Monday, December 6, 2010

How we do it in the High Country!

So here in the high country we are in the middle of our first big snow of the year. A lot of people around are pretty sick of the snow, but personally I love it! When things like this happen, workouts get switched around a little. Here is how we do our strength training during a storm like this...

Equipment needed:
1) A good sturdy snow shovel. (I didn't own one, so thanks to Daniel for letting me borrow his.)
2) And a fair amount of snow. At my house I have about 9.5 inches (and proof for all of you doubters out there!)

There's really nothing complicated about the workout.... Just shovel away!
Here are some before photos of my driveway:
And here are some after about 45 minutes of work:

I realize that there is still a lot on the driveway. Now that I've worked a while I must admit that it is much much easier to shovel a paved driveway. Note the fact that it is STILL snowing. It's supposed to keep this up through tomorrow. Hopefully this shoveling should get me out the driveway and on my way to work. We'll see how it is getting back up the driveway tonight.... wish me luck!

On the agenda tomorrow: building a snowman! That is if I can handle braving the cold. The high is only 17!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's All About the Money....

It's the elephant in the room, right? I know almost all post-collegiate athletes struggle with it, especially in an under-funded sport like track and field. Some discussions I have had with friends lately have made me realize that there are many misconceptions that come with being a professional athlete. I am going to be a little more candid with this post, and give everyone a small view into my life.

I do not think my situation is unique in any way. I know there are hundreds of post-collegiate athletes around the country struggling to make it by, working multiple jobs, just to get the opportunity to train and compete in the sport that we love. The typical road to becoming a professional track athlete begins in high school. Next is the NCAA level. Having experience at both the Div III and Div I levels, it seems getting scholarships in college are more due to luck and circumstance in many cases, rather than pure ability. Only a handful of track athletes coming out of college will receive sponsorship money, and the majority of those that get money are only partial sponsorships. They cover equipment and travel funds. You can earn more money from winning bonuses and prize money at various competition, but for even the top track athletes their annual salaries pale in comparison to the multi-million dollar deals that the typical professional athlete in the US secures (think football, baseball, basketball, and even hockey and soccer). Out of all of the vaulters in the United States, only a handful of them have a full sponsorship. You could count them on one hand. So even in the best of situations it's hard to make a living solely as an athlete in this sport.

Now for my side of the story... As track and field athletes go, I have taken an unconventional path. I did not become serious about my vaulting until 2 years ago. So I skipped all of high school and most of college. I am a relative unknown on the national track scene. I have all intentions on changing that this season, but that isn’t helping me get to those big meets early on.

Starting where I have, a lot of things are working against me. But I am truly lucky to have my parents support. They help me cover the rent and keep the heat on. But everything else falls on me. While I was living in TN working on my masters, it was a constant struggle. I was working 3 different jobs in 2 different states, in addition to my full time studies and training. I was living in TN, but traveling to NC at least 2 times a week so that I could vault with my coach.

Now that I am in Boone, life has settled down considerably. I am lucky to work for 2 amazing companies, Banner Elk Winery and New River Gymnastics, that are both very understanding and flexible with my schedule. I am training more than I ever have and I am making it by. But as the indoor season gets closer, I am starting to have to limit my work hours. I don’t have the option of working weekends anymore as I start traveling for competitions. The combination of not being able to work, plus having to travel more is deadly. I am really banking on a good season so I can attract at least a few small sponsors.

Some days it gets to me more than others. I’ll look through Facebook and see at all the fun that my friends are having on their time off, and I get pretty down. All of my time off is spent on the track or in the gym. But when it really comes down to it, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t get to see my family and hang out much with my friends any more, but in the end it will be worth it. I truly love every aspect of my training. I can’t wait to get those competitive juices flowing again so that I can remind myself how amazing this sport is.

In the meantime, if anyone has ideas on sponsorships or ways to get donations for my training funds I’m open to all suggestions. You can comment here or shoot me an email at I’m very interested in what other athletes are going through, or what opinions others have on the topic.