Huddle Up with Gus
Huddle Up with Gus

Episode · 1 year ago

Melissa Stockwell

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Welcome to Huddle Up with Gus, with 15 year NFL quarterback Gus Frerotte. As the United States is in full swing at the Tokyo Olympics, Gus is pleased to reprise his interview with Paralympic athlete Melissa Stockwell. Melissa is an amazing athlete, triathlete, swimmer and former U.S. Army officer. 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 & 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. 

Hey everyone, we appreciate you joining us in the huddle. I'm your host, 15 year NFL quarterback. Gus Frerotte alongside my longtime friend and co host Dave Hager, Where we talk to guests about how sports shape their life. Be sure to check us out on our website, huddle up with Gus dot com where you can listen to more episodes just like this. Now let's join the huddle. Hey everyone, thanks for joining me. Another episode of political. Guess. I'm your host guests for uh 15 Year NFL quarterback. And uh today our guest is very, I'm very honored 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 radio dot com app or wherever you listen to your favorite podcast. You can also find us on huddle up with gusts dot com and the new 16 31 digital news. Uh this is the 16 31 digital news studio where we're coming from. But today we have a bronze star. Um, honoree. 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. So Melissa. Um, it's an honor. And thank you for joining me on how to up with us today. Thank you for having me on. I'm honored to be here. Thank you. Um, so really are shows about how sports shaped your life. I see that your hometown was Eden, prairie Minnesota, which I know pretty well. Was up there a couple times with the Minnesota Vikings and really love Minnesota. It's a great state at and the twin cities are a great place to be. So tell me about, I think that's where you grew up in my right. Yeah. So I went to high school in Eden Prairie, um kind of grew up in Georgia before that, but I consider definitely considered Minnesota at my home and my mountain colorado now, but still trying to get back there. Um, at least once or twice a year just to visit friends and take it all in. I love Minnesota. So will you admit, what did you come from? A military family? Um, I did not know I learned at a pretty young age just you know, I was a big jim missed when I was younger. So I mean I know very much talking about sports and gymnastics was my, 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, the white and the blue and um so I decided pretty early on, I wanted to join the military when I got older to give back to a country that I learned to love so much at a young age, but no real military in my family. So why gymnastics was, 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've made them try every sport, but so...

...why gymnastics for you? Um you know, my parents always said I was kind of jumping on everything and over everything, I think that's typically how, how young start and then I kind of 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, dream to go on to the 1996 Olympic Games. I mean it was it was definitely what I was known for was being was Melissa gymnast. So um my wife was a gymnast as well and and uh and a cheerleader for the high school team and you know, because she could do all the flips and everything, but she loves both. Um and I hear her war stories about when, you know, when she do all the bars and on all those kind of things that how you would rip your callouses off all the time. Did you have those experiences as well? Oh yeah, it was like a badge of honor, 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 um, what they would always tell us to do is you put, you put tea bags on, on those rips, we would call them and they would heal faster. I know if that was a myth or what, but that's what we were doing faster. So we could be back out there the next day. Was that camomile tea or green tea any? So when you get to high school and Eden prairie, what was that experience like that? That that first transition for you now because you said you were in other places, you moved around a little bit. My kids 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, so we moved from Georgia up to Minnesota for me to start high school and I mean I look I look back at my age in prior years with such fond memories I think you know, I was like an avid gymnast on a club team in Georgia, moved into high school and started a more high school sports which are still you know rigorous in their in their own mindset but not quite as much as what I was doing down in Georgia with gymnastics. So I kinda I guess I found myself a little bit more before I was melissa 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 um you know, I 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, I would, I mean, I know some people love high school, some don't, but I I did. I loved it. Yeah. High school was a great time. You know, there's obviously you're a mom and a wife and you have responsibilities and your travel all over 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 to 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 maybe still...

...talked to today? You know, I think thanks to social media, you know, I do talk to a lot of, you know, of my teammates from high school and I think, I mean, so I did the most, I didn't a variety of sports in high school, but gymnastics was still my, my main passion that I did and um 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 fit 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 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, you know, into your senior year, what are you thinking 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? Yeah. Um if I had my choice, I would have done gymnastics, you know, all the way through college, my body had a different, uh, a different mindset, you know, you're, you're no stranger to and as athletes you get injured, your body gets beat up. And um you know, after high school my body was kind of telling me no, I'm done. So I applied to a bunch of different schools, I um a lot of them I applied to did have gymnastic teams just in case I could kind of go and get on. And my dad was like, why don't we go check out University of Colorado in Boulder? And we came out here for a weekend and you can't really go back, you walk on campus and it's beautiful and you're like in the mountains and remember leaving you know, after that weekend and just thinking, this is this is where I want to be, I want to be started by by the mountains, hiking camping. You know that all the, all the outdoors that comes with it. So it was a pretty easy choice once we came to visit. Yeah, I mean we we lived in Denver, we lived on the south side of Denver when I played for the broncos and uh 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 boulder, can you explain what boulder is to people because um you know, unless you are there and understand it, you don't understand like the streams and the mountains and how it's built and it's just so beautiful. I mean, I would say, I remember I would sit in my chemistry class, chemistry one oh one freshman year and look out the mountains and the flat irons like are, I mean they're like, it'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 the mountains. Uh, oh, or take an hour and a half hour, hour and a half bus ride up to the mountains to ski in the winter. So it's, I think for a lot of students is a challenge because you have all this pull to want to do all these outdoor things. So to try to, you know, stay with the academics and uh, you know, do 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, you're, you're in all kind of athletics 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? Yes. So when I, when I went to college, I became part of the diving team was a diver and call it or in high school. So I went on the diving team. Um, my 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 3 30 AM driving to the reservoir. Like this little cult of people that are like go into this reservoir to row at five a.m. Before you're before you're eight a.m. Class. Um So I was still, I feel like I was still active and still athletic. Um you know kind of did a lot of rock climbing and camping and backpacking and then sophomore year joining ROTC program. And then that is kind of where my my niche began. So in the military ROTC, I mean you stay physically fit, you have P. T. Three mornings a week. So that kind of became my new my new sports outlet. I guess if that's now that the military is really sports, but you do have to be said, 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 were in college. I mean, luckily for me, I was I was drafted into the NFL and I'd have to really figure it out. But 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 you're doing crew, you're on a diving team, and all of a 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 2000 and one um 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 that where it led you. Yeah, so you know, I know that we're talking about sports here and I feel like I took a little bit of a break. So I'm 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 11th, you know, happened and it was a Tuesday. Um, it was ROTC day, I'm wearing my uniform, we are sitting in a classroom...

...watching the news unfold on tv as the towers fell. And it was that day that our instructor, you know, looked at all of us that he said today, all of your lives are gonna change you. It's not a matter of if, but when you deploy to a foreign country and be and and go to basically go to war. So I knew that the uniform that I become so proud to wear an american soil, I'd probably be wearing it on on foreign soil as well. So my path after college was kind of being in being in ROTC, which is a reserve Officer training corps and it kind of sets you up to be an officer in the military. So May of 2002, I graduated with with my college degree and I was commissioned as an officer into, 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 Transportation Corps. So I went off and did some military courses, officer basic basically to learn how to do my job in the military. And then in early 2000, late 2000 and three, I was sent to my first duty assignment, Fort Hood texas. And then in early 2000 and four, um I was deployed over to Iraq with the 1st Cavalry Division. So September 11. I mean it changed all of our lives and change the world, but it truly changed the trajectory of my own life because you know, I mean a few years later I did find myself getting off a plane in Kuwait and stepping foot up into Iraq. So it truly changed. I mean, 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. Um So what was that like for you going through the military? Um coming from college, which is different than a lot of people? Yeah, so so in the military you basically have kind of to track, well there's actually multiple tracks, but a lot of people kind of know, there's one track, the enlisted track and there's an officer track and a lot of enlisted soldiers, they join the military, you know 18 years old, just out of high 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 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 were enlisted can then become officers or warrant officers. Um 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, private enlisted soldier would go through. So training but just a little bit different than 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. Um Tell me about that experience for you because my my 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 um that that that's a big part of what goes through and you have to protect yourself out there and you're protecting our country, but you have to learn all these skills. So tell me a little bit about that. So some of 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 have the infantry division, there's, you know, military police intelligence, um kind of down to the logistic 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 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's safe. Um And unfortunately the roads are not safe, which is what you know I found out firsthand. But so so basically yeah to answer your question, we all go through marksmanship training. I had an M. 16, I learned to assemble to disassemble. We had target practice, we had land nav. I mean I never shot a weapon in my life and here I am with the M. 16 or M 2 49 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 paint your face of camo, you know, your training, you get these weapons and the target practices and then, but then you realize that it's all because you might have to actually use this someday 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 that this might be a real time situation kind of thing, like it's I mean it's scary, it's I was I mean I never thought of myself as, you know, taking my weapon out and actually shooting it in a real life situation. So it's uh yeah, it's um 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, 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, um 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 skin off your hands and do I quit or do I keep going? So that day where you had your accident where um 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. Um, so yeah, april 13, 2000 and four, it was I'd been in Iraq for just three weeks, so not not very long, and it was basically a routine convoy and then through Central Baghdad and the vehicle I was in, got struck by a roadside bomb, which was to make a, it could be a long story, pretty short, resulted in the loss of my left leg above the knee, and kind of through a series of events, was, you know, had a life saving surgery in Baghdad, and it wasn't until I woke up from that surgery, and I said, I 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 have 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 pain meds, you know, my mind hadn't really wrapped wrapped itself around what had happened, but very early on, I remember thinking I was glad it was me and another one of my soldiers, um 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 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 um you know, I've always been very goal driven and very optimistic, like annoyingly optimistic for a lot of people, I think. So, you know, I think that optimism that that helps, I mean I looked at myself and thought, you know, like I 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. Um and obviously there are a lot of veterans who come out who have 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 18 that really haven't had a path or had a team and then they're lost 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 a lot of soldiers and how do I deal with this 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 mentioned, you know, talking about sports and how that can relate. So in sports we don't you don't want to go out to a game or go out to a race and always win. Like you have these down, 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 does help learning how to deal with things that don't go your way. Um, so I think um after you know, losing my leg, I was at walter reed Army medical center and looking around walter reed, I saw so many other soldiers that were so much worse off than I was. They lost two limbs, three limbs. They lost their 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, I'm so lucky, so kind of making a decision then to live my life for, 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. Um, 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 reed and you're going through rehab and you're in the hospital? Um, what were your conversations like with the other vets that were there with you as well that have had similar accidents? It's, I mean, it sounds strange, but unless you're in the situation, you get it. There's a lot of humor. It's almost like you have to use humor to make the situation okay if that makes sense. A lot of humor. A lot of support as well. I mean when I got there, I would, you know, there was someone who maybe had had a similar injury a month prior there up with their prosthetic leg and they are walking here, I am just lost my leg and they do everything they can do to make me to help me talk me through the process to tell me what's going to happen and how I'm going to get through it. Um, 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, there are and it's like this constant banter of, well, you can do that, but I can do this. I'm like, who has the worst injury between losing an arm and a leg. So you kind of find the humor in it. Um, because I think that's really what gets you through a lot of times, But just the support. I mean walter reed, the...

...camaraderie between the soldiers, the nurses, a 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 wanted me to get better. Right? That is amazing. You know, you talk about humor. I've been married almost 26 years from my wife and now and you know, um gets us through a lot of things and that that we laugh and we cry and we support each other. But you are the one thing that gets our family through a lot of different adventures, I should say. But so then you're healing up, you're coming back now. What? You know, you go and now you're going to be a paralympian. Tell us 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 veteran ever to do that. Yeah. Yes. Um you know, so I after I lost my leg, I I learned to walk again. I had I was independent with my prosthetic leg and I'll be in my hospital bed and just I knew that I wouldn't really be myself again until I got back and 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 I was like come learn about the U. S. 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 athletic athletic stage for somebody with a disability. And I dreamed to go into the olympics is a gym missed. That didn't happen but it's kind of like I had a second chance so I walked out of that room and that somehow some way I was I was going to be a paralympian so kind of jumped in headfirst literally um into into the swimming pool, I love the water, it made me feel whole and I decided that I was gonna try and make the 2008 Beijing paralympic team in the sport of swimming um and you know, I was medically retired from the Army, purple heart, bronze star, but making that jumped from the military into that back into athletics, it's the 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 can bike, I can do all these things, I just have to believe that I can do it. So um sports changed my life, I mean very early on and I mean this many years later competing in the 2008, Beijing paralympics in the sport of swimming, transitioning to triathlon, competing in the 2000 and 16 games in triathlon, going for the 2021 games in Tokyo. I mean I probably live a life of sport, I mean it's it's kind of everything to me. Yeah, no, I 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 and I was I was following was, as my kids say, creeping, don't create dad, but I knew I was 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 whole 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. So tell me about your parents and this whole process that that you've just explained to us and how they dealt with it as well. I mean I can't imagine getting a phone call. So again, not a military family and you know they they were unsure of the military and then I fell in love with it. So they fell in love with it because I was passionate about it. But then April 13, 2004, I mean getting a phone call from me that their youngest daughter has just been severely wounded in the war and I as a parent now, I mean I get chills thinking about it. I just 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. 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 instrumental goal wanting to become a paralympian. But never they've never, throughout my entire life, I've never told me, I don't know you shouldn't do that because that's to that goal is just too big. Instead they say, well let's do it, let's do it together. And they are my biggest cheerleaders by my side. So and they continue to be I mean on the stands in Beijing on the on the on the race course in in Rio in 2016. 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 gym and the sacrifices that they made. And I think you think about your parents and what they've done for you and you only help that you can turn around and do that for your own kids right now. That makes them, makes it really special. And then you know that what a great lesson that you know, now with you having Children now. Um you know, you're trying, I'm sure you're doing the same thing. So how are you now that you've done so much in your life? Um you've experienced being in the olympics, you experienced now running triathlons. How are you taking that and and showing your kids that how to support a team, how to be on a team. Are they playing sports now as well? So they're yeah, they're two and 53 and five. She just turned three. So my my son um he plays soccer and T ball, he just broke his arm falling off the monkey bars last week. So little break going into the winter. But I think I will be uh 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. Um 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 best 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 work out 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 lot and I think eventually they'll realize why I'm doing that. They know I have a I have a medal from, from the 2016 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 firsthand that you can still get out there and and dream big. Yeah, I mean we were the same way when our kids were little, we just said, Hey, we're going to try everything. We taught them how to swim the first, you know, as soon as we can get him in the pool and then after that we just said, ok, we're going to try every sport and uh, 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. Uh so you're you've gone through all these things, triathlon, try being a triathlete is super difficult. Um real quick, last couple questions before you gotta 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 triathletes were crazy because she wants to do that, like all at the same time on the same day, but it's amazing how addicting it is. And you get out there, you swim like 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 can, 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 gonna win the thing, but you can get out there and swim bike and run, and who cares if you're one of the last ones across the finish line, but you can do it, but if you're competing at a high level and an elite level, um yeah, it's um 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 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 an author 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 a it's a good life. Yeah, I'm sure, you know, because I think a lot of things were cancelled through Covid, I'm sure this year has been a little tough for you. Just training. I don't know if you've been able to compete it true. We had actually raised one of my raised very early on, in february in Australia and then everything else was canceled. There was a local race in Loveland colorado just on sunday. Um, 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 guest Melissa Stockwell. So before we go here melissa, can you please tell us about your charity? I think it's 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, look too. So I do. So I have a non profit out of Chicago called Dare to Try para triathlon club. And we get other athletes with physical disabilities into the sport of triathlon. So providing adaptive equipment, coaching and really just showing you adults, injured service members, just how much abilities in their disability and that they can still become triathletes. So the website there is dare to the number two t ri dot org. And um, we always take there's volunteers, there's programming, a lot of opportunities, um, if you're interested. And then personally, so, you know, social media is m stockwell 01 Um, if you'd like to follow along with, you know my journey to Tokyo 2021 you'll see some pretty cute kids along the way. Um And then my website, just melissa stockwell dot com does have, you know, contact have that goes on my agent that I work with and I do speak all over for various companies organizations, um sharing my story um in hopes that others are inspired by a 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 out, it's out on amazon amazon Barnes and noble. It came out in february, but it kind of talks about my story, the obstacles overcoming up 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 and his line was choices, decisions, consequences, right? We all have a choice to make. And you know, those decisions lead to consequences. And and if you, even if you make 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. Um, everything that you've done, uh, we 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. Um, and thank you for all of your service and joining us on how to up with guests. Everyone, Melissa Stockwell. We appreciate her. Um, you can listen to the podcast on huddle up with dust dot com or wherever you listen to your favorite podcast, join us at the new 16 31 digital news studio here. Uh, but we appreciate you listening. We appreciate Melissa Stockwell. Congratulations on all your accomplishments and good luck in the future as well. We're gonna follow you all the way to Tokyo. So everyone have a great day. Thank you again Melissa for joining us in studio. 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 gusts dot com 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 shaped their life.

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