In 2017 I was approached by a bobsled pilot who had followed my Track and Field pursuits and she offered me the opportunity to try the sport as her "brakeman." I would be responsible for an explosive push start, a smooth entry into the sled, and bringing the 750 pounds to a stop at the bottom of the track. Despite taking a hard hit my first day, I knew this sport was better suited to my strengths and could provide me a real shot at achieving my Olympic goals.
This summer I was invited to two recruitment and development camps in Calgary for the National Bobsleigh Team and the positive feedback from coaches and athletes, combined with my growing passion for the sport, led me to the decision to commit fully.
This September I gave up my job, took a break from school, and moved from my home and family in British Columbia to relocate to Calgary, home of Calgary Olympic Park and the National Team. I'm giving it everything I have.
Being a high level athlete is a huge time commitment and to perform at your very best you have to devote every waking hour to your sport. Training, recovering, physiotherapy, fueling your body, resting, visualizing, and traveling to races are big commitments, but you make it work how ever you can. Being a full time athlete also comes with many financial expenses and because I have not yet made the National Team, or received their financial support, I have to find other ways to help cover my training expenses. These costs largely consist of on and off ice training, sprint coaches, weight lifting coaches, pushing and sliding coaches, physiotherapy, gym memberships, required gear and equipment, Alberta Bobsleigh Association membership, and travel and accommodation costs for competitions. These are above and beyond everyday living costs, which makes it difficult to devote all my time to training.
I worked two jobs in the off season and I will continue to work part time to try and offset some of the costs I will encounter, but I'd need to work a job full time to cover all my expenses, which would prevent me from being able to grow and excel in my sport.
My objective is to become a nationally carded athlete in the next twelve months, and the financial support which comes along with that would would take care of some of my costs. My goal, however, is to become a brakeman for the Canadian National Bobsleigh Team, representing our country in competitions around the world and ultimately in the Winter Olympics.
Thank you for taking the time to hear a little about my story and thank you for your support and contributions! It means the world to me. I'd very much appreciate you sharing this with anyone else who may be able to help.
Mackenzie Stewart, Brakeman.
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