By Kara Tanner | Dec. 04, 2019, 2 p.m. (ET)

Sylvia Hoffman poses for a photo at Season 3 of the Next Olympic Hopeful on July 28, 2019 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

 

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Sports have always been at the center of Sylvia Hoffman’s life. The Arlington, Texas, native grew up playing basketball as well as other sports. Following high school, Hoffman went on to play basketball at Louisiana State University Shreveport. 

After her college career ended, Hoffman decided to move to Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she took up weightlifting. She even went on to represent USA Weightlifting at several international competitions, but after years of training Hoffman realized it was time to make a change. 

“I realized my projection for making an Olympic team wasn’t as high anymore,” said Hoffman. “It was hard, but I made an executive decision to make a change, and applied for the Next Olympic Hopeful program.”

After attending an in-person tryout at a 24 Hour Fitness in the spring of 2018, Hoffman was invited to attend the Season 2 of “Milk Life presents, The Next Olympic Hopeful,” at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center, where she had already been training for weightlifting.

The Next Olympic Hopeful alum was invited back this year to serve as a mentor. Watch Season 3 on Dec. 29 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.

“I started training for the camp immediately,” said Hoffman. “I called up some of my old basketball coaches and asked them what we use to run back in high school so I could get in better shape. They were able to give me a lot of pointers and told me how difficult it would be to train for the camp in only three weeks.”

Despite having only a short period of time, Hoffman was determined to give it her all and be named the Next Olympic Hopeful. 

“I went to the camp, did my best and I didn’t win,” said Hoffman. “I wasn’t even a runner-up, but the bobsled coaches liked me anyway and invited me to come to the Rookie Push Championships in Lake Placid.”

With no experience or background in bobsled, Hoffman packed her bags and headed off to upstate New York. 

To her surprise, she placed first at the Rookie Push Championships. 

“It was a big milestone for me and my career,” said Hoffman.

USA Bobsled & Skeleton then invited Hoffman to come back for the National Push Championships the following month. Hoffman won the National Push Championships as well and was invited to the national team trials. 

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She secured a spot on the women’s national team and spent the 2018-19 season on the world cup tour, where she was able to compete alongside three-time Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor, even earning bronze with her at the world cup stop in Innsbruck, Austria. 

“My first year was a lot about learning how to become a better bobsledder,” said Hoffman.

Going into her second season on the national team, Hoffman is hoping to take her learnings from the first season and be even better than she was last year.

“[Next Olympic Hopeful] was the step I needed to take to help fulfill my Olympic dreams,” said Hoffman.

It was only fitting that she—and Season 1 winner and bobsled teammate Josh Williamson—serve as a mentor this year.

“I loved being a mentor and I loved giving back,” Hoffman said. “It was nice to be able to coach the athletes and give them some insight into what they can do to help themselves be better. I think a lot of them really took what I said to heart and really applied it during the tryout.”

This season contestants competed for spots in six participating sports: bobsled, cycling, rowing, rugby, skeleton and weightlifting.

One winner selected for each sport goes on to attend national team training camps with the opportunity to advance in that sport.

With tears in her eyes, Hoffman said she owes so much of her success to the Next Olympic Hopeful program and is grateful to be a part of the USA Bobsled & Skeleton family. 

“My ultimate goal is to make an Olympic bobsled team and compete at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022,” said Hoffman. “It’s been a long journey. It would make it all worth it.”