Thursday, January 26, 2012

Gals We Admire: Kaillie Humphries

Professional athlete Kaillie Humphries believes bobsleigh was her destiny, but it's her determination, perseverance, stubborn headedness, and will to succeed that has allowed her to reach her full potential.

Name: Kaillie Humphries
Profession: Olympic Athlete - Women's Bobsleigh
Twitter handle: @Bobsledkaillie

Describe your typical work day, from start to finish
In the summer my typical day starts with a breakfast of green plus, vitamins and minerals, and green tea. Depending on where in the year will depend on my breakfast and what I do or do not eat. Diets and healthy eating are important as an athlete. I take my dog for a walk in the morning and then I head to the gym/track for 10am. I train for about 4-5 hours, again depending on the day will determine the length of the workout, and at around 1pm or 2pm I will eat my first major meal (possible protein shake around noon on big training days). At around 3pm I will then head to either chiro, physio, or massage (sometimes a combo) for an hour or two to get treatment, and then eat another meal around 4pm, after which I will head home. Once at home I take my dog for a run (which is me on a longboard because I did my running earlier in the day), and make dinner. I chill out after dinner and rest until about 10pm when I head for bed.

In between the training, treatment, and food, I fit in emails and time with family and friends. I also fit in appearances / speeches for my sponsors and I figure out equipment / teams stuff for the coming year.

In the winter (competition season) my days are very busy. I will get up and depending on when our sliding sessions (or races) are in the day and week, will depend on the schedule for the day. I will be at the bobsleigh track for about five or six hours, the gym for about two hours, treatment for one hour, video with my pilot coach for one hour, prepping equipment for the next day for one to two hours, and in between fit in three to four meals. My winter days are very busy and I don't get much time for anything else. Winter days are from October until March.

The month of March is completely off and I do nothing physical in hopes of allowing my body to recover. From April to September is the summer days, which accounts for my whole year. I have to look at days in week blocks, weeks in months and months in years, as my schedule is on a four year cycle (around the Olympics) and everything falls into place.

When you were a kid, what did you want to grow up to be?
An Olympic Gold Medalist. My dream started when I was 7-years-old watching a family friend Mark Tewksbury win his Olympic gold in the 1992 Summer Olympics (Barcelona). I was so moved by everything that surrounded the day that I knew when I grew up I wanted to be an Olympic Gold Medalist as well.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy the fact that I get to do something I love. I am fortunate that what I love to do (sports) has been turned into my profession, and that I am able to work towards my goals and dreams every day. The healthy active lifestyle is a positive and getting to compete at the highest level of amateur sport is a privilege. The people in bobsleigh (from all over the world, as we are not a very big community) are amazing and allow me to be grow in so many ways. I think the people in my sport are my favorite thing about bobsleigh. Don't get me wrong, I love the sliding and competing, the thrill of racing is like nothing else, but the people are what make the experience whole. I am a big people person, I love meeting new people and forming relationships. Bobsleigh has allowed me to do that all around the world.

What do you find to be the biggest challenge in your profession?
One of the biggest challenges I face in my profession is money. I think that every amateur athlete (regardless of the sport) faces this problem and it's not an easy subject. Being able to train and mentally prepare to face the top athletes in the wold takes time, energy and effort. Having to also worry about where the money is going to come from for food, rent, top equipment, coaching/team fees, it's all stuff that takes away from focusing on being the best we can be.

Equipment is very expensive in my sport and as a bobsleigh pilot I am responsible for supplying my team with whatever I can afford. Not only do I have to find money for the essentials, I now have to supply my team with whatever top equipment I can find and get. Having to say no to the best equipment in the world, because I need to pay my mortgage is a tough call. A tough situation that many Canadian athletes face everyday.

The challenge is remedied mostly through sponsorship, but also speaking opportunities or any job that an athlete can do, with training still being the number one focus of the day. Since winning in Vancouver I have been fortunate to have two major companies come on board and partner with me to help buy my equipment. This way I can focus on my job of being the top bobsleigh pilot in the world.

Do you believe you had a "calling" for your profession?
Yes. I believe that everything happens for a reason and that I was meant to be in my sport. I also believe that although I was meant to be in my sport, and that things happen for a reason, I still have to make the best of every opportunity that is given to me. I think that my dream / goal started me off at the age of 7, but it was my determination, perseverance, stubborn headedness, and will to succeed that allowed me to reach my full potential. I believe bobsleigh was my destiny, but i know it was all my hard work that allowed me to achieve my goal.

What are the three most important pieces of career advice you would give to other Canadian Career Gals?
Believe in your abilities - never let anyone else tell you what is or is not possible.

Reach for the stars - set goals and aim high. You miss 100% of the opportunities you don't take.

Never give up - life throws curve balls, and nothing is ever easy, but it's how we rise up from the crap that determines what kind of person we are and how great we can really be.


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