will make me fast.
Sledding is for kids.
The kids from the farm reminding me that I am setting an example
for them and other kids aspiring to chase their dreams. It's not
going to be easy, and quitting and doing something else would be
the easy way out at this point. It's important to see through what
you start and put all you have into it.
Mellissa Hollingsworth is on my right and she was the reason I
went to Canada to get help in the first place. The Olympics go
beyond borders.
Me with Anja Huber. She is an bronze medalist from Vancouver,
a friend, and someone who has reminded me what competing is
about. Great sports woman. Plus we both have red hair!

My father played baseball and taught me the challenges of the sport. The challenge to baseball and the challenges we all face in life or our careers are the same. At many points in our lives we are facing the world against the odds, and this is the situation I face now. I'm racing to the Olympics against the odds, but the key is I have two choices... quit, try or just give it all I have. I am choosing to do the latter. However, it is easier said than done.

I never knew what the effects of recovering from a concussion could be like. My inner ear and my vision are affected as well as my autonomic system. Meaning I am relearning once again how to approach my sport. I am not sure what is easier — a twice shattered knee cap and a broken heart — or a brain that isn't quite 100 percent. At least with the kneecap, I knew when I was back. This injury is much more confusing. The thing that has been giving me the most motivation is that this time I do not feel so alone. All my family, friends, fans, USOC, Liberty Mutual Insurance and my federation are behind my fight. I said I couldn't guarantee a medal, but that I would guarantee that I would do my best and make losing hard. I stand by that. I just needed to figure out how to do that.

My approach now is to go out, give it all I have and have fun while I do it. It's easy to give advice to kids or other people on how to pick themselves up and go for it, but when you are in it, it is much harder to take your own advice. Especially with an injury you can't see. I am still me, and I whole heartedly believe that if any one person puts all they have in to what they are doing they will come out on top — whether it is by inadvertently creating more opportunities, inspiring others or actually succeeding at their current goals. Only good can come from putting good out in to the world. Last Olympic year I was bitter at the world for giving me so many challenges to face: losing my father, my foundation, the person in my life I'd turn to figure out what to do next. Then, six weeks later, shattering my kneecap and a few months after that shattering it again. I lost my warrior spirit and my physical abilities as an elite athlete, but I did not quit. However, I was bitter. If I could do it again I'd do it with all I had without bitterness and regret. This unfortunate accident has given me that chance.

The amount of support and help I am getting from my team, the Carrick Brain Center, the USOC, my fans and family is overwhelming me with the obligation to go out to the line and give it all I have. What I have is about 55 percent of what I could be, but it's what I have right now and I owe all of that to my country and to myself. I am going to finish this first half of the world cup season going out there and giving it everything I have.

Second half I will be gaining every race, and treating every run as a training run for Sochi. I am grateful for the opportunity. This time around it is important for me to have fun, and sled downhill as fast as I can and have fun, because that is what life is about; putting my best out there and seeing what happens. I can do nothing else, and I thank everyone that is behind me to continue to motivate me to do so without being bitter or angry that I know I have another 50 percent of myself to gain back in time for the only race that matters this season. I have 50 days till that race, and I am a warrior with purpose.