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Elana Meyers Taylor: Recruiting The Next Generation Of Bobsledders

By Elana Meyers Taylor, Two-Time Olympic Bobsled Medalist | March 27, 2015, 3:06 p.m. (ET)

With two of the members of the USA Bobsled and Skeleton Board of Directors at a post-season event in NYC

As I put away my bobsled spikes for the final time this season, I notice they’re worn down, and the spikes are getting dull. “Have to get more of them for next season,” I think to myself. It’s been a long season: 22 races under my belt, an all-time high and something usually reserved for younger drivers. Not that I’m old; 30 years is still plenty young for a bobsled pilot, but my body feels every trip I took this year and it’s time for a much-needed break.

Nic and I enjoying lattes back stateside after world championships

I didn’t take much of a break last season. A week after the Olympics I was in training camp with the U.S. rugby team and then rolled right back into bobsled training after competing in two tournaments with them. I’m not one who does good staying idle — never have been — my mind constantly runs and I need something to occupy my time. I’m never bored, I simply don’t allow it, but after a long year, I desperately feel the need to be bored, but even now, it’s a concept that I struggle with.

Time is so fleeting. I’m always on the go looking to maximize every second, but the thing I must learn is to maximize myself and take breaks when I need them. The question is: When will the break come?

And it’s a question I ask myself constantly. The training season may be over, and after the season I’ve had it doesn’t look like I’ll be going directly into rugby season this year, but that doesn’t mean there’s still not plenty to do. I will start my dry-land training (running and lifting) soon. From April until October, there is no ice anywhere in the world, which means we must use the time to prepare ourselves physically for the upcoming season — get as strong and fast as possible — so when October hits, we are ready again to push the 400-pound sled as fast as we can.

Because bobsled is a very expensive sport, we must also spend the offseason finding ways to make money. For me, I work and do speaking engagements and appearances, and try to find the most creative ways to make money that allow me to maximize my training. In past years, I’ve been grateful to companies like General Electric, who through the United States Olympic Committee’s Athlete Career and Education Program hires athletes and works around our training schedules but also allow us to work remotely.

This summer, however, I need to use more of my educational training to really start to narrow in what I will do after bobsled, so I need to work in my field. I’ll graduate from DeVry’s Keller Graduate School of Management in May with an MBA in finance. My end goal is to work for the USOC and one day become the CEO of the USOC, so in order to do that I’ve got to get experience and now — something that’s not easy to do when you are a competing athlete.

This summer, I’ve secured an internship that will get me not only experience working in finance but also in sports. I’ll be headed to Switzerland to intern with the International Olympic Committee in the finance department. I’m excited and nervous about this opportunity, as it will be the first test of what my education has taught me, and I’m also nervous because it’s with the largest sports organization in the world and I don’t want to disappoint. At the end of the day, it’ll be an adventure, and one too big to pass up.

Introducing my newest recruit, my nephew Mason, to winter sport on TV — he loves it!

Although we’re not sliding, there’s also much to be done on the bobsled side. I’ll need to assess my equipment and make sure I have everything I need going into next season and examine what I’ll need to purchase over the summer. As a member of the board of directors and a representative to the athletes, there is always plenty to do to try and advance the sport forward. However, the majority of my summer will be occupied by one thing: recruiting.

We now have more bobsled pilots in the federation than I’ve seen during my entire career. It’s awesome to see our program grow so much, but with more drivers means we need more brakemen, and not just any brakemen — fast brakemen. I started recruiting for the bobsled and skeleton teams in 2010. I had just become a driver and I needed an internship for my first master’s degree and I also needed a brakeman, as I wouldn’t be guaranteed one as I was now so low ranked (as a new driver, I would be ranked behind all the veterans), so I asked the federation if I go do an internship to recruit new athletes. They allowed me and I started recruiting for bobsled and skeleton and had some success. Ever since then, I have played an active role in recruiting. This past year, however, after Sochi, I was so busy I didn’t have much of an opportunity to recruit. The federation was able to bring in enough brakemen, but over the years I’ve become a recruiting specialist and have brought in quite a few quality athletes, so I’m back to help bring in more athletes for next season. We definitely need more.

How do you recruit athletes? I tell them my story. I share with them what bobsled gave me — a second chance. When I wasn’t going to make the Olympics in softball, I needed a new sport. I knew I had the potential to do something great in sport, I just hadn’t found the right sport yet. Bobsled gave me the opportunity to live my dreams. Bobsled gave me the chance to travel the world and represent my country at the highest level. And that’s the greatest opportunity anyone can ask for — a second chance to live your dreams.

So all summer long I’ll send out emails to coaches and athletes, talk to everyone I can and just try to find the next Olympic bobsledders and skeleton athletes. You never know where you can find the next great athlete, but if your interested, there’s an opportunity. Take a risk, take a chance — and you’ll have an adventure you’ll never forget.

Happy training!

Click here for more information on becoming a bobsled or skeleton athlete.

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Elana Meyers Taylor