What are Team USA athletes — Olympians, Paralympians, hopefuls and more — up to when they're not competing? They're training. They're practicing. They're traveling to competitions and meets and games and tournaments. They're relaxing. They're getting engaged and married. They're taking hard-earned vacations. They're coping with the raw emotions that come from losing and winning. And they're sharing. Through the reach of social media, we're able to follow along on their often extraordinary journeys. We'll catch you up each week on what's "Red, White & Trending."
Next Stop, Rio
Fear not, Rio fans. Paralympians are retracing the steps so many Olympians took just a few weeks before on their own Roads to Rio, beginning in Houston and moving on to one of the biggest stages of their athletic lives.
A track and field contingent gathered together …
A mashup including cycling, soccer and volleyball …
After team processing, it's on to Rio for these athletes from 🚴🏻⚽️🏐🏃! pic.twitter.com/a5WMdtXnod— U.S. Paralympics (@USParalympics) September 1, 2016
And a swimming contingent gathered together …
Well, not everyone …
I'm really excited that it's my turn tomorrow! https://t.co/iCzmXbBEBM— Brad Snyder (@BradSnyderUSA) August 30, 2016
And, yes, by all means, please feel free to air guitar your prosthetics.
Of course, as with the Olympians this past month, there were fashion shows, too.
Team processing was a success! I am truly grateful for another opportunity to compete for Team USA. 🔴⚪️🔵 pic.twitter.com/VVrRY1JbZn— Jessica Long (@JessicaLong) August 29, 2016
This is not how two-time Paralympian Melissa Stockwell will get to Rio, but the paratriathlete sure is comfortable on the bike …
When she returns, provided she keeps up her end of the bargain, three-time Paralympic sitting volleyball star and the only woman to compete with a prosthetic limb in the history of NCAA Division I basketball, Katie Holloway, has a request of her hometown Seahawks.
Some, like two-sport Paralympian Mackenzie Soldan, arrived in Rio earlier this week. And the view is just as rewarding as ever.
Here comes Team USA …
To pregame for Rio all over again … this:
Boy, do things just keep getting better for the Final Five — even though they were down a member in Gabby Douglas, who sent her regrets*. The quartet of Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian traveled to New York City for not only the sights and sounds but also one of the biggest spectacles of sight and sound available: MTV’s Video Music Awards. The assault of the senses — the performances, the fashion, the speeches — had a touch of Team USA spin with handfuls of priceless photo ops.
Like Rio (and San Jose before that), Hernandez almost effortlessly stole the show …
I just hugged Beyoncé— Laurie Hernandez ➶ (@lzhernandez02) August 29, 2016
I love Kanye more than Kanye loves Kanye pic.twitter.com/4fEuzLmYdX— Laurie Hernandez ➶ (@lzhernandez02) August 29, 2016
Biles did pretty well in the celeb selfie department, too.
All in all, even MTV saw that the Final Five more than enjoyed themselves.
*Gabby summed up her unfortunately timed stay in the hospital thusly:
Track (and bobsled) star Lolo Jones may not have been along for the ride with the Final Five, but she managed to make an impact, courtesy a few well-timed tweets, nonetheless. Taking you back to Sunday night, Jones’ top tweets came when a classic tux-clad Drake presented both the night’s Vanguard Award and his heartfelt feelings to Rihanna. Jones was swept up in it all.
Stay. If drake came out and proposed... I would buy everything I could afford on their wedding registry— Lolo Jones (@lolojones) August 29, 2016
Drake better have a ring in that tuxedo— Lolo Jones (@lolojones) August 29, 2016
Rih already in a wedding type dress. He's in a tux. I feel like they are dressed for a wedding. I want this too much. I'm lonely— Lolo Jones (@lolojones) August 29, 2016
Back To Beantown
Olympians are returning all across the country, and in Red Sox-mad Boston, the Fenway faithful were treated to an Olympic-themed pregame this past week. Boston-born Gevvie “Trust me, I’m a doctor” Stone was particularly pleased with her effort.
But Stone was not alone in the group, which also included Abbey D'Agostino, Tessa Gobbo, Eleanor Logan, Michael Hixon and Kayla Harrison.
Some more champs in the house bringing us luck for tonight🌟 pic.twitter.com/nAU5V6DcNt— Wally (@Wally97) August 29, 2016
… Though Harrison almost didn’t make it.
Of course, she still knocked her entrance out of the park …
Stars And Strikes (And Balls)
On the other hand, Danell Leyva, who came back from Rio with a pair of silver medals, didn’t quite deal a strike in Miami. And credit Leyva for not trying to sugarcoat things …
Eight-time Olympic medalist swimmer Allison Schmitt also had a shot to paint a corner.
While traffic kept Maryland native and Rio’s 1,500-meter gold medalist Matthew Centrowitz from throwing out the first pitch of an Orioles game this past week, he made the most of his visit (and of movie quote selection).
Two-time gold medalist basketball player Tina Charles was able to meet the Mets (greet the Mets).
Another gold-medal team traveled en masse to Anaheim for an Angeles game.
We Have NFL Cameos, Too
If an Olympic medal always turns heads, how about four of them? And how about one of them being a historic gold for Houston-born 20-year-old Olympic swimming champion Simone Manuel? One of the fastest woman in the world, by way of her gold in the 100-meter freestyle and silver in the 50 free in Rio, flashes an absolutely priceless smile in :16 …
Olympic champion wrestler Helen Maroulis, who made her own bit of history in Rio when she became the first American women’s wrestler to win gold, was also the toast of an NFL game, to the delight of 60,000 Ravens fans in Baltimore.
The Ravens even let Maroulis speak to the team.
Chicago also hosted an Olympic crew.
And Hockey …
A pair of Rio water polo gold medalists, Maddie Musselman and Courtney Mathewson, were invited to enjoy painting what will become an icy surface in time for the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks to open their season in October.
In The Key Of Life
In some cases, not only were Team USA’s returning Olympians given the keys to a few prized minutes in front of their adoring hometown fans, but also … entire cities.
Who’s The Boss?
In the pool, there’s no one better than Rio’s five-time medalist Katie Ledecky. But on Thursday, she would have been competing for the title of “The Boss.”
For this, yes, feel free to awwwww for this adorable image of two-time Olympian and 2012 Olympic champion wrestler Jordan Burroughs curled up in a crib. At the end of a long month, one could understand his goal to simply get home and snuggle.
Afternoon snuggles. pic.twitter.com/4qJtj6TPcp— Jordan Burroughs (@alliseeisgold) August 31, 2016
But it’s not as if Burroughs has spent his time napping. Soon, a school gymnasium will be named in his honor.
Winslow Township High School thank you! pic.twitter.com/0XvweRhOVC— Jordan Burroughs (@alliseeisgold) August 31, 2016
Next Steps: Dance Steps
Back to Hernandez for a moment. By now, you’ve probably heard the effervescent, breakout gymnastics star of Rio will compete in the next season of "Dancing with the Stars," which has become a very welcoming television home for a number of Olympic gymnasts. Well, her partner is certainly looking forward to her joining the cast.
They’ll be going by the hashtag of #TEAMVALAUR:
There’s also a handshake:
Ain’t So Bad
When you want to lock horns with the Badlands, it can’t hurt to bring along Olympic bobsled medalist Steve Langton. Not only is he an avid outdoorsman willing to share his travels, but he’s pretty good with a pun, too.
Speaking of locking horns …
These are really, seriously fast friends. Between the slopes and in the pool, Mikaela Shiffrin and Missy Franklin are two of the speediest in the world. Seems their friendship moved quickly, too.
With a berth in CONCACAF’s final round of 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying on the line, Team USA’s men, hopscotching their way to the island, would not have an easy commute to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Fans of summer don’t have to like it, but the days are dwindling. For some Team USA athletes, though, it’s not soon enough. They’re off to faraway destinations in search of a place to ski and ride.