Preparing for the Chariots of Fire

BY Brittany Reinbolt

I love being a winter sports athlete, but I also really enjoy the warm summer weather. However, just because bobsled tracks are closed for the summer doesn’t mean that bobsled athletes are taking a break. Summer is actually prime time to prepare for winter.

In the movie, Facing the Giants, a football coach is given some valuable advice: “I heard a story about two farmers who desperately needed rain. Both of them prayed for rain, but only one of them went out and prepared his fields to receive it. Which one do you think trusted God to send the rain?... God will send the rain when He’s ready. You need to prepare your field to receive it.”

That quote sums up my entire off-season. It seems like I spend all of my time and energy laboring in my fields without any rain in sight. Like many athletes, I am working in order to financially prepare for bobsled season. For me that means spending about 50 hours per week with a resort housekeeping company. My niece refers to me as ‘the queen of maids.’ Then on top of that I spend about 30 hours per week physically preparing to be as strong and fast as possible so that I will be able to accelerate a bobsled as quickly as possible. All of this requires a tremendous amount of dedication and sacrifice, but I hold on to the hope that God will send rain when the time is right.

My bobsled preparation began way before this summer. I would never be in the position that I am today if God had not started preparing me years ago.  Thankfully I was born into a family that supports all of my crazy aspirations. Over the years my dad has turned our yard into a soccer field, pole vault practice facility, and now a modified bobsled push track; my mom has always been there to film everything (including my skateboard crash); my brother taught me what not to do in several situations (but I still love him); and my sister has been there to help instigate most of my crazy adventures (like the time we rode motorized scooters across America).

God also gave me a passion for athletics and a desire to compete for my country at a young age. I have even been interested in bobsledding since high school. In 2010 I finally had a chance to taste what it felt like to compete for my country as a member of the World Championship Women’s National Tackle Football Team. The moment that I put on a jersey with the letters U.S.A. across the front I desperately wanted more. Little did I know that I would get to continue competing for my country as a brake woman on the National Bobsled Team about a year later, or that that experience would prepare me to compete as a development bobsled pilot the following season.

We never know exactly what God is preparing us for, and that is precisely why we have to give everything a whole hearted effort. I like to think that I’m preparing to compete like a chariot of fire. That thought motivates me to keep going day after day. If you’ve seen the movie , Chariots of Fire (can you tell I love sports movies?), then you may know what I’m talking about. I dream of pushing my chariot [bobsled] with fire and navigating it down the icy track to victory.

Chariots of Fire is based on a true story about British track and field athletes during the 1924 Olympic Games. One of those athletes was Eric Liddell. He understood the determination it takes to win a race at the highest level and said, “Where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within.”  The ‘within’ is what separates the good from the great and it’s also what separates a bobsledder from the rest of the world’s population. It’s something indescribable, and it’s something that can be found inside every great bobsledder on the U.S. Team.

Not only do I dream of pushing my chariot with fire and someday adding my name to the list of great American sliders, but I also strive to compete for a greater purpose. That greater purpose is what Eric Liddell was really referring to. Liddell goes on to say, “The Kingdom of God is within you... If you commit yourself to the love of Christ, then that is how you run a straight race.” 

I did some research and found out the movie title was actually taken from an old British hymn that refers to the chariots of fire described in the Bible. This led me to do even more research and I soon found myself reading through the old testament book of 2 Kings. It turns out that the chariots of fire and horses of fire are actually part of God’s angelic army. The army appeared when Elijah escaped death and was taken up into heaven.

I want to live a life like Elijah. A life so dedicated to the Lord that someday God sends his chariots of fire and horses of fire to take me home. I’m learning that that type of lifestyle is hard and that it requires the same type of sacrifice as an elite athlete preparing for competition. I think thats why the apostle Paul wrote, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). 

Before attending a bobsled recruitment camp in March 2011, Brittany Reinbolt was a member of the 2010 women's national tackle football team and competed in track and field at Winona State University.  Reinbolt made the switch from a brakeman to a driver in the 2012-2013 season, and made her debut as a pilot during a North American Cup in Calgary, Alberta. Reinbolt's hobbies include skateboarding and video editing.  Her ideal location is, ironically, a warm beach with good surf.  Follow @breinbolt on Twitter to learn more about Reinbolt's journey as a bobsled pilot.

*Athlete blog entries are the sole opinion of each individual author and may not be representative of the USBSF or its athletes.