My name’s Savannah Graybill and I’m an athlete on the United States skeleton team. As the new season (and Olympic Games!) rapidly approach, I need some help to get me there. It’s rally time!
I’m trying to raise $5,000 by Halloween to help offset the training and traveling expenses I’ll soon encounter when we start sliding in October. My ultimate goal is to represent the United States in the Winter Olympic Games!
My story starts in Denver, Pennsylvania where I spent my childhood with my partner-in-crime--my twin brother Donald-- climbing haystacks and generally running amok. We were inseparable, high-energy kids who luckily for our parents, loved to exert this energy outdoors, mostly through sports- real or made-up. Our younger brother, Ben, also took an interest in athletics, so our parents signed the three of us up for rec leagues as soon as they were offered (though I think it was mainly for their sanity!) and ever since then, we’ve been hooked on sports.
I graduated from Cocalico High School and in 2006 and that fall, continued on to American University on a field hockey scholarship. Under the guidance of our incredible coach Steve Jennings, I became part of a culture focused on family and determination. It was during this time that I learned to set my goals high, and learned just how far you can push yourself, even when you think you’ve got nothing left. During my time at AU, we spent every week ranked within the top 25 of the NCAA and won the Patriot League title every year. I finished as a four-year starter for the Lady Eagles, a two-time captain, concluded my career ranked 8th in career points and in May 2010, graduated magna cum laude with a degree in broadcast journalism.
MY JOURNEY TO SKELETON
During the spring semester of my senior year, my strength and conditioning coach Jason Riddell received an email from Elana Meyers, a bronze medal bobsled brakeman from the Vancouver game. She was helping recruit more bobsledders at the time and Jason encouraged me to try-out. Not one to turn down such an incredible opportunity, I spent the summer training under Jason’s guidance.
I traveled to Lake Placid in the fall of 2010 ready to complete my combine test to see if I had the stuff to become a bobsledder. The harsh reality? I wasn’t quite strong enough. Or big enough. However, several skeleton coaches were in attendance at this combine and they encouraged me to make the switch to skeleton. I was a better fit for the sport and I didn’t need to be able to lift a house in order to be good.
Skeleton is a fast, winter sliding sport in which a single athlete lies on a sled on their stomach and slides head-first down the same track used by Bobsled and Luge athletes. We hit up to 85 miles per hour and experience up to 5G’s of pressure as we slide down the approximately one-mile long track.
One run down the track and I was sold. I’d always been an adrenaline junkie, and careening down an icy chute head first at 70+ miles an hour gives me that rush each and every day. I am so fortunate to be able to represent the United States doing something that I love, and to be able to chase my ultimate dream: to compete in the Winter Olympic Games.
During the first full year in the sport, I made the National Team and was afforded the opportunity to travel and compete internationally against an incredibly high level of talent. I have maintained this position ever since and continue to progress and learn as I battle my way to the top of the ranks.
SO WHY DO I NEED YOUR HELP?
Well, because I can’t do this on my own. Despite working a full-time job (after a full day of training) it’s hard to earn enough money to pay the bills, pay student loans AND afford to compete and train. Working also takes a toll on our bodies after spending hours training and wreaks havoc on our recovery time. However, as an amateur athlete, I am financially responsible for the expenses I accrue while I travel, train and compete. In six months time I must collect the funds necessary to subsist for a year. It’s a daunting task.
So I sacrifice. I stockpile every paycheck into my bank account. I’m frugal in my spending. Sometimes on tour that means eating oatmeal and PB&J’s for weeks on end--which is no way to fuel your body for competition!-- so that I can afford to pay for extra runs down a track in order to have enough practice to feel ready for a race. To give you a better understanding, here are some of the items that my hard-earned money goes toward:
- Sled ($3,000- $10,000)
- Runners (approx. $650 a set, at minimum need 2 sets)
- Helmet ($300)
- Brush Spikes ($250, need 2 pairs)
- Speedsuit ($100- $500 per suit)
- Airfare to Europe (approx. $1200)
- Baggage Fees (approx. $500-$1500 for the season)
I am so very fortunate to have the love and support of my family, friends, American University Field Hockey alum and Four Seasons Produce, Inc. They motivate me to train tenaciously, compete ferociously and chase after all of my dreams. Without their help, I would not have come as far as I have. It is with their encouragement that I am able continue to strive and achieve my goals.
PLEASE JOIN MY TEAM!
Can’t donate financially? No worries! Any notes of encouragement, prayers or positive thoughts are always accepted. Donating miles for airlines are also an amazing way to help me keep my costs managable!
You can also help by simply spreading the word! Social media is such a huge fixture in our culture these days that your tweet, status update or email could land upon the eyes of someone who is in the position to help financially!
Also, you can follow my travels at: pushfromthetop.wordpress.com
Cheers! And GO USA!