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Huddle Up with Gus
Huddle Up with Gus

Episode · 3 months 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 joiningus in the huddle. I'm your host, 15 year NFL quarterback. Gus Frerottealongside my longtime friend and co host Dave Hager, Where we talk toguests about how sports shape their life. Be sure to check us out on ourwebsite, huddle up with Gus dot com where you can listen to more episodesjust like this. Now let's join the huddle. Hey everyone, thanks forjoining me. Another episode of political. Guess. I'm your host guestsfor uh 15 Year NFL quarterback. And uh today our guest is very, I'm veryhonored to be able to talk with her and get her opinion of, of how sportsshaped her life among many, many other things. But you can listen to ourpodcast on the new radio dot com app or wherever you listen to your favoritepodcast. You can also find us on huddle up with gusts dot com and the new 16 31digital news. Uh this is the 16 31 digital news studio where we're comingfrom. But today we have a bronze star. Um, honoree. We have a Purple Heartwinner. I don't know if that's an award that, you know, it takes a lot of self sacrifice forthat. But Melissa Stockwell is joining us today. She has accomplished so muchin her life and she leads people in the right direction. And if you want aleader, 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 reallyare 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 withthe Minnesota Vikings and really love Minnesota. It's a great state at andthe twin cities are a great place to be. So tell me about, I think that's whereyou grew up in my right. Yeah. So I went to high school in Eden Prairie, umkind of grew up in Georgia before that, but I consider definitely consideredMinnesota at my home and my mountain colorado now, but still trying to getback there. Um, at least once or twice a year just to visit friends and takeit all in. I love Minnesota. So will you admit, what did you come from? Amilitary family? Um, I did not know I learned at apretty young age just you know, I was a big jim missed when I was younger. So Imean I know very much talking about sports and gymnastics was my, my lifeand before we gymnastics meet, you know the american flag is there we hear thenational 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 tojoin the military when I got older to give back to a country that I learnedto love so much at a young age, but no real military in my family. So whygymnastics 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 andI've made them try every sport, but so...

...why gymnastics for you? Um you know, my parents always said Iwas kind of jumping on everything and over everything, I think that'stypically how, how young start and then I kind of put me in the class and Ikind of fell in love with it. So It was my passion. I mean before school, afterschool, you know, dream to go on to the 1996 Olympic Games. I mean it was itwas definitely what I was known for was being was Melissa gymnast. So um mywife was a gymnast as well and and uh and a cheerleader for the high schoolteam and you know, because she could do all the flips and everything, but sheloves both. Um and I hear her war stories about when, you know, when shedo all the bars and on all those kind of things that how you would rip yourcallouses 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 thenit 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 thoserips, we would call them and they would heal faster. I know if that was a mythor what, but that's what we were doing faster. So we could be back out therethe next day. Was that camomile tea or green tea any? So when you get to high school andEden prairie, what was that experience like that? That that first transitionfor you now because you said you were in other places, you moved around alittle bit. My kids did the same thing. So sometimes those transitions are hardfor people, sometimes they're easy. What was that like for you? Yeah. Youknow, so we moved from Georgia up to Minnesota for me to start high schooland I mean I look I look back at my age in prior years with such fond memoriesI 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 stillyou know rigorous in their in their own mindset but not quite as much as what Iwas doing down in Georgia with gymnastics. So I kinda I guess I foundmyself a little bit more before I was melissa the gymnast and now I was, wellit's the gymnast but I also was on the track team and on the diving team andum you know, I I feel like I kind of thrived in high school to kind offigure out who I really was and I mean I have some of my very best friendstoday, I are from, you know, meeting freshman year in high school. So Iloved, I loved high school. You know, I joke that, you know, if I could go backand do it again. I, I would, I mean, I know some people love high school, somedon'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 andyour travel all over every place to tell your story. But you know, in highschool 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 lifeand 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 mentorof one of the teams that maybe still...

...talked to today? You know, I thinkthanks to social media, you know, I do talk to a lot of, you know, of myteammates from high school and I think, I mean, so I did the most, I didn't avariety of sports in high school, but gymnastics was still my, my mainpassion that I did and um I think just the captains of the gymnastics team, Imean, I think, I think as a teammate, especially a freshman, you know, youcome onto this team, you're new, you're trying to kind of fit in and find yourway and the captains of these teams and kind of how they lead the team and howthey treat the teammates and the new athletes that come in just to make themfeel like part of that family. I mean that's that's what, that's who I lookedup to, and that's who I aspire to be and, you know, as the years went on andsenior 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, Ithink the mentors are those that come ahead of you and they take notice ofyou, they kind of bring you in as their own and that's just kind of what youwant 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, whatare you thinking of that are your next steps? I know you went to Boulder, buthow 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 theway through college, my body had a different, uh, a different mindset, youknow, you're, you're no stranger to and as athletes you get injured, your bodygets beat up. And um you know, after high school my body was kind of tellingme no, I'm done. So I applied to a bunch of different schools, I um a lotof them I applied to did have gymnastic teams just in case I could kind of goand get on. And my dad was like, why don't we go check out University ofColorado in Boulder? And we came out here for a weekend and you can't reallygo back, you walk on campus and it's beautiful and you're like in themountains 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. Soit was a pretty easy choice once we came to visit. Yeah, I mean we we livedin Denver, we lived on the south side of Denver when I played for the broncosand uh we used to go to estes park all the time. It's just, you know, and youdrive through boulder to get up there and it's just so it's like you don'twant 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 youexplain what boulder is to people because um you know, unless you arethere and understand it, you don't understand like the streams and themountains 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 freshmanyear and look out the mountains and the flat irons like are, I mean they'relike, it's almost like you can reach...

...out and touch them and I mean, I'lltell you it was hard to stay in class and not just want to, you know, goexplore the mountains. Uh, oh, or take an hour and a half hour, hour and ahalf bus ride up to the mountains to ski in the winter. So it's, I think fora lot of students is a challenge because you have all this pull to wantto do all these outdoor things. So to try to, you know, stay with theacademics and uh, you know, do do that when you're not in the classroom. But Imean, yeah, I think unless you go to Boulder, really any mountain city incolorado, it's hard to explain until you're there, but it's such a, such abeautiful thing. So I know you're a big sports fan, you know, you're, you're inall kind of athletics when you get to college and now you're not playing. Doyou 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 adiver and call it or in high school. So I went on the diving team. Um, my myroommate who I just met was joining the crew team to the rowing team, so joinedthat 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 rowat five a.m. Before you're before you're eight a.m. Class. Um So I wasstill, I feel like I was still active and still athletic. Um you know kind ofdid a lot of rock climbing and camping and backpacking and then sophomore yearjoining ROTC program. And then that is kind of where my my niche began. So inthe military ROTC, I mean you stay physically fit, you have P. T. Threemornings a week. So that kind of became my new my new sports outlet. I guess ifthat's now that the military is really sports, but you do have to be said, youhave 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 thatwere in college. I mean, luckily for me, I was I was drafted into the NFL andI'd have to really figure it out. But so many people are trying to figure outtheir next step in life. So when you're going through all this, you're in theROTC, you're you're doing crew, you're on a diving team, and all of a suddenyou're approaching your senior year and you're trying to figure out what thenext step is for you. So, tell me a little bit about that senior year, andobviously we know the 2000 and one um happened and and that was a difficulttime because that the night before I was playing on a monday night footballgame, so against the new york Giants. So tell me about experience your senioryear and how that where it led you. Yeah, so you know, I know that we'retalking about sports here and I feel like I took a little bit of a break. SoI'm very involved in sports growing up, big part of my life and then there waslike this chunk of military time and now I'm back to, you know, probablyliving 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 myuniform, we are sitting in a classroom...

...watching the news unfold on tv as thetowers fell. And it was that day that our instructor, you know, looked at allof us that he said today, all of your lives are gonna change you. It's not amatter of if, but when you deploy to a foreign country and be and and go tobasically go to war. So I knew that the uniform that I become so proud to wearan 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 areserve Officer training corps and it kind of sets you up to be an officer inthe military. So May of 2002, I graduated with with my college degreeand I was commissioned as an officer into, into the United States Army. Andthat kind of set my path up for me for at least the next four years. But youknow, a lot of people go on and make it a career. So once I graduated, I waspart 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 inearly 2000, late 2000 and three, I was sent to my first duty assignment, FortHood texas. And then in early 2000 and four, um I was deployed over to Iraqwith the 1st Cavalry Division. So September 11. I mean it changed all ofour lives and change the world, but it truly changed the trajectory of my ownlife because you know, I mean a few years later I did find myself gettingoff a plane in Kuwait and stepping foot up into Iraq. So it truly changed. Imean, definitely changed my life. So when you became an officer, when youget out of school you go right to the military, you're an officer. So do youstill have to go through the same basic training? Is is it all different?Because my wife's little brother was an army ranger. So we followed his paththe whole way through. Um So what was that like for you going through themilitary? 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'sactually 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 enlistedsoldiers, they join the military, you know 18 years old, just out of highschool and trying to kind of find their way in the world. And they are theranks of you know 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 and you startwith second lieutenant, then you go up to you know first lieutenant, Captainmajor and then all the way up to general. And there are different pathsalong the way were enlisted can then become officers or warrant officers. UmSo there are different paths that that you can take. But the training is asdifferent as well. So I had a type of...

...basic training but it wasn't thetypical basic training that you know, private enlisted soldier would gothrough. So training but just a little bit different than the tracks are justdefinitely different. So what was it like for you? You said you were in thekind of the transportation side of the military, but you still have to learnhow to shoot a gun. You have to do all those types of things. Um Tell me aboutthat experience for you because my my little brother in law, you know, hetells me a lot of those stories, but I'd love to hear your story about thatbecause I think it's so interesting um that that that's a big part of whatgoes through and you have to protect yourself out there and you'reprotecting our country, but you have to learn all these skills. So tell me alittle bit about that. So some of the military, you have all these differentbranches. So you have like the army ranger, which I think you said yourbrother in law is right. And then you have like you have the infantrydivision, there's, you know, military police intelligence, um kind of down tothe logistic side, which transportation is more logistics. But when you thinkabout deploying over to Iraq or Afghanistan, I mean it didn't matter,we still had to be trained and you know I wasn't my my particular job was notto go out and you know and to to into the wilderness and you know and findfind the enemy. I was more about trucks and transportation and bringingsupplies. But in a war such as Iraq and Afghanistan, you don't know, nobody'ssafe. Um And unfortunately the roads are not safe, which is what you know Ifound 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 assembleto disassemble. We had target practice, we had land nav. I mean I never shot aweapon in my life and here I am with the M. 16 or M 2 49 automatic weaponand 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, yourtraining, you get these weapons and the target practices and then, but then yourealize that it's all because you might have to actually use this someday likein a real time situation. And so I think it's kind of, you know, it's funand cool at first, but then when you will personally realizing that thismight be a real time situation kind of thing, like it's I mean it's scary,it's I was I mean I never thought of myself as, you know, taking my weaponout and actually shooting it in a real life situation. So it's uh yeah, it'sum 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 backup, it makes you tough, it does things that, you know, if you don't play youdon't get. So you were you're obviously an athlete, um you've worked very hardand 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 whereman, can I do this? Can I get back up? Is it too hard? You know, you justtalked 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? Tellus about that day and the stuff that you went through early in life, did ithelp you make it through that day? Because it had to be a horrific day foryou? Yes. Um, so yeah, april 13, 2000 andfour, it was I'd been in Iraq for just three weeks, so not not very long, andit was basically a routine convoy and then through Central Baghdad and thevehicle I was in, got struck by a roadside bomb, which was to make a, itcould be a long story, pretty short, resulted in the loss of my left legabove the knee, and kind of through a series of events, was, you know, had alife saving surgery in Baghdad, and it wasn't until I woke up from thatsurgery, and I said, I I think something happened to my leg because Istill really didn't know the extent of the injury, and that's when they saidit's gone, you don't have your leg anymore, and, you know, I think itsounds so cheesy to say this, but like from Moment One and granted I was undera lot of pain meds, you know, my mind hadn't really wrapped wrapped itselfaround what had happened, but very early on, I remember thinking I wasglad it was me and another one of my soldiers, um I knew that I would beable to get through it and, you know, make it through to the other sidebecause I had an amazing support system and, you know, I think looking back atmy life before that, did sports play a part in that? I mean, yeah, maybe. Imean, you know, I I knew that I just had a strong team and I think when yougrow up in sports, you know, the concept of team, you know, the conceptof teamwork and getting each other through hard times together. So I knewI had that team um you know, I've always been very goal driven and veryoptimistic, like annoyingly optimistic for a lot of people, I think. So, youknow, I think that optimism that that helps, I mean I looked at myself andthought, you know, like I I can do this, I'm alive and I'm gonna make it throughthis. So yeah, I know, I'm not saying it was all, you know, unicorns andrainbows, I just lost my leg, but there was a lot of optimism when I think itcould have gone the other direction. Yeah, and I think that that optimumoptimism led you to what you're doing today, obviously put you on a path tosay, okay, I can do other things now. Um and obviously there are a lot ofveterans who come out who have had situations like yours that they don'thave that that inner drive like that. I think that we learned from sportsgrowing up, right, guys that go in at 18 that really haven't had a path orhad a team and then they're lost and...

...the military gives them some structureand some some guidance in their life, but then they haven't had thatbackground of how to get through things. And we see that PTSD come out a lot ofsoldiers and how do I deal with this and all those things where I'm justtrying to, trying to correlate how sports can help you through things alot of times when you're younger, as we get older in life, because other peoplemay be in a car crash and have an accident at home. And how do you getthrough that? And I think your story is so powerful and I love that you go outand talk about it. So, tell us about the next step for you after you'regoing through your rehab, you're trying to mentally get through all this. Whatwas that process like for you? Um so I think real quick just to kind of take astep back to what you mentioned, you know, talking about sports and how thatcan relate. So in sports we don't you don't want to go out to a game or goout to a race and always win. Like you have these down, you have games whereor, you know, gymnastics performances that don't go over your way. You youlose when you think you're going to win and you have to learn how to deal withthat. So I think that does help learning how to deal with things thatdon't go your way. Um, so I think um after you know, losing my leg, I was atwalter reed Army medical center and looking around walter reed, I saw somany other soldiers that were so much worse off than I was. They lost twolimbs, three limbs. They lost their eyesight. And it really put things inperspective. And I looked at myself and I thought holy cow, like all I lost wasone leg. I mean, I'm, I'm so lucky, so kind of making a decision then to livemy life for, you know, those who had given the ultimate sacrifice to not letlosing a leg stop me from doing the things I wanted to do. Um, so that thatmindset started pretty early on and it was really just perspective. I meanlooking around and seeing how lucky I was. Were you able when you're atwalter 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 youas well that have had similar accidents? It's, I mean, it sounds strange, butunless you're in the situation, you get it. There's a lot of humor. It's almostlike you have to use humor to make the situation okay if that makes sense. Alot of humor. A lot of support as well. I mean when I got there, I would, youknow, there was someone who maybe had had a similar injury a month priorthere up with their prosthetic leg and they are walking here, I am just lostmy leg and they do everything they can do to make me to help me talk methrough the process to tell me what's going to happen and how I'm going toget through it. Um, but then, I mean you joke, I mean we joke about thethings that we can't do. The things that we can do. Like if there's someonenext 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 worstinjury 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 justthe support. I mean walter reed, the...

...camaraderie between the soldiers, thenurses, a therapist. I mean, that is what got me through and they are, Ican't say enough good things about just the great people that were there on myteam and just wanted me to get better. Right? That is amazing. You know, youtalk about humor. I've been married almost 26 years from my wife and nowand you know, um gets us through a lot of things and that that we laugh and wecry and we support each other. But you are the one thing that gets our familythrough a lot of different adventures, I should say. But so then you'rehealing up, you're coming back now. What? You know, you go and now you'regoing to be a paralympian. Tell us about that next transition becausethat's a big transition for you that a lot of people, you know, don't get tomake. I think you were the first veteran ever to do that. Yeah. Yes. Umyou know, so I after I lost my leg, I I learned to walk again. I had I wasindependent with my prosthetic leg and I'll be in my hospital bed and just Iknew that I wouldn't really be myself again until I got back and do athleticsjust because I had been so athletic focus as a child and growing up andabout a few months after my injury there was this presentation there's athing on the wall and I was like come learn about the U. S. Paralympic gamesand I was like oh what's that? So I go to this presentation and they're likeif you train hard enough if you dedicate yourself to a sport you cancompete on the world's biggest athletic athletic stage for somebody with adisability. And I dreamed to go into the olympics is a gym missed. Thatdidn't happen but it's kind of like I had a second chance so I walked out ofthat room and that somehow some way I was I was going to be a paralympian sokind of jumped in headfirst literally um into into the swimming pool, I lovethe water, it made me feel whole and I decided that I was gonna try and makethe 2008 Beijing paralympic team in the sport of swimming um and you know, Iwas medically retired from the Army, purple heart, bronze star, but makingthat jumped from the military into that back into athletics, it's the selfconfidence that gave me the self worth. I mean I cannot say enough enough aboutthe role sports has played in my life, not just as a younger athlete, butafter losing a leg, just kind of showing me how much ability is in mydisability, I can still be in the pool, I can still run, I can bike, I can doall these things, I just have to believe that I can do it. So um sportschanged my life, I mean very early on and I mean this many years latercompeting 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, Imean it's it's kind of everything to me. Yeah, no, I I love it. And one thing Ididn't ask you and I really want to ask you is that I was on your twitter and Iwas I was following was, as my kids say, creeping, don't create dad, but I knewI was interviewing you. So I wanted to look, it seems like you're very closewith your parents and tell me about...

...those calls that you had to make withyour parents and how supportive they've been through your whole career becausewe know when we're kids and I have kids that are older now, you traveleverywhere with them, you you live their life with them as they're goingthrough that. So tell me about your parents and this whole process thatthat you've just explained to us and how they dealt with it as well. I meanI can't imagine getting a phone call. So again, not a military family and youknow they they were unsure of the military and then I fell in love withit. So they fell in love with it because I was passionate about it. Butthen April 13, 2004, I mean getting a phone call from me that their youngestdaughter has just been severely wounded in the war and I as a parent now, Imean 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 myside they were we reassured each other. Some days I needed reassurance. Somedays they needed reassurance and then you know, realizing together that lifewas going to go on, I was going to be okay. And then you know, standing by myside through this at the beginning seemed like this instrumental goalwanting to become a paralympian. But never they've never, throughout myentire life, I've never told me, I don't know you shouldn't do thatbecause 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 andthey continue to be I mean on the stands in Beijing on the on the on therace course in in Rio in 2016. I mean you know, hearing my parents, you knowgo melissa. I mean that drives me just knowing how much they've been throughall the hours my parents spent, you know, to and from the gymnastics gymand the sacrifices that they made. And I think you think about your parentsand what they've done for you and you only help that you can turn around anddo that for your own kids right now. That makes them, makes it reallyspecial. And then you know that what a great lesson that you know, now withyou having Children now. Um you know, you're trying, I'm sure you're doingthe same thing. So how are you now that you've done so much in your life? Umyou've experienced being in the olympics, you experienced now runningtriathlons. How are you taking that and and showing your kids that how tosupport a team, how to be on a team. Are they playing sports now as well? Sothey're yeah, they're two and 53 and five. She just turned three. So my myson um he plays soccer and T ball, he just broke his arm falling off themonkey bars last week. So little break going into the winter. But I think Iwill be uh I don't I hope that my kids like sports, I hope they find a passionand that they go that direction with sports. I think my husband and I areathletic, we want our kids to, you know, find that, but if they don't that'sokay. 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 to lose.And I will be adamant that my sport my kids do play one at least are involvedin some sort of sports as they grow up, just because I believe how much it canteach Children. Um but because there's, you know, they know that I'm a littlebit different, I only have one leg, they know that I swim bike and run alot, you know, they asked me why I say because I want to become the best inthe world and I have to, you know, train hard to do that and you know thismorning they woke up and I'm on my bike doing a bike work out in the garage andthey come out and they say go mommy, go, go faster, mommy, like they at least Ithink 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 andrun 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 theyknow that they've seen it. I don't know if they fully comprehend what it meansyet, but I love being a mom that looks a little bit different, but showingthem firsthand that you can still get out there and and dream big. Yeah, Imean we were the same way when our kids were little, we just said, Hey, we'regoing to try everything. We taught them how to swim the first, you know, assoon as we can get him in the pool and then after that we just said, ok, we'regoing to try every sport and uh, you know, my daughter hated to run, so shebecame a goalie and you don't know those things until unless they tryeverything right? She was a goalie in lacrosse and field hockey, but goodluck with your kids on that, because I know it's not easy. Uh so you're you'vegone through all these things, triathlon, try being a triathlete issuper 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'snot 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 shewants to do that, like all at the same time on the same day, but it's amazinghow addicting it is. And you get out there, you swim like you run, you crossthat finish line and you're like, holy cow, like I did it, and I'm atriathlete and the camaraderie on the race course, and but I mean, it's noteasy, I mean, you can, I feel like a lot of people who say they can't do atriathlon, you can do a triathlon as long as you can swim, you're not gonnawin the thing, but you can get out there and swim bike and run, and whocares if you're one of the last ones across the finish line, but you can doit, but if you're competing at a high level and an elite level, um yeah, it'sum it's hard. I mean, you swim as fast as you can, you get out, you go to thebike, you bike as fast as you can on the run. I mean, you have to dig deepfor the endurance, for the stamina, for the strength to get to that finish lineas 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 there on that run,I think about why I'm out there and I mean an author because I can be, I havethree limbs. I want to prove to myself I can do it. I want to prove to othersthat just because I'm losing a leg doesn't mean I'm sitting in a room, youknow, with my lights off, but I can still be an athlete, I can still getout there and get to that finish line and you know, hopefully the hard workthe 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 ofthings were cancelled through Covid, I'm sure this year has been a littletough for you. Just training. I don't know if you've been able to compete it true. We had actually raised one of myraised very early on, in february in Australia and then everything else wascanceled. 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 torace. It was still happening and we found it and it was just great to beback out on a racecourse. 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 guest Melissa Stockwell. So before we go here melissa, can you please tellus about your charity? I think it's dare to try and how all of our fans canreach you or how some people that maybe have a business want you to come outand speak. So please give us that information so that we can share itwith all of our people, all of our listeners. Yeah, look too. So I do. SoI 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 oftriathlon. So providing adaptive equipment, coaching and really justshowing you adults, injured service members, just how much abilities intheir disability and that they can still become triathletes. So thewebsite there is dare to the number two t ri dot org. And um, we always takethere's volunteers, there's programming, a lot of opportunities, um, if you'reinterested. And then personally, so, you know, social media is m stockwell01 Um, if you'd like to follow along with, you know my journey to Tokyo 2021you'll see some pretty cute kids along the way. Um And then my website, justmelissa stockwell dot com does have, you know, contact have that goes on myagent that I work with and I do speak all over for various companiesorganizations, um sharing my story um in hopes that others are inspired by aand if you want to take it one step further, I did just write a book iscalled The Power of Choice and it's actually out, it's out on amazon amazonBarnes and noble. It came out in february, but it kind of talks about mystory, the obstacles overcoming up and just how we all have the power tochoose 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 becausewhen I played for the Minnesota Vikings, we had a gentleman come in and speak tous and his line was choices, decisions, consequences, right? We all have achoice to make. And you know, those decisions lead to consequences. And andif you, even if you make the wrong choice, you can go back and redo it andhave better consequences. But what you've done for us, thank you forserving our country. Um, everything that you've done, uh, we we can'tappreciate you more. Please keep telling your story. Please keep helpingall those other veterans out there. I know you've worked on the woundedwarrior project as well. Um, and thank you for all of your service and joiningus 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 whereveryou listen to your favorite podcast, join us at the new 16 31 digital newsstudio here. Uh, but we appreciate you listening. We appreciate MelissaStockwell. Congratulations on all your accomplishments and good luck in thefuture as well. We're gonna follow you all the way to Tokyo. So everyone havea great day. Thank you again Melissa for joining us in studio. Thank you forjoining David. I in the huddle. We hope you enjoyed our podcast. If you'd liketo hear more podcast, just like this, go to huddle up with gusts dot comwhere you can find our social channels. Subscribe to hear more by ourmerchandise and join our exclusive huddle through Patreon. Please join usnext week when we talk to more guests about how sports shaped their life.

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