I still have a hard time grasping the idea that I'm going to compete in the Pan American Games next week.
When I started skating, I knew of the Keystone Speed League. It was where I went to race once a month against really fast kids my age. Dominic Camaioni, Dante Tuscai, Nathan Barry, Chris Semus, Andrew Shatzer. Those were the ones in the beginning when I was young, the one's I always thought, man I'm going to be that fast one day. The ones that were winning heat 1 while I was stuck battling for 4th's in heat 3. (Our league had a system where you earned points every meet and the top 6 in total points for the season were heat 1, then 7-12 heat 2, etc.) Then three years went by and I learned of Regional Championships and shortly after that Indoor National Championships at this point I was just eight years old. I saw even faster skaters. I saw Brent Phillips, Kimani Griffin, JR Celski, Eddy Alvarez, Adam Wullum and I couldn't believe how fast they could move.
Over this time period my goals advanced from simple wishes like wanting to advance to heat 2 in the league. Then to heat 1. Then to being able to keep up for the whole race. After that I wanted to win a race in JO then I wanted to skate regionals and qualify. After that I wanted to get top 5 in the league in standard. Then I wanted to win a race. After that I couldn't wait to make it to my semi's at nationals. Then it was making it to a final. Then it was winning regionals. After that it was placing top 4 in a JO race at nationals. Then I wanted to win the league overall. After that I wanted to make both finals at nationals (only two finals in JO). Then I wanted a medal. Once I got a medal it was time for an individual medal.
Around the same time I first heard of a world team. I practiced outdoor, occasionally, I raced outdoor.. and always lost. Rarely keeping up for more then a mile. But I didn't know anything about a world team. I remember sitting at practice, it was a tough practice, we were getting ready for nationals and were doing lots of races, 300m, 500m, 1000m what seemed back to back almost. Then Jeff was on the phone and it was awesome because he stopped paying attention for a minute to talk and we got a little extra rest. When he got off the phone he told us Steve made another world team. Talking about no other then Steve Carter. I knew Steve because he skated on the same team as I did. He was older and when he came to practice he went way, way, faster then everyone else. That's what I remember Steve as. I remember watching everything he did at practice, at a race. At races, when I was sitting in the reading area with my skates on and all the little kids pick someone to win a race I always picked Steve no matter if it was 500m or 5000m. And I remember thinking, wow, Steve made the world team again what is a world team, you must be the best in order to do that. Then it was back to practice. Steve was the guy when I was getting down on myself at a race my parents went and asked to come talk to me to cheer me up.
After I medaled at nationals it was time to try Outdoor Nationals. When I went to Outdoor Nationals it was all or nothing, my last year of the Freshman division so I wanted to win. That was the goal. That year I saw some great skaters, Darren Kauffman, Chris Creveling, Jordan Malone, Joey Mantia, I couldn't believe what they could do. I saw Darren's 10k points race on track and how he just kind of walked away from the pack and skated half the race.. a points race at that.. half a lap ahead of the field. That's when I learned of the World Team and at that moment I knew that was what I wanted to do. I figured that a lot of people make the team their last year but I wanted to make it my last two years of junior so I would have a greater accomplishment. But I was so young, so the goal was to gain experience in my first junior world class year. That year went so bad the goal the next year was to not embarrass myself. Then it was to make the team, after that it was to break another record at trials. Then it was to medal at worlds individually. (The year after I got my relay medal). My first year on the team was a Pan American year. I knew that year I wanted to make the Pan American team. I knew of all the great skaters who never made one so I figured if I did make one then I would have to be really good. Then I realized how special it would be to make the jump from junior to senior and make the senior team my first year, after all no one in the US had done it for four years.
I don't exactly know the point of this blog but it seems so surreal. I still have a hard time grasping exactly how I've gotten where I am in skating.