Under Armour

A Few Personal Thoughts on Olympic Athletes

By Jo Trizila, CEO & President, TrizCom PR

The power of video, as we all know, is amazing. A friend of mine posted the Under Armour - Rule Yourself video featuring the awesome Michael Phelps. Watch it. Be inspired. Share it.

After watching this video, it got me thinking about hard work. Nothing really good comes to anyone without hard work – well, maybe lottery winners get it easy, but I wouldn't know as I've never won. I believe that the people who personify hard work the most are Olympic Athletes.

My 6-year-old daughter, Kate, is a figure skater. She started skating at age 3. For the past three years, she has gone to the ice rink three days a week for lessons. Her home ice rink, the Dr. Pepper Stars Center in Plano, is the training facility for a Team USA figure skater and two national junior champions/Team USA 2022 hopefuls.

These three girls practice six to eight hours a day, five days a week. Watching them practice has been an eye-opening experience. I have learned firsthand that amazing athletes do not get to be amazing without the dedication of their parents and family members. Every time I see one of the girls practicing, I see one of their parents sitting in the bleachers watching them – and they’re at every competition, too. Although Kate is far from their level of skating, I realize that if it wasn't for my father/her grandfather's dedication to the sport, she would not be where she is today. For the past three years, he has been the one to take her to almost every single practice.

Secondly, I witness pain almost every time I see them – when they fall, when they twist wrong, sometimes when they just walk up the stairs. Even though they wear pads inside their tights during practice, no amount of padding can help when you fall out of a triple axel or a triple lutz. When your hip hits ice – pad or no pad – it has to hurt. Yet they get up, brush the ice shavings from their body and do it again – and again and again and again.

The sacrifices they make are difficult. Most have dropped out of regular school and are home-schooled so they can skate. There are no fun runs to McDonalds, because they have to eat healthy. There are no late nights out with friends, because they have to be at the rink at 4 a.m. to get ice time. There are no family vacations, because there are competitions to attend all over the world. The sacrifices these kids and their family have made are mind-boggling.

And let's talk about money. Kate is 6 years old and her skating – not taking into account the costumes, skates, competition fees, stretching classes, gymnastics and soon-to-be ballet classes, just lessons and her coach’s fees – averages $350-450 a month. This, of course, will only increase over time.

As the audience, all we see is the final, sometimes beautiful, sometimes gut wrenching, product… It is NOT pretty training to be an Olympic athlete. It is hard, hard, hard work. It's painful work. Just watching them, it is exhausting.

So as we watch the Olympics, take a minute to think about everything they, and their families, have gone through to make it to the games. I am so proud of our American athletes. Now, after watching one of them train for the past three years, I am filled with abundant pride, admiration, awe and appreciation. However, this is also mixed with a little sadness. They have sacrificed so much to be where they are today.

Thank you, Team USA. Thank you.