Huddle Up with Gus
Huddle Up with Gus

Episode · 1 year 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, gusts fraud, alongside my longtime friend and cohost Dave Hagar, where we talked toguests about how sports shape their life. Be sure to check us out onour website, howd up with Gustscom, where you can listen to more episodesjust like this. Now let's join the huddle. Tarts, thanks for joiningme another episode of Huddle up with guests. I'm your host guests for rat,fifteen year NFL quarterback, and today our guest is very, very honorto be able to talk with her and get her opinion of of how sportsshaped her life, among many, many other things. But you can listento our podcast on the new RADIOCOM APP or wherever you listen to your favoritepodcast. You can also find us on huddle up with gustscom and the newsix thirty one digital news. This is the sixteen thirty one digital news studiowhere we're coming from. But today we have a bronze star honor ree.We have a purple heart winner. I don't know if that's an award thatyou know. It takes a lot of self sacrifice for that. But MelissaStockwell is joining us today. She has accomplished so much in her life andshe leads people in the right direction and if you want a leader, apatriot, this is the person that we need to talk to some Melissa.It's an honor and thank you for joining me on how to up with guststoday. Thank you for having me on. Honored to be here. Thank youso really our shows about how sports shaped your life. I see thatyour hometown was Eden Prairie, Minnesota, which I know pretty well. WasUp there couple times with the Minnesota Vikings and really love Minnesota. It's agreat state and the twin cities are great place to be. So tell meabout I think that's where you grew up in my right. Yeah, Iwas so. I went to high school in Eaton Prairie. Kind of grewup in Georgia before that, but but I consider, definitely consider Minnesota atmy home and I'm out in Colorado now but still try to get back thereat least once or twice a year or just to visit friends and take itall in. I Love Minnesota. So were you amitt with? Did youcome from a military family. I did not know. I learned at apretty young age. Just you know, I would I was a big gymnastwhen I was younger. So I mean I know very much talking about sportsand gymnastics was my life. And before we gymnastics meet, you know,the American flag is there, we hear the national anthem and I just kindof fell in love with the country and the red, white in the blue, and so I decided to pretty early on. I wanted to join themilitary when I got older so as to give back to a country that Ilearned to love so much at a young age. But no, no realmilitary and my family. So why gymnastics to it? Was it just somethingthat when you were young you love to do? I mean I mean Itook our kids to try gymnastics when they were young and I made them tryevery sport. But so why gymnastics for...

...you? You know, my parentsalways said I was kind of jump in on everything and over everything. Ithink that's typically how her how start, and then I kind of they putme in the class and I kind of fell in love with it. Soit was my passion. I mean before school, after school, you know, Jim to go on to the one thousand nine hundred and ninety six OlympicGames. I mean it was it was definitely. What I was known forwas being was Melissa the gymnast. So my wife was a gymnast as well, and that and in a cheerleader for the high school team. And,you know, because she could do all the flips and everything, but sheloves both and I hear her worsers about when, you know, when shedo all the bars and on, all those kind of things. That howyou would rip your your callousies off all the time. Did you have thoseexperiences as well? Oh yeah, it's like a badge on or it's likeyou would rip off your callous and then it was do you keep going,do you stop practice? We would go home and what you they would alwaystell to do, is you put you put tea bags on those rips.We would call them and they would heal fast. I'm not that was amyth or what, but that's what we would do and that first we couldbe back out there the next day. was that camera milte or green tea? Any tea, any tea. So when you get to high school andeating prairie what was that experience like? That that that first transition for you? Now you because you said you were in other places. You moved arounda little bit. My kid did the same thing. So sometimes those transitionsare hard for people, sometimes they're easy. What was that like for you?Yeah, you know, I so we moved from Georgia up to Minnesotafor me to start high school, and I mean I look, I lookback at my eating prairie years with such fond memories. I think you know, I was at like an avid gymnast on a club team, and Georgiamoved up into high school and started more high school sports, which are still, you know, rigorous and there in their own mindset, but not quiteas much as what I was doing down in Georgia with gymnastics. So Ikind of, I guess I found myself a little bit more. Before Iwas molest of the gymnast and now I was, well, it's the gymnast. But I also was on the track team and on the diving team andyou know, I feel like I kind of thrived in high school to kindof figure out who I really was. And I mean I have some ofmy very best friends today. I are from you know, meeting freshman yearin high school. So I loved I loved high school. You know,I joke that. You know, if I could go back and do itagain, I would. I mean, I know some people love high school, some don't, but I did. I loved it. Yeah, highschool was a great time. You know there was obviously you're a mom anda wife and you have responsibilities in your travel all over to every place totell your story, but you know, in high school there's really no youknow, hey, I can't be late for practice. That's like my responsibility, right. So you get the really really enjoy life, and it soundslike that you did. Did you have a mentor that really you know,of all the teams that you've participated on?...

Did you have a mentor of oneof the teams that that maybe still talk to today? You know,I think things as social media. You know, I do talk to alot of you know, of my teammates from high school and I think Imake so. I did the multiple I didn't a variety of sports and highschool, but gymnastics was still my main passion that I did and I thinkjust the captains of the gymnastics team, I mean I think. I thinkas a teammate, especially a freshman. You know, you come onto thisteam, you're new, you're trying to kind of sit in and find yourway, and the captains of these teams and kind of how they lead theteam and how they treat the teammates and the new athletes that come in,just to make them feel like part of that family. I mean, that'sthat's what that's who I looked up to and that's who I asked, youknow, I aspire to be and you know, as the years went onand senior year, found myself as a captain of the team and wanting to, you know, lead by example for the new athletes that are coming in. So, you know, I think the mentors are those that come aheadof you and they take notice of you, they kind of bring you in astheir own and that's just kind of what you want to carry on asyou get older and look to those coming behind you. Right. So,as you get older and you're going to and you know, and do yoursenior year, what do you think of that? Are Your Next Steps?I know you went to boulder, but how did you get there and didyou want to pursue athletics in college as well. If I have my choice, I would have done gymnastics. You know, all the way through collegemy body had a different am different mindset. You know, your you're no strangerto end the as athletes. You get injured, your body gets beatup and, you know, after high school it my body was kind oftelling mean no, I'm done. So I applied to a bunch of differentschools. I A lot of them I applied to did have gymnastics, seems, just in case I could kind of go and get on. And mydad was like, why don't we go check out university Colorado and Boulder?And we came out here for a weekend and and you can't really go back. You Walk on campus and it's beautiful and in the mountains and I rememberleaving, you know, after that weekend then just thinking this is this iswhere I want to be. I want to be started by by the mountains, that the hiking, camping, you know, that all that, allthe outdoors that comes with it. So it was a pretty easy choice oncewe came to visit. Yeah, I mean we lived in Denver. Welived on the south side of Denver when I played for the broncos. Andwe used to go to estes park all the time. It's just, youknow, and you drive through boulder to get up there and it's just soit's like you don't want to leave. It's like, do we have togo? Do we have to go back to the city? Don't really wantto go back to the city. So I'm sure bolder, can you explainwhat boulder is to people, because, you know, unless you are thereand understand it, you don't understand like the streams and the mountains and thehow it's built and it's just so beautiful. It's Beau I mean I would sit, I remember I would sit in my chemistry class, chemistry one hundredand one freshman year, and look out the mountains and the flat irons likethe are I mean they're like it's almost...

...like you can reach out and touchthem, and I mean it. I'll tell you it was hard to stayin class and not just want to, you know, go explore the mountainsor take an hour and a half hour, hour and a half bus ride upto the mountains to ski in the winner. So it's I think fora lot of students it's a challenge because you have all this poll to wantto do all these outdoor things so to try to, you know, staywith the academics and you know, do that when you're not in the classroom. But I mean, yeah, I think unless you go to boulder,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 sportsfan. You know your you were in all kind of fletics. Whenyou get to college and now you're not playing, do you still follow alot of sports or are you talking to your friends about that? Yeah,so when I when I went to college, I became part of the diaving teamas a diver and call it or in high school. So I wantto diving team. My roommate, who I just met, was joining thecrew team, to the rowing team, so joined that with her and itwas, you know, up at three thirty am driving to the reservoir,like this little cult of people that are like go into this reservoir to rowat five am before you're eight, before you're at am class. So Iwas still I feel like I was still active and still athletic. You know, kind of did a lot of rock climbing and camping and backpacking and thensophomore year joining the ROTC program and then that is kind of where my nichebegan. So in the military ROTC, I mean you stay physically fit,you have pt three mornings a week. So that kind of decame my newmy new sports outlet. I guess if that's not that the military is reallysports. But you do have to be fit. You have to be veryfit to be in the military. There's no doubt about that. So asyou're going through college, you're going through your academics, you're trying to keepactive, trying to figure out, you know, we all have that whenwe were in college. I mean, luckily for me I was, Iwas drafted into the NFL and and have to really figure it out, butit's so many people are trying to figure out their next step in life.So when you're going through all this, you're in the ROTC, you're doingcrew, you're done a diving team and I'll sudden you're approaching your senior yearand you're trying to figure out what the next step is for you. Sotell me a little bit about that senior year. And obviously we know thetwo thousand and one happened and and that was a difficult time because that thenight before I was playing on a Monday night football game, so against theNew York giants. So tell me about experience your senior year and how thewhere it led you. Yeah, so, you know, I know that we'retalking about sports here and I see like I took a little bit ofa break. So I very involved in sports growing up, big part ofmy life, and then there was like this chunk of military time and nowI'm back to, you know, probably living a life of sport. Butso senior year of college. Yeah, September eleven, you know, happenedand it was a Tuesday. It was OROTC Day. I'm wearing my uniform. We are sitting in a classroom watching...

...the news on fold on TV asa towers fell, and it was that day that our instructor, you know, looked at all about and he said today all our lives are going tochange. You it's on a matter of if, but when you deployed toa foreign country and be and go to I mean basically go to war.So I knew that the uniform that I'd become so proud to wear an Americansoil, I'd probably be wearing on foreign soil as well. So my pathafter college was kind of being in the art being in ROTC, which isa reserve officer training corn and it kind of sets you up to be anofficer in the military. So Maya two thousand and two, I graduated witha do with my college degree, and I was commissioned as an officer andinto the United States army, and that kind of set my path up forme for at least the next four years. But you know a lot of peoplego on and make it a career. So once I graduated I was partof the the transportation core. So I went off and did us somemilitary courses offers are basic court, basically to learn how to do my jobin the military. And then in early two thousand and late two thousand andthree, I was sent to my first duty assignment forthood Texas, and thenin early two thousand and four I was deployed over to Iraq with the FirstCavalry Division. So September eleven, I mean it changed all of our lives. I mean to change the world, but it truly change the trajectory ofmy own life because you know. I mean a few years later I didfind myself, you know, getting off a plane in Kawait and stepping footup into Iraq. So it truly changed. I mean it definitely changed my life. So when you became an officer, when you get 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 different?Because 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 themilitary coming from college, which is different than a lot of people? Yeah, so, so in the military you basically have kind of two tracks.Well, there's actually multiple tracks, but I'm a lot of people kind ofknow there's one track, the enlisted track. Of them there's an officer track,and a lot of enlisted soldiers could they join the military, you know, eighteen years old, just out of high school and trying to kind offind their way in the world and they they are the ranks of, youknow, private all the way up to sergeant, sergeant major, and kindof going through those enlisted ranks and then, a lot of officers, you comeout of college as an officer. If you have a college degree andyou start with second lieutenant, then you go up to, you know,first lieutenant, Captain, Major and then all the way up to general.And there are different paths along the way. We're enlisted can then become officers orwarrant officers. So there are different paths that that you can take.But the training is as different as well.

So I had a type of basictraining, but it wasn't the typical basic training that you know, aprivate enlicted soldier would go through. So training, but just a little bitdifferent than that. The tracks are just definitely different. So what was itlike for you? You said you were in the kind of the transportation sideof the military, but you still have to learn how to shoot a gun, you have to do all those types of things. Tell me about thatexperience for you, because my my little little brother in law, you know, he tells me a lot of those stories, but I'd love to hearyour story about that because I think it's so interesting that that that's a bigpart of what goes through and you have to protect yourself out there and youprotecting our country, but you have to learn all these skills so tell mea little bit about that. So the military, you have all these differentbranches. So you have like the Army Ranger, which I think you said, your brother in law is right, and then you have, like youhad the the Infantry Division. There's you know, military, police, intelligence, kind of down to the logistics side, which transportation is more logistics. Butwhen you think about deploying over to Iraq or Afghanistan, I mean itdidn't matter. We still had to be trained and you know, I wasn't. My particular job was not to go out and you know and to tointo the Wilderness and, you know, and find find the enemy. Iwas more about trucks and transportation and bringing supplies. But in a war suchas Iraq and Afghanistan, you don't know, nobody safe and unfortunately the roads arenot safe, which is what you know. I found out firsthand.But so we still basically yet to answer your question. We all go throughmarksmanship training. I had a M sixteen. I learned to assemble, to disassemble. We had target practice, we had land nap. I mean Ihad never show the weapon in my life and here I am with the Msixteen or MT forty nine. You know, automatic weapon and trying to you know, it's it's I think when you first do it, you're like,Oh wow, this is really cool. You pay your face with Camo.You know, you're you're in these training you you get these weapons in thesetarget practices and then, but then you realize that it's all because you mighthave to actually use this some day, like in a real time situation,and so I think it's kind of, you know, it's fun and coolat first, but then when you will personally realizing this might be a realtimesituation kind of thing, like it's I mean it's scary. It's I was, I mean I I I never thought on myself, as you know,taking my weapon out and actually shooting it in a realized situation. So it'son. Yeah, it's it's a little different. Yeah. So one ofthe things I wanted to ask you because I know that in sports you getknocked down, they tell you to get back up and it makes you tough. It does things that you know, if you don't play, you don'tget. So you were you're obviously an athlete. You've worked very hard andgymnastics and crew and diving, I mean...

...all of it takes skill, perseverance, hard work, and then you're going to find yourself in a place where, man, can I do this? Can I get back up? Isit too hard? You know, you just talked about ripping the the skinoff your hands and do I quit or do I keep going? So thatday where you had your accident or where you lost your leg, tell usabout that day and the stuff that you went through early in life. Didit help you make it through that day, because it had to be a horrificday for you. Yes, so, yeah, April thirteen, two thousandand four it was. I'd been in Iraq for just three weeks,oh, not, not very long, and it was basically a routine convoyand in through central bad dad and the vehicle was in got struck where overOroadside bomb which, but to make out what could be a long story prettyshort, resulted in the loss of my left leg above the knee and kindof threw a series of events. was, you know, had a lifesaving surgeryin bad dad and it wasn't until I woke up from that surgery andI said, I think something happened to my leg, because I still reallydidn't know the extent of the injury and that's when they said it's gone,you don't had your leg anymore. And you know, I think it soundsso cheesy to say this, but like from moment one, and granted Iwas under a lot of payments, you know, my mind hadn't really wrappedwrapped itself around what had happened, but it very early on I remember thinkingI was glad it was me and another one of my soldiers. I knewthat I would be able to get through it and, you know, makeit through to the other side because I had an amazing support system. Andyou know, I think, looking back at my life before that, didsports play a part in that? I mean, yeah, maybe. Imean you know, I knew that I just had a strong team and Ithink when you grow up in sports you know the concept of team, youknow the concept of teamwork and getting each other through hard times together. SoI knew I had that team. You know, I've always been very golddriven and very optimistic, like annoyingly optimistic for a lot of people, Ithink. So, you know, I think that optimist and that that helps. I mean I looked at myself and thought, you know, it likeI can do this. I'm alive and I'm gonna make it through this.So, yeah, I know I'm not saying it was all, you know, unicorns and rainbows. I just lost my leg, but there was alot of optimism when I think it could have gone the other direction. Yeah, and I think that that optimum optimism led you to what you're doing today. Obviously put you on a path to say, okay, I can doother things now. And obviously there are a lot of veterans who come outwho've had situations like yours, that they don't have that that inner drive likethat. I think that we learned from sports growing up, right, guysthat go in at eighteen that really haven't had a path or had a team, and then their loss and the military...

...gives them some structure and some someguidance in their life, but then they haven't had that background of how toget through things. And we see that PTSD come out and a lot ofsoldiers and how do I deal with this and and all those things where I'mjust trying to trying to correlate how sports can help you through things a lotof times when you're younger, as we get older in life, because otherpeople may be in a car crash and have an accident at home, andhow do you get through that? And I think your story is so powerfuland I love that you go out and talk about it. So tell usabout the next step for you. After you're going through your rehab, you'retrying to mentally get through all this. What was that process like for you? Um So, I think real quick just to kind of take a stepback to what you meant and you know talking about sports and how that canrelate. So in sports we don't you don't go out to a game orgo out to a race and always win, like you have these down you.You have games where or, you know, gymnastics performances that don't goover your way. You you lose when you think you're going to win andyou have to learn how to deal with that. So I think that thatdoes help, like learning how to deal with things that don't go your way. So I think after, you know, losing my leg, I was atWalter read. I'm a medical center, and right looking around Walter read,I saw so many other soldiers that were so much worse off than Iwas. They lost two limbs, three limbs, they lost our eyesight andit really put things in perspective and I looked at myself and I thought,holy cow, like all I lost was one leg. I mean, I'mso lucky. So kind of making a decision then to live my life or, you know, those who had given the ultimate sacrifice, to not letlosing a leg stop me from doing the things I wanted to do. Sothat that mindset started pretty early on and it was really just perspective, Imean looking around and seeing how lucky I was. Were you able, whenyou're at Walter read and you're going through Rehab and you're in the hospital,what were your conversations like with the other fets that were there with you aswell that have had similar accidents? It's I mean it's it sounds strange,unless you're in the situation. You get it. There's a lot of humorand it's almost like you have to use humor to make the situation okay atthat makes sense. A lot of humor, lot of support as well. Imean, when I got there, I would you know there were someonewho maybe had had a similar injury a month prior. They are up withtheir process like leg and they are walking here. I am just lost myleg and they they do everything they can do to make me, to helpme, talk me through the process. I tell me what's going to happen, how I'm going to get through it. But then, I mean you joke, I mean we joke about the things that we can't do the thingsthat we can do, like if there's someone next to me who was missingtheir arm, it's like that's constant banter of will you can do that,but I can do this. I'm like, who has the worst injury, betweenlosing normal losing a leg? So you kind of find the humor init, because I think that's really what gets you through a lot of times. But just as support, I mean, Walter read, the Camaraderie between thesoldiers, the nurses, the therapist,...

I mean that is what got methrough and they are I can't say enough good things about just the greatpeople that were there on my team and just wanting me to get better right. That is amazing. You know, you talked about humor. I've beenmarried almost twenty six years from my wife and now and and you know,humor gets us through a lot of things and that we laugh and we cryand we support each other. But humors the one thing that gets our familythrough a lot of different adventures, I should say. But so then you'rehaving up, you're coming back. Now what you know? You go innow you're going to be a Paralympian. Tells about that next transition, becausethat's a big transition for you that a lot of people, you know,don't get to make. I think you were the first vetteran ever to dothat. that. Yes, you know, I saw I after I lost myleg. I learned to walk again. I had I was independent with myprosthetic leg and outly on my hospital bed and just I knew that Iwouldn't really be myself again until I got back in do athletics, just becauseI had been so athletic focus as a child and growing up. And abouta few months after my injury there was this presentation. There's a thing onthe wall and it was like come learn about the US Paralympic Games and Iwas like, Oh, what's that? So I go to this presentation andthey're like, if you train hard enough, if you dedicate yourself to a sport, you can compete on the world's biggest athlete athletic stage for somebody witha disability and I dream to go into the Olympics is a gymnast. Thatdidn't happen, but it's kind of like I had a second chance. SoI walked out of that room. Somehow, some way I went I was goingto be a Paralympian. So kind of jumped in, you know,head first, literally into into the swimming pool. I love the water andmade me feel a whole and I decided that I was in to try andmake the two thousand and eight Beijing Paralympic team in the sport of swimming.And you know, I was medically retired from the army, purple heart broadstar, but making that jump from the military into that, you know,back into athletics, it's a self confidence that gave me the self worth.I mean, I cannot say enough enough about the role sports has played inmy life, not just as a younger athlete, but after losing a leg, just kind of showing me how much ability is in my disability. Ican still be in the pool, I can still run, I could Buke, I can do all these things. I just have to believe that Ican do it. So sports change my life. I need very early on, and I mean this many years later, competing in the two thousand and eightDaijing Paralympics in the sport of swimming, transitioning to triathlon, competing in thetwo thousand and sixteen games, and triathlon going for the two thousand andtwenty one games and Tokyo. I mean I probably live a life of sport. I mean it's it's kind of everything to me. Yeah, no,I love it. And one thing I didn't ask you and I really wantto ask you, is that I was on your twitter. I was Iwas following. Was, as my kids say, creeping, don't creep dead, but I knew I was an interviewing you, so I wanted to look. It seems like you're very close with...

...your parents, and tell me aboutthose calls that you had to make with your parents and how supportive they've beenthrough your whope career, because we know when we're kids, and I havekids that are older now, you travel everywhere with them. You you livetheir life with them as they're going through that. To tell me about yourparents and and this whole process that that you've just explained to us and howthey deal with it as well. Like I mean I can't imagine getting aphone call. So I again not in military family, and you know,they they were unsure the military, and then I fell up with this.So they fell in love with it because I was passionate about it. Butthen it was thirty, the two thousand and four, I mean getting aphone call from me that their youngest daughter, I've just been severely wounded in thewar, and I as a parent now, I mean I get killedthinking about it. I just I can't imagine going through that. But theywere, I mean from that day, I mean as soon as they couldbe by my side, they were. We reassured each other or some daysI needed reassurance, some days they needed reassurance, and then, you know, realizing together that life was going to go on, I was going tobe okay, and then, you know, standing by my side through this.At the beginning, seemed like this instant amount of goal. Wanted tobecome a Paralympian. But never they've never throw my entire life. They've nevertold me I don't know, you shouldn't do that, because that's too thatgoal is just too big. And said they say, well, let's doit and let's do it together. And they are my biggest cheerleaders by myside. So and it continue to be. I mean on the and the standsand Beijing, on the on the racecourse, and it Rio in twothousand and sixteen. I mean, you know, hearing my parents, youknow, Go Melissa, I mean that drives me just knowing how much they'vebeen through, all the hours my parents spent, you know, to andfrom the gymnastics jam and the sacrifices that they made. And I think youthink about your parents and what they've done for you and you only helpe thatyou can turn around and do that for your own kids. Right, yeah, now, that make them makes a really special and then you know thatwhat a great lesson that you know now with you having children, now youknow your try. I'm sure you're doing the same thing. So how areyou now that you've done so much in your life, you've experienced being inthe Olympics, your experience now running triathons, how are you taking that and andshowing your kids that how to support a team, how to be ona team where they play in sports now as well? So there yet they'retwo and five, three and five, she just turned three. So myson he plays soccer and teaball. He just broke his arm falling off themonkey bars and us week so little break, hope into the winner, but Ithink I will be. I don't I hope that my kids like sports. I hope they find a passion and that they go that direction with sports. I think my husband and I are athletic. We want our kids to, you know, find that. But...

...if they don't, that's okay.But I will be adamant that they do something. I just think that sportsteaches children so much about teamwork, about winning, about how to how tolose, and I will be adamant that my sport, my kids do playone, at least are involved in some sort of sports as they grow up, just because I believe how much it can teach children. But because there'syou know, they know that I'm a little bit different. I only haveone leg. They know that I swim, bike and run a lot. Youknow, they asked me why. I say because I want to becomethe dust in the world and I have to, you know, train hardto do that. And you know, this morning they woke up and I'mon my bike doing a bike workout in the garage and they come out andthey say go mommy, go, go faster mommy, like they at leastI think they get it, or they will get it eventually. So,but to them, you know, it's kind of normal, like their momhas one leg and she likes to swim, bike and run a hot and Ithink eventually they'll realize why I'm doing that. They know I have aI have a metal from from the two thousand and Sixteen Paralympic Games and theyknow that. They've seen it. I don't know if they fully comprehend whatit means yet, but I love being a mom that looks a little bitdifferent, but showing them first hand that you can still get out there andand dream big. Yeah, I mean that we were saying away when ourkids were little. We just said, hey, we're they're going to tryeverything. We taught him how to swim the first you know, as soonas we get them in a pool, and then after that we said okay, we're going to try every sport. And you know, my daughter hatedto run, so she became a goalie, and you don't know those things untilunless they try everything. Right, she was a goalie in Lacrosse andfield hockey, but good luck with your kids on that, because I knowit's not easy. So you've gone through all these things. Try Ath alot. Try that. Being a try athlete is super difficult. Were realquick. Last couple questions before you got to go. Tell us about themental stamina it takes to be a triathlete, because it's not easy and I thinkthat people in sports need to understand that. Yeah, so swim,bike and run. I used to think trathletes we're crazy and because who wantsto do that, like all at the same time on the same day?But it's amazing, addicting it as and you get out there, you swim, bike, you run, you cross that finish line and you're like holycow, like I did it and I'm a triathlete, and the Camaraderie onthe race course and but I mean it's not easy. I mean you getI feel like a lot of people who say they can't do a triathlon.You can do a triathlon as long as you can swim. You're not goingto win the thing, but you can get out there and swam, bikeand run and who cares if you're one of the last ones across the finishline. But like you can do it, but if you're competing at a highlevel and an elite level, yeah, it's it's hard. I mean youswim as fast as you can, you get out, you go tothe 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 the strength to get to that finish line as fast as you can. And I mean I think a lot of us have our reasons for doingthe things we do and when it's when...

...it gets hard for me out thereon that run, I think about why I'm out there, and I meanI'm not there because I can be. I have three limbs. I wantto prove to myself I can do it. I want to prove to others thatjust because I'm losing a leg doesn't mean I'm sitting in a room,you know, with my lights off. But I can still be an athlete, I can still get out there and get to that finish line and,you know, hopefully the hard work, the day to day pays off andback on that podium again in Tokyo. So yeah, it's it's a goodlife. Yeah, I'm sure you know, because I think a lot of thingswere canceled through covid. I'm sure the sheer has been a little toughfor you just training. I don't know if you've been able to compete it. Sure we had actually raised one of my race very early on in Februaryand Australia and then everything else was canceled. There was a local race and Loveland, Colorado, just on Sunday and it's normally it's not a race wewould typically do, but we just wanted to race. It was still happeningand we found it and it was just great to be back out on aracecourse. Well, that is awesome. Well, one of the most amazingpeople we've ever had on the show and I appreciate you joining on hollow upwith Guests Melissa stockwhill. So before we go here, Melissa, can youplease tell us about your charity? I think it's a dare to try andhow all of our fans can reach you or how some people that maybe havea business want you to come out and speak. So please give us thatinformation so that we can share it with all of our people, all ofour listeners. Yeah, but too so I do. So I have anonprofit out of Chicago called dare to try pair of Triathlon Club and we getother athletes with physical disabilities into the sport of triathlon. So providing a deactiveequipment, coaching and really just showing you adults, injured service members, justhow much ability is in their disability and that they can still become try athlete. So the website there is dare to the number to tri dot org andwe always take there's volunteers, there's programming, a lot of opportunities on if you'reinterested. And then personally, so you know, social media is mstockwell, zero one, if you'd like to follow along with you know,my journey to Tokyo two thousand and twenty one. You'll see some pretty cutekids along the way. And then my website, just Melissa stockholdcom. Doeshave, you know, contact tab that goes. I've the agent that Iwork with and I do speak all over for various companies organizations, sharing mystory and hopes that others are are inspired by it. And if you wantto take it one step further, I did just write a book. Iscalled the power of choice and it's actually how it's done on Amazon, Amazonbarned and noble. It came out of February but it's kind of talks aboutmy story, the obstacles overcoming on and just how we all have the powerto choose our own lives and what we want to do and just to makethe most of it. So hopefully you're interested. It's you'll read it andbe inspired. Yeah, no, thank...

...you. And I think the powerof choices is what a good title because when I played for the Minnesota Vikings, we had a gentleman come in and speak to us. In his linewas choices, decisions, consequence us right, we all have a choice to makeand and you know those decisions lead to consequences and and if you andeven if you make it the wrong choice, you can go back and Redo itand have better consequences. But what you've done for us. Thank youfor serving our country everything that you've done. We can't appreciate you more. Pleasekeep telling your story, please keep helping all those other veterans out there. I know you've worked on the wounded warrior project as well, and thankyou for all of your service and joining us on hoddle up with guests everyone, Melissa Stockwell, we appreciate her. You can listen to the podcasts onhuddle up with guestcom or wherever you listen to your favorite podcast. Join USat a new thirty one digital news studio here, but we appreciate you listening. We appreciate Melissa Stockwell. Congratulations on all your accomplishments and good luck inthe future as well. We're going to follow you all the way to Tokyo. So everyone have a great day. Thank you again, Melissa, forjoining us in Hoddle. Thank you for joining David I in the huddle.We hope you enjoyed our podcast. If you'd like to hear more podcast justlike this, go to huddle up with Gustscom, where you can find oursocial channels, subscribe to hear more by our merchandise and join our exclusive huddlethrough Patreon. Please join us next week when we talk to more guests abouthow sports shape their life.

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