By Leah Jenk | Nov. 21, 2018, 3:33 p.m. (ET)

 

From almost 4,000 applicants, 90 athletes were chosen to come to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with aspirations of becoming the Next Olympic Hopeful.

Of the 90 athletes from across the country, more than half were student-athletes. Their collegiate sports, which range from football to equestrian, not only taught them strength and agility skills, but also hard work and an inherent competitive spirit.

Take a look at the journeys of three former student-athletes who tested their skills in Colorado Springs. Watch them in action on “Milk Life presents, Scouting Camp: The Next Olympic Hopeful” Saturday, Nov. 24 at 9 p.m. ET on NBCSN and Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.

 

Andrew Fathman, Michigan State UniversityAndrew Fathman trains on July 28, 2018 at "Milk Life presents, Scouting Camp: The Next Olympic Hopeful" in Colorado Springs, Colo.

 

The day Andrew Fathman was born, his mom ran a 5K race. He was destined to be an athlete.

At age 5, Fathman began swimming competitively. By the time he was in high school, Fathman was a two-time all-state diver who found himself hoping in the pool for swim team practices on the weekends.

At just 16 years old, Fathman ran a marathon with his family; he finished in three hours, 52 minutes. But he wasn’t satisfied.

“It wasn’t fast,” Fathman says, “I didn’t win. But it’s the sheer act of finishing that I think set the tone of what my athletics career would be like for the rest of my life.”

Fathman opted to pursue track and field collegiately, running for Cedarville University in central Ohio. But after just one season, Fathman sought a new challenge at Michigan State University, where he joined the triathlon club. He competed at the USA Triathlon collegiate nationals during his first season. It was his triathlon coach at MSU, Kim Albin, who recommended he try out for Next Olympic Hopeful.

Fathman balances his training with about 40 percent of his time dedicated to cycling, 30 percent to running, 20 percent to swimming and 10 percent to strength and cross-training.

In between all the training, he still finds time to be a senior economics major at Michigan State, coach a local middle school diving team and run for political office in his hometown.

His goals include making the podium at the triathlon world championships, completing an Ironman, qualifying for the Boston Marathon and hopefully, someday, representing Team USA at the Olympic Games.

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Jacqueline Guezille, University of AlabamaJacqueline Guezille trains on July 29, 2018 at "Milk Life presents, Scouting Camp: The Next Olympic Hopeful" in Colorado Springs, Colo. 

 

“I thought my days of waking up at 5 a.m. in the cold and dark would be over once my collegiate athletic career ended, but it looks like some habits die hard!” Jacqueline Guezille said.

Like many athletes, Guezille couldn’t stop training after graduating. She had been a competitive athlete from a young age, and it was her love of football that drew Guezille to the University of Alabama. It wasn’t long until she received an email about open tryouts for the rowing team, where she ultimately earned a full athletic scholarship.

Guezille’s 1v4 boat was the first boat in Crimson Tide history to qualify and compete at the NCAA championship. Through rowing, she fell in love with lifting and has dedicated herself to training for her dream of making the Olympic team.

Since graduating from Alabama in 2017, Guezille has kept busy and strong with a list of athletic endeavors. She is training for her first half marathon and hopes to compete in her first modern pentathlon competition soon. She is also training to receive her second- and third-degree black belt requirements. And she trains her horse, Wally, five days a week working towards her U.S. Dressage Foundation medals.

Like many athletes, though, Guezille has faced her share of adversity. She has torn her ACL twice, but assures this made her stronger.

“I was worried I wouldn’t be able to compete with some of these amazing athletes,” Guezille said, “but all of the hours I spent rehabilitating my knee made me hungrier to succeed.”

She worked her way back and qualified for the U23 national lightweight team camp. And after competing at Next Olympic Hopeful, Guezille is ready for the next step.

 

Michael Morris, Towson UniversityMichael Morris (center) looks on during training on July 29, 2018 at "Milk Life presents, Scouting Camp: The Next Olympic Hopeful" in Colorado Springs, Colo.

 

After being recruited to Towson to play tight end and long snapper, it wasn’t long before Michael Morris’ dedication in the gym caught the attention of the rugby coaches.

Morris remembers the coaches persuading him to try out for the team, noting “Once you get a taste of rugby, you’ll never go back.”

He had the physical attributes and finesse to be very successful at rugby, and even scored in his first game. But once Morris truly learned the game, he became unstoppable.

“I missed football for sure, but it was a very smooth transition,” Morris says. “It’s almost like it was meant to be.”

After graduating, Morris played a season of professional rugby in the Glendale Raptors organization in Colorado. It was there a teammate suggested he try out for Next Olympic Hopeful.

“My first goal was to play in the NFL, then it was to play professional rugby, but now all I can think about is representing the United States,” Morris says.

Morris can picture himself playing rugby for Team USA, but Next Olympic Hopeful opened his eyes to other possibilities and has motivated him more than ever.

“The biggest thing I’ve learned through this is that you can’t just sacrifice one or two things, you have to sacrifice a lot if you really want it,” Morris says. “Competing at Next Olympic Hopeful showed me that all the sacrifices I’ve made for so many years are paying off.”