“It takes a village to raise a child”… and an athlete!

BY Megan Hill

I have spent the past several weeks at home in Woodstock, Georgia to recover from last season and prepare for the next season.  While being home, I have had the chance to spend valuable time with my family and friends and reflect on the importance of a different kind of team - a support team. Every athlete has one.  As the old saying goes “It takes a village to raise a child,” and the same concept goes for an athlete.  There are so many people who are “behind the scenes” that contribute to the success of every athlete.  From coaches and trainers, to family, friends, teammates, mentors, pastors, sponsors, doctors, therapists, and the list goes on.  A very large portion of my support team is in my hometown and they help me maintain a balance mentally, spiritually, physically, and even financially.  

My mind is constantly thinking and dreaming of bobsled.  As you all know, a bobsled race comes down to the hundredth of a second.  For me, this is constantly on my mind and I know that every single thing I do every single day contributes to these hundredths.  The little things add up – what I eat and put into my body, finishing every rep in the weightroom, getting enough recovery and sleep, doing enough “mind runs” and mental preparation, watching video and studying the tracks, sanding my runners to perfection, etc.  The competitive spirit that lies within (and perhaps the perfectionist mindset I developed from 18 years of gymnastics) makes it very easy to put every ounce of attention and energy into shaving off those hundredths.  I can so easily get trapped in my own mind and lose sight of the big picture.  This is where my support team comes in mentally and spiritually.  They add balance to my life and keep things in perspective. They love me no matter what, they laugh with me, they cry with me, they pray with me, and they give me guidance.   They pick me up and put me back on my feet when I am knocked down, and they bring me back down to earth when I am on cloud nine.  This balance is essential to my performance.  

My support team is there for me physically as well.  As I have been recovering from some injuries this past season, a local Physical Therapy clinic, Benchmark Physical Therapy, has come through and provided me with the treatment needed to get back to 100%.  This has been a huge help and a confidence booster as I am in off-season training trying to make the physical gains needed to become a stronger and faster athlete.  Also, when I am training at home I am away from teammates and coaches so I have had some of my friends and my brothers step up to the challenge and fill in the gaps.  They do my workouts with me and video me which pushes and motivates me during the workouts and the videos allow me to coach myself. This is just what I need until I go back to train with my teammates and coaches, and another example of how my support team helps me physically.

As far as financial support goes, my community has really come together to help me fundraise.  The financial burdens of bobsled can really take a toll on you and this kind of support goes a very long way.  The demands of our sport make it very difficult to have a full-time job so the fundraisers are a necessity. The most recent fundraiser we had was at a local restaurant, Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub, where they held a raffle for me.  My mom has also been a huge help in putting together some “silent auction” fundraisers where several local businesses contributed.  The financial support is incredibly helpful, but even more than that, seeing my community come together to help me out and seeing so many caring and generous people believe in me really pierces my heart and makes everything that much more meaningful.

I am so thankful for my strong support team as I am training and preparing for the next bobsled season.  To have a team of people who believe in me carries me through the tough days and to have them to celebrate with during the good times makes it all worth it and that much more meaningful.  I would not be able to do this sport if it wasn’t for them.  I am a product of my personal support team, and they are the ones behind everything that I am able to do and achieve.  As it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to build an athlete.  

Megan Hill heard about a combine test for bobsled from her cousin, Nick, during the summer of 2010.  Just a few months later she was at the bobsled track in Lake Placid, N.Y. competing for a spot on the national team.  Hill's athletic background includes 18 years in gymnastics, two years of pole vaulting and one year of hammer throw.  Hill boasts eight international medals on her sliding resume, seven of which were won as a pilot.  Follow @megBsmilen on Twitter to learn more about Hill's bobsledding adventures.

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