RENO, Nev. -- David Wise returned to his roots, this time as a two-time Olympic gold medalist.
Wise was at Wooster High School in his hometown of Reno on Tuesday to talk to, motivate and inspire the students where he went to school.
The fact that he is one of the world’s most decorated halfpipe skiers added to his message.
“It feels like coming home,” Wise said. “I spent so much of my life walking these halls and walking these foyers. I really do feel like Wooster is a huge part of who I am as an athlete.”
He said having the support of the administration, teachers and students all fed into his success.
“It’s really cool to be able to come back and share that with these folks,” Wise said. “The main thing that I love to do when I speak to the youth of the world is say, ‘Hey, I grew up in the same place you did. I walked these halls, just like you are.’ I just didn’t let anybody tell me, ‘You can’t do this.’”
His visit was part of Team for Tomorrow program, the United States Olympic Committee’s community outreach program through which Olympians and Paralympians give back to communities, offer their assistance and support to those in need around the world, and spread the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect.
“My goal here is to inspire these kids to shoot for the stars. Find what dream they want to chase and chase it to its end,” Wise said.
Wise is one of 14 Team for Tomorrow ambassadors for the 2017-18 campaign, which also includes Olympic silver medalist freestyle skier Devin Logan, eight-time Paralympic medalist Oksana Masters, three-time Olympic medalist bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor and three-time Paralympic sled hockey champion Josh Pauls.
Since 2008 there have been 70 Team for Tomorrow ambassadors. They work to provide support in the form of donations, volunteerism, disaster recovery support, advocacy and other contributions.
Wise graduated from Wooster 10 years ago. He told the students assembled in the gym that he graduated with a 3.7 grade point average, despite missing 55 days of school due to training and competing.
He also spoke separately with the ski and mountain bike racing teams and showed them various exercises designed to encourage overall fitness.
“Find the things that you’re weak at. Find the soft spots. Find all the things that are really hard for you, and train those, and then when you have those compromised situations, where maybe you would get injured, if you’ve trained that, the very last bit of how strong you can be, you’re going to be way better off as an athlete,” Wise said.
The 27-year-old father of two stressed the importance of being well-rounded as an athlete and a person. He wanted to be a professional baseball player, but when he got to Wooster as a freshman, he realized he was too small and not nearly as good as he had previously thought.
He also played football as a freshman. But, due to his schedule, he had to work out with the varsity players. Although he was much smaller, they eventually accepted him, due to his perseverance.
Wise stands 6-foot-1 now, and almost 200 pounds.
He told the students to not be afraid to try new things, to push their boundaries and to strengthen their weaknesses.
At the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, Wise had been the favorite to win going in, but he lost his ski on his first run and fell on his second. He scored 97.20 points in his final run to shoot into first place. Wise’s run included four double corks in four directions.
And he already has his sights set on the 2022 Games in Beijing – and potentially throwing even more impressive tricks.
He had the students at Wooster try spinning in both directions and attempt several core-building exercises.
David Wise speaks to students at Wooster High School on May 22, 2018 in Reno, Nev.
Jack Aucoin, a freshman, was thrilled to learn from and speak with Wise.
“It was very cool meeting him,” Aucoin said. “Something very extraordinary to have an actual U.S. Olympic gold medalist come by, to this school. He came from this place to show us we can do anything we want.”
Aucoin was inspired by Wise’s message.
“I can do anything I put my mind to. He was able to build up his strength and he won a gold medal,” Aucoin said.
Wooster is the recipient school for Wise’s Team for Tomorrow gift, which is 10 swivel boards the school needed.
Wise was happy to be able to help.
“It’s an awesome opportunity for me to combine two worlds,” Wise said. “The Olympic team helped me pay for some gear for the teams, but also it’s good to be back home.”
Wise said his gold medal belongs to all of Reno.
“It belongs to us as a community. I’m just the figurehead who got to stand on the podium at the end of the day,” he said. “It’s been really cool sharing that whole experience with everybody.”