Now that the Olympics have been over for some time, I thought I might give a quick update on what it’s been like for me since returning home. Just today most of Team USA visited the White House and even shook hands with President Obama, the First Lady and Joe Biden! I’m pretty bummed I wasn’t able to venture out to Washington DC, but several athletes blogged about their experiences, including rowers Susan Francia and Nick LaCava here.
While I can’t speak to my teammates’ experiences, ever since returning home things have been non-stop. I was able to spend three weeks in Colorado, which has been the longest amount of time I’ve been home since high school. What was really great about being home was the fact that I had the chance to catch up with some old friends and even some of my high school teachers. My dad hosted a welcome home party for me the first weekend I got home, complete with framed Olympic pictures and catered food, which was really just so sweet, if not embarrassing. Again, I got to see people I hadn’t seen in years, all of whom have been following my journey and have been huge supporters of me in one way or another. I spoke at three elementary schools about my experiences and how I picked up the sport of rowing, which to be honest was the most rewarding part of it all. While I wasn’t super excited about going beforehand, it really was such a rewarding experience seeing in person how kids just light up when talking about their role models and favorite athletes. Everybody watched the Olympics and were inspired by it all. Many students made me handmade cards with their take on what rowing really is. They were too cute, especially their portrayal of Mary. Many of them made her look like a monster yelling at us not to jump out (don’t worry Mary I set them straight!). I also had the opportunity to attend a school board meeting and even spoke at my high school’s pep rally, it was very strange being back on our football field that’s for sure. The administrators could not have been more welcoming. My last night at home I was invited to the Denver Broncos game along with several other Colorado Olympians. It was SO cool being on the field while the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Broncos warmed up and kicked off. They awarded us with beautiful hand-painted footballs with the rings and our names on them. We also got to enjoy watching the game in a suite together. The highlight of that night was getting to share it with my grandfather, Red Miller, the former head coach of the Denver Broncos. He LOVED being on the field again and was a great source of information on the ins and outs of the game.
From Colorado, I took a red-eye to NYC and attended the WNBA Inspirational Women Luncheon as a representative of the Women’s 8+. That was an especially fun event because not only did I get to meet some of the other female Olympic medalists, but I also met many pro players. These women were amazing and amazingly tall! Plus they all wore heels, which I loved. I felt short for the first time, really ever. The whole event was very well done and made me feel so grateful for my teammates and what we were able to accomplish. I definitely find myself getting nostalgic already and really missing the other women in my boat. From there I flew to San Francisco, where I am now, to attend the OCTanner Executive Summit. I had the opportunity to speak about my journey to the Olympics and more about the sport of rowing. OCTanner donates all the rings that every single Olympian, coach and staff member receive each Olympic Games, so they handed me mine while on stage, it’s incredible, I haven’t taken it off since. I really enjoyed not only being in such a neat environment, but also meeting such likable, optimistic people. Many of them work in HR too, so I tried to pick their brains as much as possible about what they look for in a possible hire. I feel like I need all the job advice I can get!
So, that’s what the last few weeks have been like for me. Looking ahead, Ms. Mary Whipple is soon to be married, which I can’t wait for and then I’m back East for the foreseeable future. There is a Women’s 8+ being put together for the Head of the Charles, which I will be racing in, so I’m looking forward to some good ol’ head racing.
Lots to look forward to and be thankful for. Can’t wait to get back in a boat though!
As always, thank you for your love and support and hope to see many of you soon!