It has been an incredible first season of the Hope Sports Podcast with 27 elite and Olympic athletes sharing about their journeys, challenges, failures, and triumphs. Laura Wilkinson has interviewed athletes both in and out of her sport, a task that proved challenging with sports that differ so drastically – like NASCAR. “We always eventually get to their story,” she said. Some stories brought laughter – like David Colturi attempting to hide a split suit at his first cliff diving competition. But others were incredibly raw and tear-filled – like Katie Ulhaender losing her father or Frank Shamrock’s story of abuse. But what tied each conversation together is the common thread of overcoming. Each athlete had something to overcome, to rise above. Whether physical, relational, emotional, or spiritual, the struggles have been real and heartbreaking. But with the support of friends and family or a nagging, relentless sense of hope, all of these athletes have overcome. Success hasn’t always looked like winning gold medals or getting to the top, though. In fact, the greatest victory for most athletes is the opposite – discovering deeply that it’s not, in fact, about the victory. It’s about the journey. “It’s about how far we’ve come, how much we’ve changed,” says Laura.
It’s this profound realization that leads athletes to use their platform for good, for more than just winning. Season One had amazing guests like Dana Vollmer who is empowering female athletes who are mothers through the Power of Mom, or Sarah Wells who is inspiring the next generation of Canadian kids to dream big through the Believe Initiative, or Ryan Hall’s Steps Foundation. Their stories are trickling down to up-and-comers like swimmer Michael Andrews who, at age 19, is already pursuing a purpose-based career.
This season was also particularly special for Laura as she began recording interviews while in a neck brace after fusion surgery. Hunkered down in her closet (in the pursuit of a quiet space), Laura listened to stories of athletes overcoming incredible challenges, all while she herself was living in the tension between an immobilized neck and Olympic dreams. Hearing their stories fed her own sense of purpose, hope, and commitment to her recovery. Back at training, she carries the wisdom from other athletes with her, as well as their support and friendships.
Season Two will launch this fall – chock full of more stories from athletes that are deeper than the headlines and the latest wins, but that are rich with perseverance, meaning, and wisdom. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it!
Sorry, no transcript is available for this episode.