Monday, September 12, 2016

What Success Means to Me.

When I graduated from high school I wanted nothing more in life than to be on the US Ski Team and race for the USA at the Winter Olympics. A lot of close friends gave me great advice and encouraged me to go to college. They told me that cross country skiers peak later in life and that I could take advantage of the awesome support that racing in the NCAA as a student athlete could provide both academically and educationally. I loved racing for Northern Michigan University and my coaches Sten and Jenny in Cross Country Skiing and Cross Country Running. I had amazing teammates from all over the country who chose NMU for the same reasons I did and I also had great classmates and roommates who didn't participate in sports but also chose Northern Michigan University. Balancing school and sports wasn't always easy for me but I would never want to have done it any other way. I met so many incredible people, learned so much about myself and was inspired by all of my experiences, both good and sometimes tough, during my time as an NMU Wildcat.

Coach Sten taking a break from his bench press to take a selfie.
Coach Jennie (Now the head CC Running and Track and Field Coach) out on the trails after leading the team in a workout.
Coach Shane fits right in and pushes the team hard.
Northern Michigan University's Athletic Director Forrest Karr and my signed World Championship poster in the Athletic Department.
I used the lessons I learned from being a student-athlete at NMU to help guide me as a professional athlete. It worked! I reached one of my goals by representing the USA at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, BC.  I have qualified for 4 World Championship Teams (including one in Biathlon), won 7 National titles, 4 American Birkebeiners and a World Championship Medal.   Without a doubt these successes would not have been possible without my experience as an NCAA athlete. I do not believe I would have succeeded being a full-time student or a full-time skier independently. Thanks to NMU and NCAA skiing I could do both and be successful!

Coming back to Northern has given me the opportunity to connect with the student-athletes and share my own story. I've learned from many mistakes and good decisions during my career and I see myself in this next group of skiers.  It is my hope that I can offer these athletes words of support, advice or guidance in their pursuit of excellence.  I also hope that they can adopt the long term mindset for success as they see me still enjoying the daily pursuit of ski racing.

Sharing my story as a Northern Michigan University Student-Athlete.
Talking about the Run Club Brian and I started through our In-the-Arena project to help underprivileged and at-risk youth in North Minneapolis.
Sharing my success as an athlete at the highest level since graduating from NMU.
Wildcat Willie was proud too... plus you have to always have a bit of fun

The Boys Getting Stronger Together

The Girls Getting Faster Together

It's been a a great experience so far in Marquette and I love getting to know each of the athletes on the current NMU Team and  CXC Team better and better. We are two Time Trials in and have one more next week before we head back to Minneapolis for a rest week and some work. So far the Time Trials have been going great and I have been feeling really strong. A new concept for me has been to do the time trials and immediately follow them with hard intensity sessions afterwards. It's some of the best mental training I have ever experienced and I have learned to push myself harder than I thought possible after an all out effort. Having the support of the team has made all of my training session these past few weeks better than I could have imagined and I love working with such a professional and driven group of athletes. 

As always the "Cafe" or "MP" now is always filled with great company and lots of fun times.

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