My Team Liberty Mutual shoot
One of the most fun shoots with USA Today and
The USOC’s Lisa Reliford and Peter Zeytoonjian

Last Saturday through Wednesday in Park City, Utah may have convinced me for a short time that I’m WAY cooler than I actually am. I cannot believe how amazing the U.S. Olympic Committee’s 2013 Team USA Media Summit was. I may have actually started to believe that I was famous. I went from sleeping in my friend’s basement on an air mattress for six weeks to having a room at the Waldorf Astoria Park City! I actually had no idea what I was missing out on, as far as sleep goes, until I had the opportunity to sleep on one of those beds! All I have to say about that is WOW.

This was probably one of the most interactive and athlete-focused/spoiled events I have ever been to. At one point I actually asked if someone could insult me a little because I needed to make sure I stayed grounded. I didn’t know what to do! People were so attentive and caring that it almost threw me off. Every time I saw someone they made sure I was fed, hydrated, happy, and knew what I needed to do next. I know I wasn’t the only athlete that greatly appreciated the wonderful nights’ sleep, the food, and the care that came from the USOC staff and the hotel. It was a very special trip, but what made it so special for me was the opportunity to share my story.

The tragedies that I’ve been through the last four years have been brutal — losing my father, shattering my knee cap (twice), performing horribly in 2010, then hip surgery… and the list goes on but it’s too depressing and boring — the point is the rise up and comeback to fight in 2014 that I hope will inspire others to chase their dreams. There were so many that helped me get through it all to rise up and fight this year; it has given me a new sense of community and support that reaches beyond borders. I am not a charity case; I earn everything I get, and I am not going to let my friends’, family’s and country’s support be taken for granted. I want to earn the support I’ve gotten and the wonderful night’s sleep at the Waldorf Astoria Park City. I unfortunately cannot guarantee a medal, but I can guarantee I’m going to work hard to ensure that losing is hard to do. My way of thanking my supporters is by doing all I can to get to Sochi and put my best foot forward, but this Media Summit took that a step further. I had the opportunity to educate and inspire on a platform that wouldn’t have existed without the USOC Media Summit.

My father was Major League Baseball player Ted Uhlaender, and he has left behind a legacy that constantly reminds me of how lucky I am to have had him as my father. His fans, friends and teammates continually find me in unexpected ways and tell me how much his hustle, determination and grit helped them in some way. I only hope to do the same for the people I encounter in my life. I want to lift up those around me as he did and inspire them to rise to whatever challenges they are facing and conquer them. It’s not even about winning; it’s about losing the fear of failure to enable you to stop holding back and put it all on the line. This is how you win or possibly even lose, but at the very least you will have earned and created another opportunity by moving forward.

This event helped to remind me of my newfound purpose and my sense of community, and gave me the opportunity to share and inspire. Not to mention I felt like a rock star while doing it. I just want to say thank you to all that helped put this event together (I’m sorry if I forgot any names):  

  • Audrey Ballinger
  • Richard Bittles
  • Jamie Blanchard
  • Beth Bourgeois
  • Katie Branham
  • Christy Cahill
  • Katie Clifford
  • Katie Closson
  • Brittany Davis
  • Andrew Fetterman
  • Lindsay Hogan
  • Erica Hutchinson
  • Emily Jensen
  • Amanda Manci
  • Christa Mann
  • Peggy Manter
  • Jon Mason
  • Sheryle Miller
  • Lisa Reliford
  • Lexie Spiranac
  • AJ Turkovich
  • Maureen Weekes
  • Peter Zeytoonjian

And of course my favorite 7:30 a.m. speaker Mark Jones and his buddy Patrick Sandusky!