Just like it would be difficult to play water polo without a ball, these married Team USA athletes all agree that they couldn’t do what they do on and off the field of play without the help and support of their significant others.
So, in honor Husband Appreciation Day on April 20, we asked 11 U.S. Olympians, Paralympians and hopefuls to share with us why they’re most appreciative of their significant others.
1) Kendall Coyne Schofield, Ice Hockey
I appreciate my husband’s unconditional love and support no matter what the situation is. His love and support for me as a wife and an athlete is incredible and admirable and I hope I can give the same love and support to him.
2) Jessica Mendoza, Softball
In my world it should be Husband Appreciation Day every day. I feel like the stereotype — and I get it — is that the wives are the ones who need all the appreciation, and in most cases, it’s probably true. But in my case it’s definitely my husband who does the brunt of it all. To me, it’s not role reversal, it’s just parenting. Sometimes moms stay home. Sometimes dads stay home. Sometimes neither stays home. It’s just whatever works. But my husband is a rock star. He’s the one with my jersey on and a kid in the Baby Bjorn in the front. He’s the most humble secure person. It’s pretty dang cool.
Danelle Umstead and guide/husband Rob Umstead celebrate at the medal ceremony for women's super combined visually impaired at the Paralympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 on March 15, 2014 in Sochi, Russia
3) Danelle Umstead, Para Alpine Skiing (guide)
My husband is always the meaning behind my smile. He is the best husband, father, friend and guide. Life is always the best with him in it. Rob, I love you beyond any words could describe. You are living proof of dreams coming true. Thank YOU for all you do and always making me laugh.
4) Alex (Carlson) Agre, Curling
My husband is the most patient and understanding person and we know we were lucky to meet at a lull in my curling career. Back when we started dating, he asked for a 4 a.m. airport ride and was surprised at how extremely willing I was to drop him off. Little did he know just how many early-morning rides he would give me to the airport or how many late nights he would be at the airport waiting to pick me up when I get back. While he knows how much I appreciate the rides to and from the airport, the thing he doesn’t know that I most appreciate is all the little ‘good luck’ and ‘good game’ messages he sends every time I play. He always seems to know exactly what I need to hear.
Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Chris Knierim react after competing in the pairs free skate of the figure skating team event at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on Feb. 11, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea.
5) Alexa Scimeca-Knierim, Figure Skating
My favorite trait of my husband [and figure skating partner], Chris, is his unwavering act of selflessness. He is completely patient with others and never allows anyone to feel less than average. He will always put himself second for the sake of other people’s happiness. Chris instills confidence within me by simply loving me at my darkest and brightest moments. It seems impossible to feel loved at every second of your being, yet Chris makes me feel loved with every moment that passes.
6) Allyson Felix, Track and Field
I appreciate that my husband is selfless. He never dims my light, but always helps me shine. I always know I have an amazing source of encouragement, support and cheerleading in my corner.
Molly Huddle trains with husband and Canadian middle distance runner Kurt Benninger.
7) Molly Huddle, Track and Field
The thing I appreciate most about my husband Kurt is that he understands the ‘no compromises’ attitude that being a professional athlete requires, because he has been there himself. He is selfless and really supportive. I consider us basically a team working toward the same goals and he has put his coaching ambitions somewhat on the back burner (for now) in order to help me tackle my running goals until my body won’t let me anymore. So, I’m very appreciative of him and all the laps he’s paced, miles he’s driven and water bottles and meals he’s prepared! I see those things as belief in my abilities and it gives me a little something extra to push for when races get hard.
8) Erin Hamlin, Luge
I appreciate my husband’s support and encouragement, both through the last few years of my career and an Olympic Games — as well as in life. He was there to keep me calm and grounded when competing was stressful. And having him in my life gave me the perspective to look forward to other crazy adventures beyond sport!
Heather Miller-Koch and husband/coach Ryan embrace after Heather qualified for the Olympic Games Rio 2016..
9) Heather Miller-Koch, Track and Field
Welcoming our second child into the world last month reminded me of how amazing my husband is. He had to become super dad by helping me recover from a cesarean section, chasing around our year and a half year old, helping me care for our newborn daughter, cook, clean and change lots of diapers! He is so selfless and that is what I appreciate and love the most about him. Everyone who knows Ryan would agree in saying he’s probably one of the most selfless people they know. It makes me feel very lucky to be married to him.
10) Kate Nye, Weightlifting
I couldn’t be the athlete I am today without my husband. Noah is there for me when the training gets tough and is always there to pick me up when I’m down. He has supported my career from the beginning and I am so thankful for that. He understands when I have to travel for weeks at a time, train for hours on end, and still let’s me talk his ear off about weightlifting. I love my husband and to have him by my side through this journey means everything.
11) Mariel Zagunis, Fencing
One of the things I am most thankful for is my husband Michael’s mindset and positivity that has helped me get through some of the toughest and darkest times in my career. He always knows what to say, he believes in me, and I am eternally grateful to have him in my life. Now, with the new chapter of our lives as parents, I absolutely love seeing him as a fun, devoted and loving father to our daughter Sunday. All while fulfilling these roles and putting his family first, I’m also so proud of him for excelling in his own career path as a firefighter, where he helps people every day and is an upstanding member of the community.
Mariel Zagunis and her husband Mike Swehla celebrate the birth of their child, Sunday Noelle Swehla.