Team USA Athletes Share Words Of Wisdom From Their Dads

By Lisa Costantini | June 19, 2015, 6:53 p.m. (ET)
Chellsie Memmel and her father, Andy Memmel


Olympic and Paralympic athletes admit that it takes a team to help them reach the highest level of competition. And one of the most important members helping them succeed is dad. Whether he sat in the stands or stood next to them, they all agree that father knows best. In honor of Father’s Day, we asked 28 Team USA athletes to share the best advice their pops have ever given them. After you read them you’ll see where so many athletes get their strength and their sense of humor. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!


Louie Vito and his father, Lou Vito

Olympic halfpipe snowboarder Louie Vito: “The advice I got from my father is the quote I live by — and have a coin with it engraved that I always travel with. It is ‘If you’re good enough, they can’t ignore you.’ Think about it — you can apply that to every aspect of life. No matter how much people want to overlook you, it will come to a point where you will be so good and doing so well they can’t ignore you anymore.”

Twelve-time Olympic swimming medalist Natalie Coughlin: “Being a cop with a martial arts background, my father was constantly teaching me self-defense. Fortunately, I’ve never needed to use this knowledge, but I know where to strike a person to make the biggest impact and how to use a flashlight as a self-defense weapon. Daddy’s little (tomboy) girl!”

Judo coach and two-time Olympic bronze medalist Jimmy Pedro: “My father had some classic lines in my life, but one that always stuck out with me was, ‘Anybody can be beaten on any given day. You just need to make up your mind that you are going to be the one that is going to beat them!’”

Olympic gymnastics silver medalist Chellsie Memmel (who was coached by her father): “My dad has taught me so much and I wouldn't be the person I am today without him. Before I would go onto the floor to compete at an event, he would say, ‘Have fun, I'll see you at the finish line’ — simple but effective in always giving me a confidence boost before competing.”

Olympic field hockey hopeful Paul Singh: “Always be humble and don’t worry about what the opponent thinks of you.”

2013 U.S. figure skating champion Max Aaron: “No matter what you do in life, ALWAYS give it everything you have and no matter what happens, I’ll still be proud of you."

Five-time Paralympic swimming medalist Aimee Bruder: “My parents showed and told me that there is no substitute for hard work. The efforts put in are also done in the shadows. That is, in the early morning to late at night when no one is watching.”

Olympic field hockey hopeful Alex Grassi: “Relax and have fun out there. That's when you play your best. Also, don't forget to put on sunblock.”

Olympic taekwondo bronze medalist Paige McPherson: “He always says something like, ‘Go out there and have some fun. Trust that the Lord has a plan, so go give it your all.’”

Olympic gymnast Jake Dalton: “Some of the best advice I ever got from my father came from watching him. He was a quiet person, but his actions spoke for him. He is always working hard and is a selfless person who did everything he could to help people around him.”

Olympic figure skating bronze medalist Jason Brown: “Two of my favorite quotes from my dad are: ‘Your success comes from your passion and commitment. Do what you love and love what you do.’ And the other one is: ‘Stay true to yourself, keep focused on what’s important to you (not what others may want) and continue to dream. Life’s a rollercoaster and for those who embrace it, the ride can be amazing.’”

Olympic field hockey player Katie O’Donnell: “I wouldn't be here today without everything my dad has taught me, including how to be humble, dedicated and, of course, selfless. He never forced these lessons on me but taught me through example. I couldn't ask for a better role model in my life! Happy Father's Day, Dad!”

Paralympic wheelchair basketball player Jennifer Chew: “Take care of business!”


Shannon Miller and her father, Ron Miller

Seven-time Olympic gymnastics medalist Shannon Miller: “At one of my first competitions, I ran over to my dad after two events and asked what score I needed to win. He looked at me (trying to find an appropriate answer for his competitive daughter) and said ‘Shannon, it doesn't matter what the score is. Go out there and try you best during every routine.’ I'm not sure I ever looked at another score. Instead I simply gave 100 percent every time out. That advice has served me well in my career and in life.”

Olympic field hockey player Michelle Kasold: “Dream big and never give up! My dad has always supported me through all the ups and downs and encourages me to work even harder each time I fall. The best part is sharing all my achievements because none of them would be possible without him! Thanks, Dad! Love you!”

Olympic badminton player Paula Lynn Obanana: “My dad always tells/reminds me: ‘Paula, in order to attain your goal, you need to have virtues of self-discipline, patience, perseverance and dedication to what you are doing.’”

Four-time Olympic swimming medalist Nathan Adrian: “My dad used to always say ‘Never stay angry. Being angry is big waste of time and energy.’”

Olympic figure skating bronze medalist Gracie Gold: “Do your best and forget the rest.”

Olympic golf hopeful Brittany Lincicome: “Probably ‘never give up.’ Golf is so hard. Even when I was little and I had a bad week, he’d take the clubs away from me and I wasn’t allowed to play until I really wanted to play. Even now, you have good days and bad days, and having him remind me that there’s always another day to play and have a better day tomorrow is the best supporting advice I could get.”

Badminton player Jamie Subandhi: “My dad used to coach me at every tournament when I was a junior and I think the best advice he's given me is this: There are two parts to the game — mental and physical. The mental part is AT LEAST (he always emphasized that) 50 percent of the game and you constantly need to be thinking about your strategy as you play. This advice always helped me overcome opponents who would otherwise have overpowered me. Thanks, Dad!”

Pan American Games judo team member Nick Delpopolo: “The whole point of judo is to throw your opponent on their back for an instant win. Of course this is easier said than done, yet my dad constantly tells me ‘Nicky, just throw them!’ Makes me smile.”

Paralympic wheelchair basketball player Rose Hollermann: “One of the things that my dad always told me was to work hard. He constantly encourages me to train harder than everyone else and enjoy the sport I'm lucky enough to play. Being humble is one of the most important things to him. During game, I can always hear him yelling, ‘Shoot with confidence, Rose.’”

Pan American Games judo team member Nina Cutro-Kelly: “It might not have been advice, but the best thing my dad ever did was when I was a kid, frustrated at me getting kicked out of ballet, art class and Little League he said, ‘Let's put her in judo, at least she won't get in trouble for knocking kids down.’” 


David Boudia and his daughter, Dakoda

Olympic diving gold medalist David Boudia: “Something my father always says that I will pass on to my daughter is: ‘You always make time for the things that are important to you.’ So if you say that you didn't have enough time to get your schoolwork done — or study for a test because you watched a movie — then you are saying your entertainment is more important than your schoolwork. Ultimately, you’re saying that your future isn't as important.”

Olympic gymnastics silver medal gymnast Samantha Peszek: “Some advice my dad always gave me that stuck with me is, ‘You can do absolutely anything you set your mind to.’ Empowering me at such a young age has given me the ability to accomplish my wildest dreams!”

Olympic field hockey hopeful Mohan Gandhi: “Don’t play scared, just go for it!”

Olympic figure skater Polina Edmunds: “One quote my dad always says in the morning to wake us up is: ‘Rise and shine, and give God your glory.’”

Olympic synchronized swimmer Mary Killman: “My dad always gave me a Henry Ford quote: 'Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right.' He always pushed me to be the best I could be no matter what the circumstances. I'm my biggest supporter and my biggest enemy. So he always reminded me to use my mental game to the fullest. If I could see myself achieving something, I'd be able to do it.”