WHY I AM CROWD FUNDING
The 2018 Olympics are quickly approaching and I would love to be able to compete again. With this most likely being my last opportunity to compete in the Olympics, I really want to make the most of doing what I love.
While I am home in New York, I will have a job to cover training expenses. However, I will have to move to Milwaukee, Wisconsin temporarily from August until March so that I have access to sufficient ice time on the long track oval throughout the season. The funds I am able to raise from generous people like you will help to make the move possible. Once I compete in the Fall World Cup Qualifier (pre-cursor to the Olympic Trials), I will have the chance to travel from October until February to compete. These funds are to also go towards all basic travel and training expenses that I will incur in Milwaukee.
For more information on my story and history, please feel free to read below. I have also added a video above from 2009 when I skated a world record.
Thank you for your support; this would not be possible without you! I will continue to keep you updated throughout the season.
HOW I GOT STARTED
I began skating when I was four years old with my plastic Fisher Price skates. Shortly thereafter I started playing ice hockey until I was thirteen years old. After becoming depressed and having to take medication because of bullying in school and hockey, I wanted to switch to a different ice sport. My desire to switch made me think of when Pat Maxwell, a two-time Short Track Olympic Coach, came to my class to talk about speed skating and the Olympics. That experience made me want to try speed skating. And the rest is history…
WHAT THE “OLYMPIC DREAM” IS TO ME
I never started out with the dream of going to the Olympics. At the time, speed skating was a form of therapy for me, as it helped to take my mind off of the bullying that was affecting me in school. It was a way for me to learn how to deal with my frustrations and anger in a positive way. My coach, Paul Marchese, and trainer, Mark Bouderou, helped me build self-confidence, which helped me to become a rising star in my sport. Once I realized I could make the Olympic team, it brought the realization I could also use my position to help the youth of today with a message on how bullying does not have to shape one’s life.
2011 Gold Medal, Team Pursuit, World Championships, Inzel, Germany
2010 Silver Medal, Olympic Games, Team Pursuit, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
2009 World Champion, 1000m World Championships, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
2009 Silver Medal, 1500m, World Championships, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
2009, Two Bronze Medals, 5000m and Team Pursuit, World Speedskating Championships, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
2009, World Record, 1000m, first man under 1:07 minutes, World Cup #7, Salt Lake City, UT
I first began skating as an ice hockey player. I had tried many different sports but I always returned to the ice. There is just something about the ice that I love. During my middle school years, let’s be real, I was the short, dorky kid who was quiet and shy. But one thing that I was not quiet about– being a bystander. I could not just sit by and watch someone be bullied. That put a huge target on my back and I soon became someone who was bullied. I tried to remain strong and ignore what others would say about me until that became too much. I eventually went on depression medication to help me fight the anxiety that I was feeling. The bullying did not stop. Not only did I face bullying at school, but it continued into hockey as well. My parents, God bless them, decided to home school me. That was the best decision we all made at that time in my life. I also decided to walk away from hockey since it was hurting my love for skating. However, my passion for the ice did not change. After watching the 2002 Olympics on TV, I saw speed skating. I then remembered my experience in third grade when Olympic Short Track Speed Skating Coach Pat Maxwell came into my classroom and talked about speed skating. It was then that I decided to continue my passion for the ice, but this time, on speed skates.
Skating did not start out as an Olympic dream for me. Rather, it started as a form of therapy to address my frustrations. I also started teaching Sunday school to kids at my church. Helping others helped me get my mind off of my own problems. It also helped me realize that others felt the same way I did in school. Being bullied is nothing to be ashamed of, but something I feel needs to be addressed.
I first started as a short track speed skater in Saratoga Springs, NY. I also went to Lake Placid, NY to skate long track. I enjoyed short track and eventually made a junior world team. However, I felt that there was just something about long track that suited me better. In long track, it is you, the clock, and how fast you can get from the starting line to the finish line. I moved to Milwaukee, WI to train at the Pettit National Ice Center in 2008. That began one of my best seasons. I became a world champion at the World Championships. I was the youngest speed skater to be a world champion at the age of 19. I won a gold, silver, and two bronze medals.
The following year was the 2010 Olympics. I was off to a great start until I severely injured my back. It was one of those injuries that no matter what you did, it caused an incredible amount of pain. After a couple weeks of rest and therapy, I began to slowly get back into shape and heal my back. That year was a struggle for me but fortunately, I was still able to earn an Olympic Silver Medal.
For the next two summers, I went to fulfill another passion that I have always carried within me—the opportunity to visit New York schools to present an anti-bullying campaign. I wanted to use my story to do what I could to bring awareness to what can be, unfortunately, a situation with fatal consequences. I was shocked at how many kids had (and continue to be) been affected by bullies resulting in suicide, hopelessness, becoming bullies themselves and many other unfortunate results. I can remember being asked questions like, “how do you deal with losing your friend to suicide” and “how do you deal with the people who brought on that hopelessness?” My dream and passion is that through my faith, I can help make a difference in the lives of kids around me. If there is a race to be won, it is not on the ice. Rather, it is in the lives of kids and adults alike who are losing hope and believe it cannot get better. I believe such individuals can benefit from hearing words of hope, encouragement, and understanding. Over the course of two summers I was able to speak to 50 schools in New York, Colorado, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
I resumed training last season to begin building my strength again. I was able to achieve two top 8 finishes at the US National Speed Skating Championships. My achievements this past season set me up very well for my progression onto the Olympic Team. Summer training is going very well and my progress continues to grow.
With the 2018 Olympic season upon us, I am going to compete to be on the Olympic Team one last time.