We share the love of sport. We share the love of winning or striving to win and of being considered the best. We share the hours of repeated practice—the training that’s required to build muscle memory and reach excellence. Prior to competing, we share the nerves so raw they feel as if they’ve broken through our bodies to the outside in their fight for more oxygen. We share life in a bubble to do what we do.
I understand the full spectrum of athleticism, inside and out. My life has been devoted to being an athlete, whether I’m training and competing at the world-class level, enjoying a recreational activity, or working with others as their sports psychologist or coach. In my younger years, I was a swimmer and springboard diver. In college, I competed on both nordic and alpine ski teams and played single and doubles tennis starting on the varsity team. Post-college, living on my own in California, I discovered a deep love of cycling, even though my twin sister and I rode hundreds of miles starting at age 14 when our dad bought us identical Peugeot ten-speeds. I fortuitously found myself in a relationship with Joe Breeze, the man who created the first modern mountain bike. Together, we rode both road and mountain bikes, we founded NORBA—National Off Road Bicycling Association—a movement that introduced the mountain bike to the world, and raced at all of the NORBA-sanctioned mountain bike races. Carefully, we outlined essential rules for mountain biking to create guidance and harmony sharing trails with hikers, runners, equestrians, and others. At the time, we had no idea that our efforts would catapult one of the world’s most loved sports into existence and manifest what is today a multi-billion dollar global industry.
Through mountain bike racing, I met my husband and together we raised our daughters within the world of sport—mountain biking, road cycling, nordic and alpine skiing, snow-shoeing, hiking, tennis, swimming, kayaking, and more. At age 42, I immersed myself into XTERRA off-road triathlons, while nurturing my kids’ growing passion for ski racing. Over the next 20 years I treasured being involved in my daughters’ athletic pursuits, while expanding my own legacy of training, traveling, and racing around the world. Simultaneously, my career as a sports psychologist, public speaker, and author blossomed.
In late 2010, while at the top of my game, something shocking happened. As I was packing my bags for the XTERRA European Championships in Switzerland, I climbed high into my closet to get a gift for the race director and slipped, falling hard and fracturing both of my heels. Suddenly, a wildly active lifestyle and my competitive athletic world felt beyond reach. But as it turned out, I needed this moment—the universe had other ideas for me.
With my physical recovery came personal reflection. I began to ask difficult questions about my goodness, worth, and impact on the world. Did such focused intensity as an athlete help those around me or just help me?
I felt the person I was known to be—a devoted mother, champion of sport, mentor, and inspiration to others—had fallen short. I now saw myself as someone who was too singularly focused, living in a self-absorbed and self-indulgent bubble. I was embarrassed and ashamed because I knew better. My heels were broken and now my heart.
This self-reflection led me to an important realization: that I can be a champion in sport endlessly preparing for challenges in swim-bike-run, while also caring about challenges facing humanity and the environment. It was the first time the concept of whole champion came to me. It came to me in a crystal clear way, that “whole” is what is missing in the cache of “champion.”
For me, competing in sport will always be an adrenaline rush, and it’s actually empowering to stand on a podium and receive a medal. I love winning, but I now deeply value the winning principles of caring about others and using my talents, drive, and dedication to make a positive difference for humanity and our damaged environment. I whispered to my family one night at dinner from my wheelchair, “Hey guys, I want to be a whole champion.”
Armed with new understanding and desire to make a difference in the world, I founded the Whole Champion Foundation in 2016. I felt it was time to care not only about myself, but also about the greater whole. And get other athletes, other role models, and key influencers on board!
I expanded my winning race mantra of “Yes I can” to something more expansive and meaningful: “Yes I can…inspire people to value their own and others’ well-being, to live by kindness and inclusiveness, and to take a stand for equality, justice, and the environment.”
I redefined whole and champion and connected the two words to become a new global understanding, a concept that everyone can have an impact. I define “whole” as a conscious mindset where there is little separation between personal, social, and environmental responsibility. “Champion” is every individual who steps up and takes action towards a meaningful cause. Regardless of age, gender, or background, we each have the power to make a difference, to champion positive change one person, one cause, one day at a time.
As athletes, we aspire to specific goals through dedication, practice, and commitment to excellence. We have great respect for our bodies. We work endlessly on our physical, mental, and spiritual strengths. But as athletes today, there is much more to consider. It’s one thing to be a person who earns titles, trophies, and steps up to the podium and another thing to be someone who steps up to help the greater whole.This book is for the best role model I know—you. Now is the time to integrate your personal care with purpose beyond yourself.
You, your family, coaches, friends, and whole community will benefit when you intentionally and consciously leverage your athletic aspirations to include care of challenges near and far. As a strong and inspiring athlete, you possess an ideal platform to influence change for a better world. This book delves into ways to do that.
Table of Contents for A Whole Athlete Makes the Whole World Better: Making Your Voice and Actions as Strong as Your Body
- Dear Athlete
- Personal Responsibility: Caring for Your Physical, Mental, and Emotional Well-Being
- Global Responsibility: Little Separation Between Personal, Social, and Environmental Responsibility
- Social Responsibility: Caring for the Well-Being of Others and Humanity at Large
- Environmental Responsibility: Caring for the Environment
- How to be a Champion of Sport and a Champion of Positive Change for a Better World
This book will be able for purchase in January 2023. Check our social media or this website for ordering information.