JULY 13, 2010

On many occasions I look around where ever I am and I think…how did this happen?!?  So many times my Night Train teammate Curt Tomasevicz and I look at each other in the middle of being able to do something amazing and say “really???,” or “look what we get to do!”  I’ve come to appreciate our country and it’s people more and more as every moment passes since our Olympic gold medal performance at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics over four months ago. 

I am writing this as I sit at my kitchen island at my home in Calgary, Alberta.  I moved to Calgary over seven years ago with no car, no money and no place to live because I knew being here, with my coach Stu McMillan, was the best shot I had at the Olympic glory I had longed for since I was 11 years old. This experience has been like nothing I ever imagined as I trained in the dark gyms and raced on the cold bobsled tracks around the world for the past decade.  Now, I’ve been asked by the U.S. Olympic Committee to blog and vlog (can you say that?  Or is video blog better?  I think I’m going to stick with vlog from here on out regardless) about my experience traveling the states sharing our country’s first Olympic bobsled championship in 62 years.

I’ve had the opportunity to sit in my kitchen for a grand total of 23 days over the past nine months.  Five of those months were without one visit to my adopted home during our season.  I love this kitchen.  I put the floors in, painted the walls, replaced the counters and built the island that’s supporting this computer right now.  About 6 hours ago I was on a plane heading back here from New York City after being there for less than 48 hours.  I am glad to be home but I already miss where I’ve been.

The weekend in New York was filled with a Today Show appearance and a visit to Citi Field to see my childhood team, the Mets! (refer to vlog) It was amazing.  But the best part was that I got to spend the entire day and a half I was in New York with my little sister.  She loves it when I refer to her as my little sister, so there ya go Leigh!  I moved away from my parents’ house on a scholarship to the Universityof Florida when I was 17 and she and I haven’t lived within a thousand miles of each other since.  I take her everywhere I can when we’re together, this time bringing her back stage at the Today Show and on the field for Mets batting practice (the Mets were so kind as to let us hang out for a couple hours on the field before the game).  She even ran into who she jokingly refers to as “her second husband” David Wright of the Mets.  Her husband really loves that reference to say the least.  But then I had to get on a plane this morning and just like that, our time together was over and done until next time.

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If there’s one thing I didn’t realize would be such a sacrifice it would be being so far away from family for so long, but as we walked with my uncle and cousin out of Citi Field after a disheartening 4-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves I was reminded of one of the many reasons why I do what I do.  

The usher in our section realized that I was a member of Team Night Train on our way out of the stadium, thanks to an upstate New Yorker who saw the Today Show that morning.  Her frown from the loss was instantly turned into a smile when I pulled the medal that was in my pocket out to let her hold it.  She very nervously asked for a picture and sweetly had the hardest time figuring out how to get her camera phone to work.  After she got it down, we took the picture, she thanked me and we headed out as she was still grinning. 

As we walked out my sister turned to me and said “That’s so cool what you get to do now, you just made her day.  That must be so much fun to do that everyday.”  I could only smile and think how nice it is to be back in my home country, if only for a day and after all of those years of being away …now look what I get to do.