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 joining us in the huddle. I'm your host, fifteen year NFL quarterback, gusts fraud, alongside my longtime friend and cohost Dave Hagar, where we talked to guests about how sports shape their life. Be sure to check us out on our website, howd up with Gustscom, where you can listen to more episodes just like this. Now let's join the huddle. Tarts, thanks for joining me 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 honor to be able to talk with her and get her opinion of of how sports shaped her life, among many, many other things. But you can listen to our podcast on the new RADIOCOM APP or wherever you listen to your favorite podcast. You can also find us on huddle up with gustscom and the new six thirty one digital news. This is the sixteen thirty one digital news studio where 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 that you know. It takes a lot of self sacrifice for that. But Melissa Stockwell is joining us today. She has accomplished so much in her life and she leads people in the right direction and if you want a leader, a patriot, 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 gusts today. Thank you for having me on. Honored to be here. Thank you so really our shows about how sports shaped your life. I see that your hometown was Eden Prairie, Minnesota, which I know pretty well. Was Up there couple times with the Minnesota Vikings and really love Minnesota. It's a great state and the twin cities are great place to be. So tell me about I think that's where you grew up in my right. Yeah, I was so. I went to high school in Eaton Prairie. Kind of grew up in Georgia before that, but but I consider, definitely consider Minnesota at my home and I'm out in Colorado now but still try to get back there at least once or twice a year or just to visit friends and take it all in. I Love Minnesota. So were you amitt with? Did you come from a military family. I did not know. I learned at a pretty young age. Just you know, I would I was a big gymnast when I was younger. So I mean I know very much talking about sports and gymnastics was my life. And before we gymnastics meet, you know, the American flag is there, we hear the national anthem and I just kind of 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 the military when I got older so as to give back to a country that I learned to love so much at a young age. But no, no real military and my family. So why gymnastics to it? Was it just something that when you were young you love to do? I mean I mean I took our kids to try gymnastics when they were young and I made them try every sport. But so why gymnastics for...

...you? You know, my parents always said I was kind of jump in on everything and over everything. I think that's typically how her how start, and then I kind of they put me in the class and I kind of fell in love with it. So it was my passion. I mean before school, after school, you know, Jim to go on to the one thousand nine hundred and ninety six Olympic Games. I mean it was it was definitely. What I was known for was 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 she loves both and I hear her worsers about when, you know, when she do all the bars and on, all those kind of things. That how you would rip your your callousies off all the time. Did you have those experiences as well? Oh yeah, it's like a badge on or it's like you 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 always tell 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 a myth or what, but that's what we would do and that first we could be back out there the next day. was that camera milte or green tea? Any tea, any tea. So when you get to high school and eating 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 around a little bit. My kid did the same thing. So sometimes those transitions are hard for people, sometimes they're easy. What was that like for you? Yeah, you know, I so we moved from Georgia up to Minnesota for me to start high school, and I mean I look, I look back 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 Georgia moved up into high school and started more high school sports, which are still, you know, rigorous and there in their own mindset, but not quite as much as what I was doing down in Georgia with gymnastics. So I kind of, I guess I found myself a little bit more. Before I was 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 and you know, I feel like I kind of thrived in high school to kind of figure out who I really was. And I mean I have some of my very best friends today. I are from you know, meeting freshman year in high school. So I loved I loved high school. You know, I joke that. You know, if I could go back and do it again, I would. I mean, I know some people love high school, some don't, but I did. I loved it. Yeah, high school was a great time. You know there was obviously you're a mom and a wife and you have responsibilities in your travel all over to every place to tell your story, but you know, in high school there's really no you know, hey, I can't be late for practice. That's like my responsibility, right. So you get the really really enjoy life, and it sounds like 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 one of the teams that that maybe still talk to today? You know, I think things as social media. You know, I do talk to a lot of you know, of my teammates from high school and I think I make so. I did the multiple I didn't a variety of sports and high school, but gymnastics was still my main passion that I did and I think just the captains of the gymnastics team, I mean I think. I think as a teammate, especially a freshman. You know, you come onto this team, you're new, you're trying to kind of sit in and find your way, and the captains of these teams and kind of how they lead the team 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's that's what that's who I looked up to and that's who I asked, you know, I aspire to be and you know, as the years went on and 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 ahead of you and they take notice of you, they kind of bring you in as their own and that's just kind of what you want to carry on as you 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 your senior year, what do you think of that? Are Your Next Steps? I know you went to boulder, but how did you get there and did you want to pursue athletics in college as well. If I have my choice, I would have done gymnastics. You know, all the way through college my body had a different am different mindset. You know, your you're no stranger to end the as athletes. You get injured, your body gets beat up and, you know, after high school it my body was kind of telling mean no, I'm done. So I applied to a bunch of different schools. I A lot of them I applied to did have gymnastics, seems, just in case I could kind of go and get on. And my dad 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 remember leaving, you know, after that weekend then just thinking this is this is where I want to be. I want to be started by by the mountains, that the hiking, camping, you know, that all that, all the outdoors that comes with it. So it was a pretty easy choice once we came to visit. Yeah, I mean we lived in Denver. We lived on the south side of Denver when I played for the broncos. And we used to go to estes park all the time. It's just, you know, and you drive through boulder to get up there and it's just so it's like you don't want to leave. It's like, do we have to go? Do we have to go back to the city? Don't really want to go back to the city. So I'm sure bolder, can you explain what boulder is to people, because, you know, unless you are there and understand it, you don't understand like the streams and the mountains and the how 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 hundred and one freshman year, and look out the mountains and the flat irons like the are I mean they're like it's almost...

...like you can reach out and touch them, and I mean it. I'll tell you it was hard to stay in class and not just want to, you know, go explore the mountains or take an hour and a half hour, hour and a half bus ride up to the mountains to ski in the winner. So it's I think for a lot of students it's a challenge because you have all this poll to want to do all these outdoor things so to try to, you know, stay with 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 sports fan. You know your you were in all kind of fletics. When you get to college and now you're not playing, do you still follow a lot 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 team as a diver and call it or in high school. So I want to diving team. My roommate, who I just met, was joining the crew team, to the rowing team, so joined that with her and it was, 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 row at five am before you're eight, before you're at am class. So I was 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 then sophomore year joining the ROTC program and then that is kind of where my niche began. So in the military ROTC, I mean you stay physically fit, you have pt three mornings a week. So that kind of decame my new my new sports outlet. I guess if that's not that the military is really sports. But you do have to be fit. You have to be very fit to be in the military. There's no doubt about that. So as you're going through college, you're going through your academics, you're trying to keep active, trying to figure out, you know, we all have that when we were in college. I mean, luckily for me I was, I was drafted into the NFL and and have to really figure it out, but it'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 doing crew, you're done a diving team and I'll sudden you're approaching your senior year and you're trying to figure out what the next step is for you. So tell me a little bit about that senior year. And obviously we know the two thousand and one happened and and that was a difficult time because that the night before I was playing on a Monday night football game, so against the New York giants. So tell me about experience your senior year and how the where it led you. Yeah, so, you know, I know that we're talking about sports here and I see like I took a little bit of a break. So I very involved in sports growing up, big part of my life, and then there was like this chunk of military time and now I'm back to, you know, probably living a life of sport. But so senior year of college. Yeah, September eleven, you know, happened and 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 as a 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 to change. You it's on a matter of if, but when you deployed to a 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 American soil, I'd probably be wearing on foreign soil as well. So my path after college was kind of being in the art being in ROTC, which is a reserve officer training corn and it kind of sets you up to be an officer in the military. So Maya two thousand and two, I graduated with a do with my college degree, and I was commissioned as an officer and into the United States army, 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 on and make it a career. So once I graduated I was part of the the transportation core. So I went off and did us some military courses offers are basic court, basically to learn how to do my job in the military. And then in early two thousand and late two thousand and three, I was sent to my first duty assignment forthood Texas, and then in early two thousand and four I was deployed over to Iraq with the First Cavalry Division. So September eleven, I mean it changed all of our lives. I mean to change the world, but it truly change the trajectory of my own life because you know. I mean a few years later I did find myself, you know, getting off a plane in Kawait and stepping foot up 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 you still 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 path the whole way through. So what was that like for you going through the military 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 of know 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 of find their way in the world and they they are the ranks of, you know, private all the way up to sergeant, sergeant major, and kind of going through those enlisted ranks and then, a lot of officers, you come out of college as an officer. 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 all the way up to general. And there are different paths along the way. We're enlisted can then become officers or warrant 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 basic training, but it wasn't the typical basic training that you know, a private enlicted soldier would go through. So training, but just a little bit different than that. The tracks are just definitely different. So what was it like for you? You said you were in the kind of the transportation side of 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 that experience 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 hear your story about that because I think it's so interesting that that that's a big part of what goes through and you have to protect yourself out there and you protecting our country, but you have to learn all these skills so tell me a little bit about that. So the military, you have all these different branches. So you have like the Army Ranger, which I think you said, your brother in law is right, and then you have, like you had the the Infantry Division. There's you know, military, police, intelligence, kind of down to the logistics side, which transportation is more logistics. But when you think about 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 to go out and you know and to to into the Wilderness and, you know, and find find the enemy. I was more about trucks and transportation and bringing supplies. But in a war such as Iraq and Afghanistan, you don't know, nobody safe and unfortunately the roads are not safe, which is what you know. I found out firsthand. But so we still basically yet to answer your question. We all go through marksmanship training. I had a M sixteen. I learned to assemble, to disassemble. We had target practice, we had land nap. I mean I had never show the weapon in my life and here I am with the M sixteen 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 these target practices and then, but then you realize that it's all because you might have 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 cool at first, but then when you will personally realizing this might be a realtime situation 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's on. Yeah, it's it's a little different. Yeah. So one of the things I wanted to ask you because I know that in sports you get knocked 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't get. So you were you're obviously an athlete. You'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 yourself in a place where, man, can I do this? Can I get back up? Is it too hard? You know, you just talked about ripping the the skin off your hands and do I quit or do I keep going? So that day where you had your accident or where you lost your leg, tell us about that day and the stuff that you went through early in life. Did it help you make it through that day, because it had to be a horrific day for you. Yes, so, yeah, April thirteen, two thousand and four it was. I'd been in Iraq for just three weeks, oh, not, not very long, and it was basically a routine convoy and in through central bad dad and the vehicle was in got struck where over Oroadside bomb which, but to make out what could be a long story pretty short, resulted in the loss of my left leg above the knee and kind of threw a series of events. was, you know, had a lifesaving surgery in bad dad and it wasn't until I woke up from that surgery and I said, I think something happened to my leg, because I still really didn'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 sounds so cheesy to say this, but like from moment one, and granted I was under a lot of payments, you know, my mind hadn't really wrapped wrapped itself around what had happened, but it very early on I remember thinking I was glad it was me and another one of my soldiers. I knew that I would be able to get through it and, you know, make it through to the other side because I had an amazing support system. And you know, I think, looking back at my life before that, did sports play a part in that? I mean, yeah, maybe. I mean you know, I knew that I just had a strong team and I think when you grow up in sports you know the concept of team, you know the concept of teamwork and getting each other through hard times together. So I knew I had that team. You know, I've always been very gold driven and very optimistic, like annoyingly optimistic for a lot of people, I think. So, you know, I think that optimist and that that helps. I mean I looked at myself and thought, you know, it like I 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 a lot 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 do other things now. And obviously there are a lot of veterans who come out who've had situations like yours, that they don't have that that inner drive like that. I think that we learned from sports growing up, right, guys that 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 some guidance in their life, but then they haven't had that background of how to get through things. And we see that PTSD come out and a lot of soldiers and how do I deal with this and and all those things where I'm just trying to trying to correlate how sports can help you through things a lot of times when you're younger, as we get older in life, because other people may be in a car crash and have an accident at home, and how do you get through that? And I think your story is so powerful and I love that you go out and talk about it. So tell us about the next step for you. After you're going through your rehab, you're trying 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 step back to what you meant and you know talking about sports and how that can relate. So in sports we don't you don't go out to a game or go 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 go over your way. You you lose when 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 that don't go your way. So I think after, you know, losing my leg, I was at Walter 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 I was. They lost two limbs, three limbs, they lost our eyesight and it 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'm so lucky. So kind of making a decision then to live my life or, you know, those who had given the ultimate sacrifice, to not let losing a leg stop me from doing the things I wanted to do. So that that mindset started pretty early on and it was really just perspective, I mean looking around and seeing how lucky I was. Were you able, when you'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 as well 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 humor and it's almost like you have to use humor to make the situation okay at that makes sense. A lot of humor, lot of support as well. I mean, when I got there, I would you know there were someone who maybe had had a similar injury a month prior. They are up with their process like leg and they are walking here. I am just lost my leg and they they do everything they can do to make me, to help me, 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 things that we can do, like if there's someone next to me who was missing their 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, between losing normal losing a leg? So you kind of find the humor in it, 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 the soldiers, the nurses, the therapist,...

I mean that is what got me through and they are I can't say enough good things about just the great people 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 been married 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 cry and we support each other. But humors the one thing that gets our family through a lot of different adventures, I should say. But so then you're having up, you're coming back. Now what you know? You go in now you're going to be a Paralympian. Tells about that next transition, because that'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 do that. that. Yes, you know, I saw I after I lost my leg. I learned to walk again. I had I was independent with my prosthetic leg and outly on my hospital bed and just I knew that I wouldn't really be myself again until I got back in do athletics, just because I had been so athletic focus 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 it was like come learn about the US Paralympic Games and I was like, Oh, what's that? So I go to this presentation and they'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 with a disability and I dream to go into the Olympics is a gymnast. That didn't happen, but it's kind of like I had a second chance. So I walked out of that room. Somehow, some way I went I was going to be a Paralympian. So kind of jumped in, you know, head first, literally into into the swimming pool. I love the water and made me feel a whole and I decided that I was in to try and make 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 broad star, 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 in my life, not just as a younger athlete, but after losing a leg, just kind of showing me how much ability is in my disability. I can still be in the pool, I can still run, I could Buke, I can do all these things. I just have to believe that I can 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 eight Daijing Paralympics in the sport of swimming, transitioning to triathlon, competing in the two thousand and sixteen games, and triathlon going for the two thousand and twenty 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 want to ask you, is that I was on your twitter. I was I was 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 about those calls that you had to make with your parents and how supportive they've been through your whope career, because we know when we're kids, and I have kids that are older now, you travel everywhere with them. You you live their life with them as they're going through that. To tell me about your parents and and this whole process that that you've just explained to us and how they deal with it as well. Like I mean I can't imagine getting a phone 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. But then it was thirty, the two thousand and four, I mean getting a phone call from me that their youngest daughter, I've just been severely wounded in the war, and I as a parent now, I mean I get killed 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 my side, they were. We reassured each other or some days I needed reassurance, some days they needed reassurance, and then, you know, realizing together that life was going to go on, I was going to be okay, and then, you know, standing by my side through this. At the beginning, seemed like this instant amount of goal. Wanted to become a Paralympian. But never they've never throw my entire life. They've never told me I don't know, you shouldn't do that, because that's too 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 cheerleaders by my side. So and it continue to be. I mean on the and the stands and Beijing, on the on the racecourse, and it Rio in two thousand and sixteen. I mean, you know, hearing my parents, you know, Go Melissa, I mean that drives me just knowing how much they've been through, all the hours my parents spent, you know, to and from the gymnastics jam and the sacrifices that they made. And I think you think about your parents and what they've done for you and you only helpe that you can turn around and do that for your own kids. Right, yeah, now, that make them makes a really special and then you know that what a great lesson that you know now with you having children, now you know your try. I'm sure you're doing the same thing. So how are you now that you've done so much in your life, you've experienced being in the Olympics, your experience now running triathons, how are you taking that and and showing your kids that how to support a team, how to be on a team where they play in sports now as well? So there yet they're two and five, three and five, she just turned three. So my son he plays soccer and teaball. He just broke his arm falling off the monkey bars and us week so little break, hope into the winner, but I think 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 sports teaches children so much about teamwork, about winning, about how to how to lose, and I will be adamant that my sport, my kids do play one, 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's you know, they know that I'm a little bit different. I only have one leg. They know that I swim, bike and run a lot. You know, they asked me why. I say because I want to become the dust 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 on my bike doing a bike workout in the garage and they come out and they say go mommy, go, go faster mommy, like they at least I think they get it, or they will get it eventually. So, but to them, you know, it's kind of normal, like their mom has one leg and she likes to swim, bike and run a hot and I think eventually they'll realize why I'm doing that. They know I have a I have a metal from from the two thousand and Sixteen Paralympic Games and they know that. They've seen it. I don't know if they fully comprehend what it means yet, but I love being a mom that looks a little bit different, but showing them first hand that you can still get out there and and dream big. Yeah, I mean that we were saying away when our kids were little. We just said, hey, we're they're going to try everything. We taught him how to swim the first you know, as soon as 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 hated to run, so she became a goalie, and you don't know those things until unless they try everything. Right, she was a goalie in Lacrosse and field hockey, but good luck with your kids on that, because I know it's not easy. So you've gone through all these things. Try Ath a lot. Try that. Being a try athlete is super difficult. Were real quick. Last couple questions before you got to go. Tell us about the mental stamina it takes to be a triathlete, because it's not easy and I think that people in sports need to understand that. Yeah, so swim, bike and run. I used to think trathletes we're crazy and because who wants to 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 holy cow, like 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 you get I 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 going to win the thing, but you can get out there and swam, bike and run and who cares if you're one of the last ones across the finish line. But like you can do it, but if you're competing at a high level and an elite level, yeah, it's it's hard. I mean you swim as fast as you can, you 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 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 doing the things we do and when it's when...

...it gets hard for me out there on that run, I think about why I'm out there, and I mean I'm not there 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 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 and back on that podium again in Tokyo. So yeah, it's it's a good life. Yeah, I'm sure you know, because I think a lot of things were canceled through covid. I'm sure the sheer has been a little tough for 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 February and 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 we would typically do, but we just wanted to race. It was still happening and we found it and it was just great to be back out on a racecourse. Well, that is awesome. Well, one of the most amazing people we've ever had on the show and I appreciate you joining on hollow up with Guests Melissa stockwhill. So before we go here, Melissa, can you please tell us about your charity? I think it's a dare to try and how all of our fans can reach you or how some people that maybe have a business want you to come out and speak. So please give us that information so that we can share it with all of our people, all of our listeners. Yeah, but too so I do. So I have a nonprofit out of Chicago called dare to try pair of Triathlon Club and we get other athletes with physical disabilities into the sport of triathlon. So providing a deactive equipment, coaching and really just showing you adults, injured service members, just how 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 and we always take there's volunteers, there's programming, a lot of opportunities on if you're interested. And then personally, so you know, social media is m stockwell, 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 cute kids along the way. And then my website, just Melissa stockholdcom. Does have, you know, contact tab that goes. I've the agent that I work with and I do speak all over for various companies organizations, sharing my story and hopes that others are are inspired by it. And if you want to take it one step further, I did just write a book. Is called the power of choice and it's actually how it's done on Amazon, Amazon barned and noble. It came out of February but it's kind of talks about my story, the obstacles overcoming on and just how we all have the power to choose our own lives and what we want to do and just to make the most of it. So hopefully you're interested. It's you'll read it and be inspired. Yeah, no, thank...

...you. And I think the power of 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 line was choices, decisions, consequence us right, we all have a choice to make and and you know those decisions lead to consequences and and if you and even if you make it the wrong choice, you can go back and Redo it and have better consequences. But what you've done for us. Thank you for serving our country everything that you've done. We can't appreciate you more. Please keep 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 thank you 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 on huddle up with guestcom or wherever you listen to your favorite podcast. Join US at 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 in the future as well. We're going to follow you all the way to Tokyo. So everyone have a great day. Thank you again, Melissa, for joining 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 just like this, go to huddle up with Gustscom, where you can find our social channels, subscribe to hear more by our merchandise and join our exclusive huddle through Patreon. Please join us next week when we talk to more guests about how sports shape their life.

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