I’ve struggled from the get-go with the enormous idea of representing the United States on a global scale. From the outset, that was too much, too big, too fast, too scary to be my life. It took me a long, long, long time to get comfortable conceptualizing the fact that I was representing my Grandma. Russ. My friends. Rather than The Country, and allowing that sharper focus to fuel me instead of letting the pulled-back version crush me.
I’m more comfortable with the big picture now, because over time, I’ve figured out that attention is positive: People want to see something amazing. I want to do amazing things, so we’re all on the same page.
In 2018, I got new stimuli. I finally stepped away from a coaching situation that hadn’t been serving me for years, but wasn’t really a problem until 2017. Dana is patient and honest and tough and has a specific idea of how she wants me to throw, and Jamie knowing me for a decade now means the changes we made in my training had me finally prepared at the right time. Rejuvenation is not an understatement. I felt completely different, and a big part of that was being 100% sure that my team and I had the same goals and communicated about them clearly. We have shared values in how we work together. We fit.
I want to “fit” with other things I align myself with. I want to continue experiencing the positive stimulus of newness that I’ve recently remembered is powerful and helps me thrive. I want to be in the business of representing things that I truly believe in, not that I’m just in the habit of doing or wearing or buying.
I want to further define the faces I’m representing. I want to bring things that we’re all likely passionate about into the spotlight, and relate those things to my career. It doesn’t matter if this idea brings $5 or $500 to the organizations I have in mind, as long as I know on the runway in competitions around the world that my performances will contribute to something more than just my mortgage and Maddie’s kibbles.
I don’t know about you, but I tried REALLY hard at my elementary school jog- and swim-a-thons. Something about knowing specifically who had pledged to support me gave my willpower a huge boost!
In the Trond Mohn Games, I wore a 4Ocean bracelet and my Dave bracelet. I put a sticker made by Lauren McCluskey’s family on my shoes to bring her back to the javelin runway in a small way after a tragic and far-too-early death. I’ve had a pair of shoes painted to represent a lot of things that I believe in, and I can’t wait to sport them throughout the world in 2019 (and give you a tour of their meaning when I get home). There are so many things that are bigger than me and sport, and I want to keep them in my consciousness as I continue to do this thing that I love. Athletes in bigger, more popular American sports get to start their own foundations and contribute significant funds to those causes. I’ve made a better living than I ever thought possible throwing the javelin, but not enough to do something like that. So support me, sure, please, but mostly help me feel like I’m making a bigger difference than JUST representing the U.S. in javelin competitions. Help me achieve my athletic dreams, but also dreams about contributing to positive movements in the world.
I’ve written about representing others before, and a big part of what I think about at practice often remains the military since I wrote that Facebook post long ago. I want to take that a step further by inviting you along.
I’m not afraid to feel deeply. In both directions. I love the richness of emotion actually, and I think I have sport to thank for learning that in a lot of ways. I want to further enhance the experience. Tying meaningful organizations to my performances feels like a significant way to do it.
Each meet this season, you can pledge a flat donation or a per-distance rate to contribute to a cause via the campaigns I create at PledgeIt! I want you to know beforehand what you’re contributing to, and I’d be thrilled to get information from you on stuff you’re passionate about.
I’m starting with Semper Fi Fund. They support military veterans in many ways after they come home from war. My friends who have served tell me they’re the best: They do what they say, tirelessly and in creative ways to actually make a difference. They’re female-founded. Their mission to serve those who protect us makes me proud to be an American. Pledge or donate here!! I’ve linked both the Rome Diamond League on Thursday and Saturday’s JenJavelin Festival to this campaign. I’d love your help!