Together Again

September 14, 2012

Wow, what a trip!

 Nick LaCava's view at the White House

Team USA in the security line to enter the White House

Reuniting with friends can be a little awkward at first. Not with this group.  After five minutes of being back with my former crew (literally crew, remember I’m a rower!) it was like we had never been apart. And the familiarity wasn’t limited to just the rowers. It was great seeing all the different teams get back together and then greet the friends they had met in London. Everyone went to the Olympics to compete, but everyone left having shared in a single experience, and the trip down to Washington D.C. showed just how much of a bond that created.

Thursday was a day of arrivals for most of the athletes and the first official event of the trip. Most of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic teams met at Union Station for food and drinks. The event lasted until 11 p.m. and then everyone broke up into small groups and either went out for a night on the town or headed back to the hotel to get some sleep before the next day’s activities.

Nick LaCava's view at the White HouseThe highlight of the trip was the visit to the White House. Friday morning all the athletes boarded buses and drove through D.C. to the President’s home. After making it past security, there was a reception on one of the lawns with the President’s Marine Band playing the Olympic theme song! We milled around for a couple of hours and then the President’s aides lined us up and took a group picture.

Finally, after all the athletes were in place, the President, First Lady, and Vice President came out on the lawn. Michelle Obama spoke first and then was followed by President Obama. Both talked about what the Olympics meant to them and thanked us for coming.

After he was done speaking, President Obama decided to push back his schedule and meet all the athletes. This was a pretty big task considering there were a couple hundred people there! As soon as he said that he would stay longer, he was quickly swarmed by everyone who wanted a chance to shake his hand and take his picture. A long line was formed and everyone got to meet the President, First Lady, and Vice President. I got a handshake from the President and Vice President.

It was a real honor to be invited by the President to the nation’s capital and it was something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

Uniting with everyone brought me right back to the Olympics. If the Closing Ceremony marked the end of what had been a long journey in my life, this trip was a great postscript. Although I don’t know if there will be another event like this for the 2012 Olympians, I can only hope that it won’t be the last we’ll see each other. Thanks to the USOC for such a great time!

One Month Without My Teammates

September 12, 2012

 Nick LaCava
 Here I am in London, second from the left, with my Olympic teammates.

It’s been over a month since I’ve seen Will, Anthony, and Robin, the three other rowers I competed with at the 2012 Olympics. One month might not seem very long, but after spending almost every day together for three years, one month has felt like a very long time.

The four of us rowed in the lightweight men’s four in London. We each had to weigh less than 160 pounds and we had to average just shy of 155 pounds. We always joked that we would have a contest to see who was the heaviest once we were done racing, and now we get to find out! I’m hoping that being 20 pounds heavier than my race weight will earn me the title, but I suspect the other guys will give me a run for my money.

My post-Olympic life has taken a little getting used to. It’s been such a drastic change since my life before. Instead of working out two or three times every single day, I’ve been working out two or three times a week. Instead of focusing all of my mental and physical energy on one singular focus, I’ve been trying to figure out what the next direction of my life is going to be. No matter what path I end up following, I know that I’ll always remember and cherish my Olympic experience. 

It’s also taken a little time to get used to being a minor celebrity! Rowing is an extremely low profile sport. Most people have very little exposure to it and only know that we usually have to wake up really early in the morning. Everyone has heard of the Olympics, however, and while they might not understand the sport of rowing, most recognize the hard work and sacrifice it took to actually make it to London. I know some of my team mates have been invited to a lot of great events (getting to go out on the field for football and baseball games) and I’m excited to hear everyone’s story about what life has been like since they’ve come back to the U.S.

The four of us are reuniting in Washington D.C., along with most of the other athletes who competed in the 2012 Olympics, at the invitation of the White House. Everyone arrives Thursday for a big get together in the city. It’s always exciting to meet different athletes and hear about everyone’s experience competing at the Games. One of the most interesting things about being among all the different competitors is how different everyone looks! There is a wide range of heights and weights. From the tiny gymnasts to the huge weightlifters, the Olympics showcases it all.

After the get together on Thursday, all the athletes are heading over to the White House for a tour and hopefully a chance to meet the President! I’ve only seen the White House from a distance and I’m excited to get up close and see it in detail. I don’t know if anyone will get to actually say something to President Obama, but hopefully I’ll think of something clever on the plane ride down to D.C.

My next update will be all the stories from the events, thanks for reading!