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Huddle Up with Gus

Episode · 11 months ago

Melissa Stockwell

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Melissa Stockwell is an American two-time Paralympic triathlete, swimmer and former US Army officer and she joins me in the huddle this week. What an inspiring story she has and turned her tragedy into one of my favorite stories on the podcast. After graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2002, Melissa Stockwell was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army’s transportation corps. One month after being deployed to Iraq, in April 2004, she became the first female American soldier in history to lose a limb in active combat after her vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb. She was later honored with a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for her service. Four years later, she became the first Iraq War veteran to qualify for the Paralympic Games, competing in swimming at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics. She was selected to be the flag bearer for Team USA at the Beijing closing ceremonies. After Beijing, Stockwell shifted her focus to triathlon because she enjoyed the variety that it gave her.  She made her elite ITU debut in 2009, and went on to earn three consecutive world titles from 2010-2012. In 2016, she earned a spot on the inaugural U.S. paratriathlon team for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, which featured the sport as a medal event for the first time. She earned a bronze medal in the PTS2 category, sharing the podium as part of a U.S. sweep with silver medalist Hailey Danz and gold medalist Allysa Seely. Stockwell is a co-founder of the Chicago-based Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club with Keri Serota and Dan Tun. She is a USA Triathlon Level I certified coach, and serves as a mentor and friend to her fellow Dare2tri athletes as they train and compete. She also serves on the board of directors for the Wounded Warriors Project, USA Triathlon Foundation, and the USA Triathlon Women’s Committee. She is a licensed prosthetist but is currently training for triathlon full-time at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. One of her pre-race rituals is that she always has to eat gummy worms the night before a race. She is married to Brian Tolsma and has two children, Dallas and Millie.    Check her website out for more information. https://melissastockwell.com   See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Hey everyone. We appreciate you joiningus in the Huddle, I'm your host fifteen year, NFL quarterback Gasfrot,alongside my longtime friend, and Co, host Dave Hager, where we talk toguests about how sports shape their life be sure to check us out on ourwebsite Howdo up with Guscom, where you can listen to more episodes. Just likethis. Now, let's join the Huddle Tayo oinmanother eodnosotfiten year,Atfal quarterback and today our guest is very m very honored to be able to talkwith her and get her opinion of housecorts shaped her life among manymany other things, but you can listen to our podcast on the new RADIOCOM APPor wherever you listen to your favorite podcast. You can also find us on huddleup with gescom and the new. Sixteen thirty one digital news. This is thesixteen thirty one digital news studio where we're coming from. But today wehave a bronze star Honowe. We have a purple heartwinner. I don't know ifthat's an award that you know it takes a lot of self sacrifice forthat, but Melissa stockwill is joining us today. She has accomplished so muchin her life and she leads people in the right direction and if you want TAleader a Patriot, this is the person that we need to talk to so Melissa.It's an honor and thank you for joying me on Hotdlawup with Gust today. Thank you for having Neanim Honord tobe here. Thank you. So really, our show about howsportsshapes your life. I see that your hometown was even Prarie Minnesota,which I know pretty well was up there a couple times with the Minnesota, Vikingand really love Minnesota. It's a great state an and the twin cities are agreat place to be so tell me about, I think, that's where you grew up in myright, yeah I waso. I went to high school andEaten Pairi kind of grew up in Georgia before that, but but I considerdefinitely considered Minnesota my home and I'm out in Colorado now, but stilltry to get back there at least once or twice a year just tovisit friends and take it all, and I love me Toso a so were you amit with?Did you come from a military family am, I did not know, I learned at apretty young age. Just you know I was a big gymist when I was younger, so Imean I know very much talking about sports and gymnastics was my life andbefore we gymnastics meats, you know the American flag. Is there we har thenational anthem and I just kind of fell mov with the country and the red, thewhite and the blue, and so I decided pretty early on. I wantedto join the military when I got older Ju s to give that to a country that Ilearned to love so much at a young age, but no, no real military in my family. So why gymnastics o this? Was it justsomething that when you were young, you love to do Yau Kn, I mean I took ourkids to try gymnastics when they were young and I've made them. Try everysport, but so why gymnastics for you?...

You know my parents always said I waskind of jump in on everything and over everything. I think that's typicallyhow ar and then I kind of they put me inthe class and I kind of fell inlove with it. So it was my passion I mean before schoolafter school. You Know Jim to Gog in itione thousand nine hundred and ninetysix Olympic Games. I mean it was. It was definitely what I was known for wasbeing Mi, wasn't milissitic gymmass, so my wife was a gymnast as well an and ina cheer leader for the High School team, and you know because she could do allthe flips and everything, but she loves Beth, and I hear her werers about whenyou know when Shep do all the bars and on all those kind of things that howyou would rip your your calouses off all the time. Did you have thoseexperiences as well? Oh yeah, it's like a badg honor. It like you, would ripoff your palace and that it was do you keep going? Do you stop? Raptiswe wouldgo home and what they would always tell to do. IsYou put you put te bags on on those ricks? We would call Hem and they wouldheal faster, don' know if that was a myth or what, but that's what we oat doand O atters. We could be back out there. The next day was that Cama millt your green tea TT. So when you get to high school andEan Pery, what was that experience like that that that first transition for younow you? Because you said you were in other places- you moved around a littlebit. My kid did the same thing. So sometimes those transitions are hardfor people, sometimes theyre easy. What was that like for you yeah? You know swe moved from Georgiato Minnesota for me to start high school, and I mean I look. I look backat my etaper years with such fond memories. I think you know I was likean Avi gymnist on a club team and Georgia moved up into high school andstarted more high school sports, which are still you know, rigorous in theyrein their own mindset, but not quite as much as what I was doing down in Georgia like gymnastic. So I kind ofI guess I found myself a little bit more before I was milist of the gymnastand now I was Wlit's the gymnast, but I also was on the track team and on thediving team, and you know I I feel, like I kind of thrived in in highschool, to kind of figure out who I really was, and I mean I have some ofmy very best friends today I are from you know, meeting freshmen yeare inhigh school. So I love, I love high school. You know I joke that. You knowif I could go back and do it again. I would I mean I know some peof e lovehigh school, some don't, but I did I loved it. Yeah High School is a great time. Youknow, there's obviously you're a mom and and a wife,and you have responsibilities and your travel ll over to every place to tellyour story, but you know in high school there's really. No, you know I can't belate for practice. That's like my responsibility right, so you get toreally really enjoy life, and it sounds like that. You did, did you have amentor that really you know of all the teams that you've participated on? Didyou have a mentor of one of the teams...

...that that maybe still talk to today? You know I think thangs are socialmedia. You know, I do talk to a lot of you know of my teammates from highschool and I think I think so I did multipl. I didn't variety of sports inhigh school, but gymnastics was still my main passion and I did- and I think just the captains of thegymnastics team I mean, I think I think, as a Teammat, especially a freshman.You know you come onto this team. Your knew you're, trying to kind of fit inand find your way and the captains of these teams and kind of how they leadthe team and how they treat the teammates and the new athletes thatcome in just to make them feel. Like part of that family, I mean that's,that's what that's who I looked up to and that to IAS. You know I aspired tobe, and you know, as the years went on and seen Nour year, found myself as acaptain of the team and wanting to you know lead by example for the newathletes that are coming in. So you know, I think the mentors are thosethat come ahead of you and they take notice of you. They kind of bring youin as their own and that's just kind of what you want to carry on as you getolder and look to those coming behind you right. So as you get older and you'regoing to, and you know, Indo your senior year, what are you thinkn ofthat? Are Your next steps. I know you went to boulder, but how did you getthere and did you want to pursue athletics in college as well? If I had my choice, I would have donegymnastics. You know all the way through college. My Body had adifferent, a M adifferent hindset. You Know Yu you're, no stranger to an theAIATHLETE. You get injured, your body gets beat up and you know after high school it. My body was kind of telling me hatno, I'm done so. I applied to a bunch of different schools. I A lot of them.I applid do did have gymnastic teams just in case I could kind of go and geton, and my dad was like why don't we go checkout University of Colorado an boulder and we came out here for a weekend andI men, you can't really go back. You Walk on campus and it's beautiful elike in the mountains- and I remember leaving you know after thatweekend end just thinking this is this is where I want to be. I want to besharted by by by the mountains, O the hiking, the camping. You know that allthe all the outdoors that comes with it, so it was a pretty easy choice. Once wecame to visit yeah I mean we lived an Denver. Welived on the south side of Denver when I played for the Broncos and we used to go to Estos park all thetime. It's just you know you drive through boulder to get up there andit's just so. It's like you, don't want to leave it's like. Do we have to go,we have to go back to the city, don't really want to go back to the city, soI'm sure Boder. Can you explain what Boulder is to people? Because you knowunless you are there and understand it, you don't understand like the streamsand the Mountas and the how t build, and it's just so beautiful isyu I mean I would sit. I remember Iwould sit in my chemistry, class, Chemestr onre on one freshman year andlook out the mountains and the flat irons like h are I mean they're likeit's almost like you can reach out and...

...touch them, and I mean I'll tell you.It was hard to stay in class and not just want to. You know: Go explore themountains. Oor take an hour and a half hour hour and a half bus ride up to themountains to ski in the winter. So I I think for a lot of a B of students, ita challenge, because you have all this pull to want to do all these outdoorthings. So to try to you know, stay with the academics and you know do dothat when you're not in the classroom, but I mean yeah, I think unless you go to bolder,really any mountain city in Colorado, it's hard to explain until you're there,but it's such a such a beautiful thing. So I know you're a big sports fan. YouKnow Yo you ere in all kind of athetics. When you get to college and now you'renot playing. Do you still follow a lot of sports, or are you talking to yourfriends about that yeah? So when I, when I went to college,I became part of the Dimon Temowas, a diver and collet or in high school. SoI went on the diving team on my roommate, who I adjust met was joiningthe crew team to the rowing team, so joined that with her, and it was, youknow up at thre, thirty, a driving near the rest of for, like this little cultof people that are like going to this reservoir to row at five am before yourat before your idam class. So I was still, I feel like. I was still activeand still athletic dyou know kind of did a lot of rockclimbing and and kamping and backpacking and then sopphomore yearjoining on rotc program, and then that is kind of where my niche began so inthe military, ROTC and, and you say, physically fit. You have pt threemornings a week, so that kind of became my new. My new sports outlet. I guess,if that's not, that the military is really sports, but you do have to besit. You have to be very fit to be in the military. There's no doubt aboutthat. So as you're going through college you're going through youracademics, you're trying to keep active trying to figure out, you know we allhave that when we were in college I mean luckily for me I was I was draftedinto the NFL and and have to really figure it out. But so many people aretrying to figure out their next step in life. So when you're going through allthis you're in the ROTC you're doing crew, your don a diving team and allsudden you're aproaching your senior here and you're, trying to figure outwhat the next step is for. You so tell me a little bit about that senior yearand obviously we know that two thousand and one happened and- and that was difficulttime, because that the night before I was playing on a Monday night footballgame so against the LEWYORK giants. Sot Tell me about experience your senioryear and how that where led you yeah. So you know, I know that we're talkingabout sports here and I see like I took a little bit of a break, so I veryinvolve in sports growing up big part of my life, and then there was likethis chunk of military time. And now, I'm back to you know probably leting alife of sport, but so senior Yearof College Yeah September eleventh, youknow happened and it was a Tuesday. It was ROTCD, I'm wearing my uniform.We are sitting in a classroom watching...

...the news onfold on TV as a towers fell,and it was that day that our instructor, you know, looked at all e Bost an hesaid today. All of your lives are going to change you it's ot a matter of if,but when you deploy to a foreign country and be and go to, I meanbasically go to war, so I knew that the uniform that I become so proud to wearan American, so I id probably be wearing on on foreign soil as well. So my path, attheir college was kind of being inte, our being in ROTC, which isa reserve offiscer training core and it kind of sets you up to be an officer inthe military, so Maya, two thousand and two. I graduated with a with my collegedegree and I was commissioned as an officer and to into the United Statesarmy and that kind of set my path up for me for at least the next four years.But you know a lot of people go ing and make it a careeer. So once I graduated,I was part of the Transportation Cour, so I went off and did asome militarycourses offer or basic cor, basically to learn how to do my job in themilitary and then in early two thousand n late, two thousand and three I wassent to my first duty assignment Fort Hood, Texas and then early, twothousand and four I was deployed over to Iraq with theFirst Cavalry Division. So September eleventh, I mean it changeall of ourr lives. You change a world, but it truly change the trajectory ofmy own life because you know I mean a few years later. I did find myself, youknow getting off a plane in Kuwaits and stepping foot up intoIraq, so it truly changed. I mean it definitely changed my life. So when you became an officer when youget out of school, you go right to the military you're, an officer. So do youstill have to go through the same basic training is? Is it all differentbecause my wife's little brother was an army ranger, so we followed his paththe whole way through. So what was that like for you going through the militarycoming from college, which is different than a lot of people yeah? So so so inthe military. You basically have kind of too tracked. Well, there's actuallymultiple tracks, but I'm a lot of people kind of know. There's one trackthe enlisted track, then there's a officer track and a lot of enlistedsoldiers. They join the military. You know, eighteen years old, just out ofhigh school and trying to kind of find their way in the world, and they are the ranks of you know private,all the way up to a sergeant sergeant, major and kind of going through thoseenlisted ranks and then a lot of officers. You come out of college as anofficer if you have a college degree- and you start with Second Lieutenant-then you go up to you know First Lieutenant Captain Major and then allthat to general, and there are different paths along the way. We'reenlisted can then become officers or war and officers. So so there aredifferent paths that you can take, but the training is as different as well.So I had a type of basic training, but...

...it wasn't the typical basic trainingthat you know. Private INLUCID chuldier would go through so training, but justa little bit different than the tracks are just definitelydifferent. So what was it like for you? You said you were in the kindof the transportation side of the military, but you still have to learnhow to shoot a gun. You have to do all those types of things. Tell me aboutthat experience for you, because my my little little brotherinlaw you know hetells me a lot of those stories, but I'd love to hear your story about that,because I think it's so interesting that that that's a big part of whatgoes through and you have to protect yourself out there and you'reprotecting our country. But you have to learn all these skills. So tell me alittle bit about that. Some of the military. You have allthese different branches, so you have like the Army Ranger, which I think yousaid your brother Inlawis right and then you have Tlik. You had the the infitry division.There's you know military police intelligence kind of down to thelogistic side which transportation is more logistics, but when you thinkabout deploying over to Iraq or Afghanistan, I mean it didn't matter.We still had to be trained and you know I wasn't my particular job was not togo out and you know, and to into the Wilderness, and you know andfind find the enemy. I was more about trucks and transportation and bringingsupplies, but in a war such as Iraq and Afghanistan, you don't know nobody safe and unfortunately the roads are notsafe, which is what you know. I found out first hand, but we so we stillbasically yea to answer question. We all go through markmanship training. Ihad a M sxteen. I learned to assemble to disassemble. We had target practice,we had Landnob, I mean I had never saw the weapon in my life, and here I amwith the msixteen or MTO fourty nine. You know automatic weapon and trying toyou know it', it's I think when you first do it you're, like Oh wow, likethis, is really cool. You pay your face. Camo. You know you're your MES training.Now you you get these weapons and these target practices and then but then yourealize that it's all because you might have to actually use their subday likein a real time situation and then so I think it's kind of you know it's funand cool at first, but then, when you well personally, realizing that thismight be a real time situation kind of thing like it's, I mean it's scary,it's I was, I mean I I'm never thought of myself, as you know, taking myweapon out and actually shooting it in a real life situation. So it's yeah,it's it's a little different yeah. So one of the things I wanted to askyou, because I know that in sports you get knocked down, they tell you to getback up, they may it makes you tough. It does things that you know. If youdon't play, you don't get so you e you're, obviously an athleteyou've worked very hard and gymnastics and crew and diving I mean all of it,takes skill, perseverance, hard work...

...and then you're going to find yourselfin a place where man can I do this. Can I get back up cause it too hard? You KN,you just talked about ripping th the skin off your hands and do I quit or doI keep going so that day, where you had your accident were where you lost your leg? Tell us aboutthat day and the stuff that you went through early in life. Did it help youmake it through that day because it had to be a horrific day for you? Yes, so yeah Abril, thirteen, twothousand and four it was I'v been in Iraq for just three weeks, so not notvery long, and it was basically a routine convoy and through centralBaddad and the VII was in got struck where a roadside bomb which would tomake up well, could be a long story. Pretty short resulted in the loss of myleft leg above the knee and kind of through a serious of events was, youknow, had a life sating surgery and Baddad, and it wasn't until I woke up from thatsurgery, and I said I think something happened to my leg, because I stillreally didn't know the extent of the injury and that's when they said it'sgone. You don't have your leg anymore, and you know I think it sounds socheesy to say this, but like from moment one granted, I was under a lotof painmeds. You know my mind, hadn't really rapped or wrapped itself aroundwhen it happened, but it very early on I remember thinking. I was glad it wasme and another one of my soldiers. I knew that I would be able to getthrough it and you know make it through to the other side, because I had anamazing support system and you know I think, looking back at my life beforethat did sports play a part in that I mean yeah. Maybe I mean you know. Iknew that I just had a strong team and I think when you grow up in sports, youknow the concept of team. You know the concept of of Teamok and getting eachother through hard times together. So I knew I had that team. You know I'vealways been very gold driven and very optimistic, like annoyingly optimisticfor a lot of people, I think so you know, I think, that optimis N, thathelps, I mean I looked at myself and thought you know like. I can do thisI'm alive and I'm going no make it through this so yeah, I I'm not saaying. It was all youknow, UNICORNS and mrainbows. I just lost my leg, but there was a lot ofoptimism when I think it could have gone the other direction yeah, and I think that that optimm optimism led you to whatyou're doing today, obviously put you on a path to say: okay, I can do otherthings now and obviously there are a lot ofveterans who come out. Who've had situations like yours that h don't havethat that inner drive like that. I thinkthat we learned from sports growing up right and guys that go in at eighteen,that really haven't had a path or had a team, and then they're lost in themilitary gives them some structure and...

...some some guidance in their life. Butthen they haven't had that background of how to get through things, and wesee that PTSD come out n lot of soldiers and how do I deal with thisand and all those things where I'm just trying to try to correlate how sportscan help you through things a lot of times when you're younger as we getolder in life, because other people may be in a car crash and have an accdentand homeand? How do you get through that? And I think your story is sopowerful and I love that you go out and talk about it so tell us about the nextstep for you, after you're, going through your rehabor trying to mentallyget through all this. What was that process like for you? So I think real quit just to kind oftake a step back to what you mentioned. You know talking about sports and howthat can relate so on sports. We don't you don't want to go out to a game orgo t to a race and always win like you have these down. You have games where,or you know, gynastics performances that don't gover your way. You you losewhen you think you're going to win, and you have to learn how to deal with that.So I think that that does help like learning how to deal with things thatdon't now your way. So I think after you know, losing my leg. I was atWalcer read a my medical center and looking around Watcho read, I saw somany other soldiers that were so much worse off than I was. They lost twolambs three lambs. They lost heur eyesight and it really put things inperspective, and I looked at myself and I thought holy cow, like all I lost wasone leg. I mean I'm so lucky so kind of making a decision then to live my lifeor you know those who had given the ultimate sacrifice to not let losing aleg. Stop me from doing the things I wanted to do so that that mindset started prettyearly on and it was really just perspective. I mean looking around andseeing how lucky I was. Were you able, when you're a wall toread and you're, going through Rehab and you're in the hospital? What were your conversations like withthe other vets that were there with you as well, that have had similaraccidents? It's I mean it's. It sounds strange,butless you're in the situation you get it there's a lot of humor. It's almostlike you have to use humor to make the situation. Okay, if that makes sense alot of humor lot of support as well. I mean when I got there, I would you knowthere was someone who maybe Hav had a similar injury a month prior they're upa their prosenic leg and they are walking here. I am just lost my leg andthey they do everything they can do to make me to help me talk me through theprocess to tell me what's going to happen, how I'm going to get through it, but then I mean you joke. I mean wejoke about the things that we can't do, the things that we can do like ifthere's someone next to me, who's missing their arm. It's like thisconstant banter of well, you coal do that, but I can do this, I'm like whohas the worst inju in Eleg, so you kind of find the humorin it, because I think that's really. Whatgets you through a lot of times but just to support, I mean wilte read thecamaravery between the soldiers that...

...nurses a therapist. I mean that is whatgot me through and they are. I can't say enough, good things about just thegreat people that that were there on my team and just wanting me to get betterright. That is amazing. You know you talk about. Humor. I've been married,almost twenty six years from my wife and now- and you know, humor gits usthrough a lot of things. In that hat, we laugh and we cry and wesupport each other. But humor is the one thing that gets our family througha lot of different adventures. I should say, but so then you're jtig up you'recoming back now what you know you go and now you're going to be aPAROLYMPIAN tellus about that next transition, because that's a bigtransition for you that a lot of people you know don't get to make. I think youwere the first veteran ever to do that that, yes, you know. So after I lost my leg, Ilearned to walk again. I had I was independent with my prothetic leg andiu lay an my hospital bed, and just I knew that I wouldn't really be myselfagain until I got that cand do athletics, just because I had been soathletic focused as a child and growing up and about a few months after my injury.There was this presentation there's a thing on the wall and I was like comlearn about the US Paralympic Games and I was like Oh what's that, so I go onthis presentation and they're like if you traning hard enough o you dedicateyourself to a sport, you can compete on the world's biggest athlete athleticstage for somebody with the disability and I dreamt to go ing to the Olympicsas a gymnast that didn't happen, but it's kind of like I had a second chance,so I walked out of that room ahat. Somehow some way I want, I was going tobe a Paramembian, so kind of jumped in you know, head firstliterally into into the swimming pool. I love the Water Itd made me Zel holeand I decided that I was going to try and make the two thousand and eightVeijang Paralympic team on the sport of swimming, and you know I was medically retiredfrom the army purple heart broad star, but making that jump from the military into that.You know back into athletics, it's self confident to gave me the SelfworthI mean I cannot say enough enough about the role sports has played in my life,not just as a younger athlete, but after losing a led, just kind ofshowing me how much ability is in my disability, I can still be in the pool.I can still run I a bike. I can do all these things. I just have to believethat I can do it so sports change, my life, I neen veryearly on- and I mean this many years later- competing in the two thousandeight dazing pair Olympics in this fordof swimming tragitoning totriathalon competing in the two thousand and sixteen games andTriathlac going for the two thousand and twenty one games and Tokyo. I meanI probably live a life to sport. I mean it's that's kind of everything to me yeah. No, I love it and one thing Ididn't ask you- and I really want to ask you- is that I was on your twitterand I was I was folling, as my kids say. Creeping don't create dad, but I knew Iwas interviewing you so I wanted to look. It seems like you're, very closewith your parents and tell me about...

...those calls that you had to make withyour parents and how supportede they've been through your hole career, becausewe know when we're kids and I have kids that are older. Now you traveleverywhere with them you, you live their life with them as they're goingthrough. that. So tell me about your parents and in this whole process, t atthat you've just explained to us and how they deal with it as well II mean I can't imagine getting a phonecall. So my again, not a military family, and you know they ned. Theywereunsure the military, and then I film up with this, but they fell inlove with it, because I was passionate about it. But then I was Thirte to twothousand and four I mean givting, a phone call from me that their youngestdaughter is just been superely wounded in the war, and I, as a parent. Now Imean I get chilled thinking about it. I just I can't imagine going through that,but they were. I mean from that day I mean as soon as they could be by myside. They were we reassured each other. Some DASIG needed reassurance some daysthey needd o reassurance, and then you know realizing together that life was goingto go on. I was going to be okay and then you know, standing by my sidethrough this at the beginning, seem like this instraamount, Om of goal whyn to become a par Olympian, but never that they'd neverthrow my entire lines. They've, never told me, I don't know you shouldn't dothat, because that's to that goal is just too big and said they say. Well,let's do it and let's do it together and they are my biggest choeleaders bymy side so and het continue to be. I mean on the and the stand en Beijing onthe on the race course ind in real in two thousand and sixteen- and I meanyou, know, hearing my parents, you know go Malissa, I mean that drives me justknowing how much they've been through all the hours my parents spent. Youknow two and fromt the gymnastics gym and the sacrifices that they made, andI think you think about your parents and what they've done for you and youonly help that you can turn around and do that for your own kids right yeah now that make that makes itreally special. And then you know that what would a breat lesson that you knownow with you having children now you know your try, I'm sure you'redoing the same thing. So how are you now that you've done so much in yourlife you've experienced been in the Olympics?You experience now running triathons. How are you taking that and and showingyour kids that, how to support a team? How to be on ateam? Are they playing sports now as well? There yea theyre two and fivethree and five. She just turned three so my son, he plays soccer and teaball.He just broke his arm. Falln off the monkey bars last week, so little breakI' going into the winter, but I think I will be. I don't. I hope that my kids, likesports. I hope that they find a passion and that they go that direction withsports. I think my husband and I are athletic. We want our kids to you knowfind Thaat, but if they don't that's...

...okay, but I will be adamant that theydo some. I just think that sports teaches children so much about teammarkabout winning about how how to lose, and I will be adamant that my sport, mykids, do play one at least are involved in some sort of sports as they grow upjust because I believe how much it can teach children, but because there's you know, they knowthat I'm a little bit different. I only haveone leg. They know that I swim like and run a lot. You know they ask me whyTsay, because I want to become the dest in the world and I have to you know,train hard to do that, and you know this morning. They woke up and I'm onmy like doing a bikework out in the garage and they come out and they say:Go Mommy go go fasteur mommy, like they theyat least. I think they get it orthey will get it eventually so, but to them you know it's kind of normal, liketheir mom has one leg and she likes to swim. I can run a lot and I thinkeventually, Thay realize why I'm doing that they know. I have A. I have ametal from from the two thousand and sixteenth for Olympic Games and theyknow that they've seen it. I don't know if they fully comprehend what it meansyet, but I love being a mom that looks a little bit different, but showingthem first hand that you can still get out there and dream big yeah. I mean that we were same way whenour kids were little. We just said: Hey wthey're, going to try everything. Wetaught him how to swim. The first you know as soon as we can get him in apool, and then, after that we said, okay, we're going to try every sport-and you know my daughter hated te on so shebecame a goalie and you don't know those things until unless they tryeverything right. She was a Goali in Tlecross in field hockey, but good luckwith your kids on that, because I know it's not easy. So you've gone through all these things,Triathala tr being a triathlete, is super difficult, real, quick last couple. Questionsbefore you got to go, tell us about the mental stamina. It takes to be atriathlete, because it's not easy and I think that people on sports need tounderstand that yeah, so swim bike and Rud. I used to think trathletes,werwere, crazy and doese. She wants to do that, like all at the same time,alon the same day, but it's Amat addicting it as and you get out there.You Swim like you run you cross that finished ine and you're like holy cowlike I did it and I'm a triathlete and the Camaraderie on the race course, and but I mean it's not easy. I mean Yoifeel like a lot of people who say they can't do a trathlon. You can do aTriacon as long as you can Swiam you're not going to win the thing, but you canget out there and swam bike and run and who cares if you're one of the lastones across the finishe line, but like you can do it, but if you're competingat a high level and at Alek level yeah it's it's hard. I mean you swim as fast asyou can get out. You go to the bike. You bike as fast as you can. On the run,I mean you, you have to dig deep for the endurance for the stamina for thestrength to get to that finish line as fast as you can, and I mean I think, alot of us have our reasons for doing...

...the things we do and when it's, when itgets hard for me out there on that run, I think about why I'm out there and IMani Ot ther, because I can be- I have three limbs I want to prove to myself.I can do it. I want to prove to others that just because I'm losing a leg,doesnit mean I'm sitting in e room. You know with my lights off, but I canstill be an athlete. I can still get out there and get to that finish line,and you know hopefully the hard work. The daytoday pays it off and back onthat podium again in Tokyo. So yeah, it's it's a good life yeah. I'm sureyou know, because I think a lot of things were canceled through covid. I'msure this year has been a little tough for you just training. I don't know if you'vebeen able to compete, it tra. We had actually raised one of Iraced very early on in February and Australalia, and then everything elsewas canceled. There was a local race in Lovelan Colorado just on Sunday andit's normally it's not a race who wo typically do, but we just wanted torace. It was still happening and we found it, and it was just great to beback out on a race course wel. That is awesome. Well, one of themost amazing people we've ever had in the show- and I appreciate you joiningon huddle up with Guss mlisas talk aboll. So before we go here Melissa. Can youplease tell us about your charity? I think it's dare to try and how all ofour fans can reach you or how some people that maybe have a business wantyou to come out and speak. So please give us that information so that wecould share with all of our people all o our listeners yeah. I thought so so Ido so. I have a non profit out of Chicago called, dare to tryParatriahmon Cub, and we get other authletes with physical disabilitiesinto the sport of Triathelon, so providing dedactive equipment, coachingand really just showing you adults, injured, service members, just how muchability is in their disability and that they can still become trioutlate. Sothe website there is dare to the member two tri dot org and we always take there's volunteers, orsprogramming, a lot of opportunities on if you're interested and thenpersonally so you know, social media is M. Stockwell Zero Wim Thet Dou like tofollow along with you, know my journey to Topyo two thousand and twenty oneyou'll see some pretty cute kids along the way and then my website, just MelessaStocklcom, does have you know, contact Hab. That goes. I my the agent that Iwork with, and I do speak all over for various companies organizations sharingmy story and hopes that others are inspired by it and if you want to takeit one step further, I did just write. A book is called the power of choiceand it's actually out it's done on Amazon, Amazon, Barnton noble it cameon February, but it's kind of talks about my story. The obstacle isovercoming them and just how we all have the power to choose our own lives andwhat we want to do and just to make the most of it. So hopefully you'reinterested, it's you'll, read it and the inspire yeah. No thank you, and Ithink the power of choice is what a...

...good title, because when I played forthe Minnesota Vikings, we had a gentleman come in and speak to us andhis line was choices. Decisions consequences right. We all have achoice to make, and you know those decisions lead to consequences and- andif you- and even if you make it the wrong choice, you can go back and Redoit and have better consequences, but what you've done for us? Thank you forserving our country, everything that you've done. We can' appreciate you more. Pleasekeep telling your story. Please keep helping all those other veterans outthere. I know you've worked done the wounded warrior project as well, andthank you for all of your service and joining us on Hotdlup with Gus EveryoneMelissa stock. Well, we appreciate her. You can listen to the podcast on Hoddoup with guscom or or whetever. You listen to your favorite podcast join usat the NE O sand, sixhuded andthirty, one digital news studio here hut. Weappreciate Ou listening. We appreciate Melissa, talk, Abeut, congratulationson all your accomplishments and good luck in the future as well. We're goingto follow you all the way to Tokyo, so everyone have a breat day. Thank yougetting Melissa for Jonin Ainoel. Thank you for joining Dave and I in thehuddle. We hope you enjoyed our podcast if you like, to hear more podcast, justlike this go to huddle up with Guscom, where you can find our social channelssubscribe to hear more by our merchandise and join our exclusivehuddle through Patreon. Please doin US next week when we talk to more guestsabout how sports shape their life.

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