“So what ARE you going to do next year?”
I’ve been hearing this question a lot lately. And I’ve (finally) made a decision! I am not going to college. At least not full time, anyway. I am going to focus on Nordic skiing as my full-time job, and take classes from Westminster College part time. I will remain on the CXC ski team, and I have also been named to the US Ski Team’s B team.
So how did I come to the decision to skip “the college experience”? I spent the past year deferring college and racing and training on the CXC ski team. I wanted to use the year as a test run, to see how life as a professional skier played out and if I really and truly liked it. Turns out I loved it! While there is a certain amount of stress that comes with having a job that depends on your physical abilities and results, it is also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I really like traveling all over the US (and around the world!), meeting new people and learning about different countries. I really like spending a ton of time outdoors training. And along the way, I’ve learned how to control my pre-race nerves to the point where I can enjoy racing and get excited about it.
I realize that most high school graduates go straight to college and from there go straight to their job. So it was pretty scary for me to deviate from this expected path, walk away from attractive scholarships and and a clear track for success, and choose a career that has no guarantees and small chance of financial stability. But I know that for me personally, college isn’t the right choice if I truly want to be the best athlete I can be. If I went to school full-time, I would end up taking challenging courses and I would strive for an A in all my classes, making it hard to get the sleep and recovery I need to really take advantage of my training. I wouldn’t be able to travel to races and do schoolwork at the same time without getting really stressed out – my junior and senior year in high school taught me that much. So this upcoming year, I will be taking one or two classes at a time from Westminster College, which partners with the USST to allow athletes free classes and a flexible schedule. It will definitely take longer than four years to finish my degree but I will be gaining some incredible life experiences along the way, and learning things I couldn’t find in books.
But…how can someone be on two teams at the same time? No problem! While CXC will remain my main team with Jason Cork and Gus Kaeding as my coaches, I will also attend camps with the USST athletes and will work with the USST coaches when I am traveling around Europe. Minnesota will still be my home base – I have WAY too much Midwest pride to change that!
However, although I’m a part of the US team, the B team does not receive full funding. We are required to attend certain training camps for which lodging, coaching and ground transportation are provided. The B team athletes are responsible for their own travel expenses and living expenses outside of camps. CXC provides funding for the CXC camps and selected races, which helps a lot. I also work when I am home, but it’s difficult to get hours when I’m scheduling work around training camps and race trips. So in order to cover living and travel expenses, part of my job will be developing sponsorships and support.
Where does all this leave me? At age 19, I have committed to a profession and am establishing my plans for the next 12-15 years. I have a job that I like and am passionate about, and the opportunity to work hard, go after the goals I’ve set for myself, and represent the USA in an international arena. Most of all, I’m EXCITED for it! You may have noticed the changes to my website – besides the fact that I just can’t resist shaking things up every once in a while, I also needed to make some updates that reflect the career choices I’ve made. But you can always count on continuous updates and pictures!