Amanda Berta participating in Season 3 of the Next Olympic Hopeful at the Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Not many athletes get the opportunity to attend “Milk Life presents, The Next Olympic Hopeful.” Amanda Berta has now done so twice in three seasons.
The Ridgefield, Connecticut, native returned to the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for another chance.
There are 47 other finalists for Season 3 of Next Olympic Hopeful, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee’s talent identification program, from across the country.
All of them are looking to earn one of the six spots available – in bobsled, cycling, rowing, rugby, skeleton and weightlifting – to be invited to a national team camp. Season 3 airs Dec. 29 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.
“It’s really exciting to be selected [for Next Olympic Hopeful], it’s my second year doing this,” Berta said. “First year, I got second place, so hopefully I can get first place this time."
Berta competed in Season 1 of Next Olympic Hopeful and finished as the runner-up for rugby. She went in thinking she didn’t have a chance, but that mentality has flipped for Season 3.
“In Season 1, I didn’t expect to get selected,” Berta said. “I was just kind of done with sports and this was a last, ‘Oh, let me see if I can get it.’ But for this season, I’ve been training, trying to get to a Team USA [spot], regardless of whether or not I win.”
Even if the finalists are not selected as one of the six winners, they can still be invited to attend future national team training camps for further assessment and potential selection.
Berta is again aiming for the rugby spot.
“I’m primarily going for rugby just because it’s a familiar sport to me,” Berta said. “I’m open to anything, if cycling or rowing [gave me a chance]. I don’t know all the [national governing bodies] that are here. I think track cycling would be kind of cool.”
While rugby is Berta’s main sport these days, she originally started out as a soccer player. She played for Penn State, having won the 2015 NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship with her fellow Nittany Lions teammates.
A year later, Berta again won a championship with the Penn State women’s rugby team after deciding on making a switch to rugby. The transition from soccer to rugby had its pros and cons.
“The transition fitness-wise was pretty easy,” Berta said. “Rugby and soccer have a pretty similar fitness level. Skills, [however], didn’t translate all that much.”
Following the switch, Berta continues to work on improving her physicality and rugby-related skills and has been doing so for the past few years.
“[I’ve improved] my size,” Berta said. “I know it doesn’t look like it, but I actually put on 20 pounds of muscle. I’m really excited to showcase that in the weight room as well as out on the field.”
Now, Berta is focused entirely on her second shot.
“It’s a great honor to be here again,” Berta said. “I think I have a little bit of an advantage over some of the people [attending Season 3] and just know what to expect from each of the competitions’ different sections.”