Note: This episode does contain discussion of abuse.
While having great athletic skills is key to being an Olympian, mindset also plays a major part in being able to compete with the best of the best. In this episode, we talk with Olympian Erin Aldrich-Shean about the journey she’s taken from elite athlete to becoming a coach and consultant to help others attain an Olympic mindset.
Erin graduated from The University of Texas at Austin, where she was an elite college athlete in two sports, athletics and volleyball. She competed in four IAAF World Championships and at the Sydney 2000 Olympics as a high jumper and then went on to be a member of the US National Volleyball team from 2001-2004 and 2007. She played five years of pro volleyball in Italy and Japan, before a career-ending injury dashed her dreams of making the Olympics as a volleyball player.
We talked with Erin about her athletic career–part of which involves an abusive relationship with a coach–her time at the Olympics, and how she now helps people achieve their goals.
In our Seoul 1988 history moment, Alison looks at the men’s volleyball competition, with some upsets on the podium. Check out the gold medal match (oh, hi, Karch Kiraly):
And the bronze medal match, which has some familial connections that Alison digs:
In our weekly visit to TKFLASTAN, we hear from:
- Paddler Luuka Jones
- Para archer (and drag racer) Matt Stutzman
- Race walker Evan Dunfee
- Artistic swimmer Jacqueline Simoneau
- Ski historian Tom Kelly
- Speed skater Erin Jackson
- Commentator Olly Hogben
- Luger Shiva Keshavan
In Paris 2024 news:
- On Location has released new hospitality packages for athletics and sailing
- The French Sports Ministry says non to the hijab on the playing field.
- If you had “move the homeless” on your Olympics bingo card, cross off a space
- Tough luck for film and TV shoots
- Paris 2024 is hiring — 16,000 jobs are up for grabs (some may even take place during The Magical Hour of Vacuuming). Apply here!
And there’s some surprisingly good legacy news from Athens 2004!
Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!
Photo courtesy of Erin Aldrich-Shean.
Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript and may contain errors. Please check its accuracy against the audio. Do not quote from the transcript; use the audio as the record of note. For this episode, it is particularly inaccurate in terms of speaker labels. Please use caution!
The Olympics Mindset with Erin Aldrich-Shean (Episode 306)
Jill: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast for fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. If you love the games, we are the show for you. Each week we share stories from athletes and people behind the scenes to help you have more fun watching the games. I am your host, Jill Jaris, joined as always by my lovely co host, Alison Brown.
Alison, hello, how are you? I
[00:00:49] Jill: am in spreadsheet heckity heck right now. I have been working on the Paris guide and our planning sheets and doing all kinds of spreadsheets and I think listener Brittany needs to come over and explain to me why she loves spreadsheets. She made that beautiful spreadsheet in our Facebook group for all the qualifiers and all the events and you haven’t seen it, please.
You gotta go check it out. And. Man, Brittany, I need you right
[00:01:20] Alison: now. This is hard. I understand your love of spreadsheets,
but we’ll power through. We’ll get there. We’ll get there.
This is when the athletes talk about, you know, you got to show up every day and do the work. This is it. This is what’s going to get us to Paris, is me
powering through the spreadsheets. Right. And maybe you need somebody to help you get to the next level.
Erin Aldrich-Shean Interview
[00:01:45] Jill: Like today’s guest. We’re talking with Erin Aldrich-Shean, an Olympian who competed at the Sydney 2000 Olympics in high jump, where she finished 26th.
And we’ll tell you. I know when you go 26, [00:02:00] huh, when you hear the contributing factors to this, it’ll shock you. She was also an elite volleyball player in college and at the pro level and had hoped to go back to the Olympics for volleyball until a knee injury sidelined her career. Erin is now a life coach and consultant who helps people get to the next level in 2024.
If we talk with Erin about the mental aspect of sport, her Olympic experience and a trigger warning, we do discuss an abusive relationship with the coach. Take a listen.
Erin, thank you so much for joining us. You were an elite athlete in two very different sports volleyball and high jump. How did you balance it? How did you get into two sports and how did you maintain that, especially at the college level?
[00:02:47] Erin Aldrich-Shean: Well, thank you for having me.
It’s. Super exciting to be here. And, as I mentioned, I love your logo. looks like a shadow version of my high jumping, so it’s super exciting. Yes, I did compete in two sports at a high level volleyball and track and field. I considered them very complimentary. And I’ll, I’ll tell you the reason why, because I was a middle blocker and as a middle blocker.
If there’s anyone listening to this that’s a, a volleyball player, if you know about middles, you know that they go behind the setter in what’s called a slide and that slide. Play in the volleyball on the volleyball court is very, very similar to the approach of a high jump. So it’s those last two or three steps in the high jump where you convert speed to takeoff.
And I used to just love running the slide, so I was that volleyball player that just ran slide after slide after slide behind the setter because I was super comfortable with that technique. And that was my claim to aim on the volleyball court, I would say, because it was so similar to the high jump.
And so I think that that is why I was so successful in that [00:04:00] level for two sports and what allowed me to go to the national team on the volleyball court as well. But yeah, in college it was easier because they were opposite seasons. So, in the fall I was a volleyball player and I oftentimes jumped my highest high jump marks right off of my volleyball season.
And if you can think about why that is, it’s because I got all of those repetitions as a, slide runner on the volleyball court that right off of my volleyball season, I was jumping my highest marks on the high, in the high jump. I jumped six, five and a half right off of my volleyball season. so part of me was like, I need to replicate running the slide during my vault, my track season so that I can continue that trend.
But it’s just so hard to get that many reps in when you’re trying to get that many reps in when it just doesn’t come. It’s not like a natural part of the game. I considered them both really complimentary to each other and I think that’s why I was able to be successful in both.
[00:05:07] Alison: Was it helpful that one was a team sport and one is an individual sport?
[00:05:13] Erin Aldrich-Shean: Yes. I started out with very much of an individual sport mindset just as a person and how I grew up. I think I was just very, very competitive and. Always wanting to win, at all costs. Of course, I didn’t wanna hurt anyone’s feelings too much or do anything illegal, of course but I really just was so competitive and, when I won I wanted to win by myself.
And so that is why I actually made it a goal to make an Olympic team on the track first, because I wanted it to be like all mine. it sounds crazy to say that, but I wanted it to be something that [00:06:00] I accomplished. Of course with my coach, but that I accomplished by myself. Whereas a team sport, I would always feel like, yes, I helped them accomplish that, but it wasn’t like fully mine, so I made the initial. Goal is to make, you know, my, my first Olympic team in an individual sport. And then after that I would go play, hopefully with u s a volleyball and try to make an Olympic with the team. But it, it’s funny because later on in my career, I came to love the team sports so much.
I just, I realized the value of those connections and I absolutely adored my teammates in my later years of my professional career when I was playing overseas in Italy and in Japan. And that became so important to me that I almost just ended my career loving the team aspect of sports even more than the individual.
So it’s funny how those kind of, evolved over time.
[00:07:04] Alison: Did you have issues with managing injuries with the two different sports? Were they similar muscles, different muscles so that you got to rest in certain things?
[00:07:14] Erin Aldrich-Shean: Great question. I think that yes, they were similar enough, but they were also different enough, if that makes sense, to stay healthy. I felt like I was really diverse in my training enough so that I wasn’t pounding the same, part of my body every single time for too long.
And I feel like that’s the beauty of a multi-sport athlete. And I know that for so long prior to going into college, you have all of these coaches that are like, you must. Focus on one, you must really focus on that one and go, as hard as you can in that one [00:08:00] sport.
And I almost think that that’s the opposite way that it should be. Particularly in younger kids. And I could talk about this all day ’cause I have two little ones of my own. And then the whole topic of crazy parenting for kids in sports that is just nuts and I’m experiencing it firsthand. But yes, I think that mixing it up, training different parts of your body is absolutely 100% the best way to go.
Because I was very injury free for the most part my entire career. I was, I felt very lucky about that. And I really didn’t experience anything major until ironically, like a week after I turned 30. And I thought, oh gosh, this is, thank you, thank you for that. Is this my birthday gift? Am I now officially old at 30 as an athlete?
But I really do think that I was just physically exhausted and it was that time of the month for me as a woman. And we all know that, that’s a, time of the month that can be where you can be less strong in that sense and your body can break down a little bit more.
And yeah, if I just came down on a slide, of course, a slide Matchpoint 1718 in the fifth set against, a team in Japan. I was playing in the Japanese V League at the time, professionally, and it was like overtime of overtime. And they sent me, the last ball of the match came down knee buckled, medial lateral meniscus, and a c l all in one shot.
And it was the Olympic year, so it was right before Beijing. I was gonna make, I was gonna try for my last Olympic team on the track, I was gonna high jump but they gave me this offer to play volleyball in Japan in the Japanese League, which was a great offer. And I couldn’t pass that up financially because that’s how I made a living, was [00:10:00] off of my volleyball career, not my track career.
And so I took it to sustain myself financially through the track training afterwards. And I had never been injured before really? So I thought, why not? And then I got injured on Matchpoint 17, 18, fifth set, the Olympic year, and I had to get my knee completely reconstructed. I missed Beijing. And then I went back to business school.
Because what else would you do, but go back and have further your education while you’re injured?
[00:10:29] Jill: Did you find having the volleyball season made you better prepared for track? Was it also the reverse that you were better conditioned going into the volleyball season?
[00:10:38] Erin Aldrich-Shean: Yes, I believe so. I got so much really technical and heavy lifting and plying in my track season. My track season was far more technical, right? So I’m in the gym really focusing on form and technique and squatting and cleaning and jerking and, all the power lifts. And so I feel like that.
Technical aspect of training really helped me on the volleyball court as well. It just helped me to always know, don’t let your knee go over your toe when you’re squatting and proper form and everything, if you’re gonna train one side of your body, train the other side of your body. So I think that background as a track athlete just really helped me understand proper form and training on the volleyball side as well.
So they just really, I feel, complimented each other and it just helped so much that they were in opposite seasons so that there wasn’t any kind of an overlap, because I think that’s the issue when you come into like a volleyball, basketball, dual sport. Whereas mine were just really separate seasons.
[00:11:52] Alison: So we’re gonna get to the back end of your career, but going back to the other end of your career, when did you [00:12:00] realize the Olympics was a possibility for you?
[00:12:02] Erin Aldrich-Shean: The story I always tell was that I was six years old when I told my parents that I was gonna be an Olympian one day. It was 1984. So you can back into the age, unfortunately.
I always hesitate, should I tell the day? But it’s kind of an important part of the story. So I was six years old. It was 1984. We were watching the opening ceremonies of the Los Angeles Olympics on television in our motor home. My parents had bought a motor home when I was little. Because they wanted my brother and I to see all 50 states by the time we were in high school.
So we used to take these big motor home trips each summer and my dad would block off, a chunk of his calendar. He was in commercial real estate brokerage, and we would just travel to, we saw every single national monument possible. We did it all. So we’re in the motor home, we’re watching the opening ceremonies of the Los Angeles Olympics, and I was just blown away.
I thought I have to do that. And so I turned to my parents and I said, I’m gonna be an Olympian someday. And my parents were like, oh, that’s, Great honey. It’s great to have goals and dreams and you could not, you know, you could just feel it in the air that they weren’t really taking me seriously.
They were, neither one of them were like real athletes. So they really didn’t know how to raise that. And so they were like, it’s good to have whole goals and dreams, honey. And I, I said, no, I don’t think you really understand. I’m gonna do that. And it was really at that moment that I thought, I don’t know what sport it’s gonna be.
I don’t know anything about what it’s gonna be. I just know I’m gonna be there someday. And so I set my sights on making an Olympic team at that time. And it was [00:14:00] only through, junior high and, elementary school sports that I started to get an idea of like, where. My talents lied because I loved every sport.
I started out in gymnastics, which, obviously I wasn’t gonna be a gymnast. I’m six one, you can’t see me, but I’m six one. And so that was not a, an option. But I do believe that that really helped with like body awareness. And there are certain things with gymnastics that are just amazing for kiddos, which is why I actually have my own kids who are gonna be six seven in gymnastics right now.
They’re super young, but they love gymnastics and they’re flipping and all kinds of stuff right now, but they’re gonna be very, very tall. So then I went into ballet and I think that taught me some patience ’cause I was not the most patient child. it was also very obviously obvious that I was competitive because I wasn’t a super big fan of, ballet.
But, I knew that if I stuck with it for five years, I got a trophy, a little plastic trophy. So I made my parents pay for five years of ballet so that I could get a plastic trophy that I have no idea where it is at this moment. And then I went into tennis and played tennis really competitively. I was recruited for tennis in college, but I didn’t go to college playing tennis.
It was just probably my third sport of the three. And I played soccer competitively. Very, very good team for club soccer, played basketball, played softball. I played them all and I loved them all, but it wasn’t until junior high when we went through that progression of, volleyball, then basketball, then track and field that.
I went through all three of the sports and they were like, you’re tall. Go to the high jump pit. It was such a natural movement for me. It was [00:16:00] like I was born to high jump. I jumped five seven my seventh grade year, which is crazy when you think about it. And then five eight, my eighth grade year five, I think five 10 or 5 11, 10 maybe.
My ninth grade year, five 11 tenths, six feet 11th, and then six, two and three quarters my senior year. So it just progressed so well and it just felt like such a natural movement for me. In fact, I would, in my house, I would start from one end. We had a really long one story house and my bedroom was on one end and the game room was on the other end.
And so I would start from one end and I would, every time I wanted to go from one end to the other to go to my bedroom, I would run from one end touching all the door jambs. Off of one foot and hurdling all the ottomans on the way back to the other end of the house. And so it was always that one foot takeoff, it just came so natural to me.
[00:17:04] Jill: Did you think that 2000 was gonna be the Olympics you got to go to?
[00:17:08] Erin Aldrich-Shean: Yes. I hoped that 2000 would be the Olympic Olympics that I could go to. I, I went to my first Olympic trials in 96, my senior year in high school in Atlanta. And the Olympic trials were on the Olympic track. So I actually have a little piece of the Atlanta Olympic track in our media room But I finished fifth, I think in my height in that, I don’t know off of Mrs. If I was fifth, but I know that I’m pretty sure I jumped six, two and a quarter or six, two and three quarters at the Olympic trials in Atlanta, which was the fifth best in height and only three go. So I felt like I was close enough to be able to like, okay it’s go.
Everything’s going down in 2000. Like I’m going to that Olympic games, like I will not go [00:18:00] another four years and not make that Olympic team. And of course, like it went fairly smoothly through those four years, but we all have like little hitches in there and my hitch came probably in 99, which is not great timing, right before 2000, but.
Was able to pull myself out of that Rutt and follow through with it in 2000 at the US Olympic Trials in Sacramento. And that was my first Olympic team. We had a we both jumped six, four and a quarter, I believe, but I lost off of attempts. I had one extra attempt, I think, at either that height or the earlier, an earlier height that put me in second place, but top three go and I absolutely had the, a standard.
I remember that day of flying over the bar like it was yesterday. It’s just such a moment that’s cemented in my head of, you kind of know that it’s. Happening in the high jump when you make that, when you plant for takeoff. ’cause everything just feels so smooth and effortless.
And I just remember planning for takeoff and being like, holy cow, this is it. Like I have since I was six, I’ve, this is finally culminating into this one moment and it was such an amazing moment.
[00:19:18] Jill: So in tying to what you do now as coach, how did you get through that hitch?
[00:19:24] Erin Aldrich-Shean: As a coach, I talk a lot about having, um, your support system there and your, what I call your personal board of directors, your P o D. And I really think that having that support system was instrumental.
For me at that time because my coach and I were having issues. I was kind of miserable. I was going through a period where I couldn’t even jump five 10, it was obviously a mental thing because, you know, I had jumped six, five and a half. It wasn’t [00:20:00] physical. Um, I knew that I was perfectly healthy, but for some reason I could har I couldn’t even really get over a five 10 bar.
And that was unacceptable. But it was just an issue I think that my, my coach and I were having, we were bickering and it just wasn’t a good relationship at the time. And I remember being at my, like on my last leg and just kind of the last straw. We were in Orlando, I believe for spring break. At the University of Texas, our coach used to take us on a spring break trip to kick off our outdoor season.
And, we would have fun and wherever we would go, maybe one year it would be Vegas, one year it would be Disney World. And we were at Disney World at the time and we always competed in a track meet. Obviously it wasn’t legal to take your team unless you’re gonna compete in a organized event.
So we competed in a track meet every time. And that year it was in Orlando by Disney World. I was not in a good space mentally, and we got there, we were, it was the day before we were gonna compete and I called my parents and I was just like, I. I don’t know. I can’t remember ever being that down and depressed almost in sport.
And my father recognized the despair and he said, Aaron, hold on. I’ll be there in a couple hours. And I mean, he’s in Dallas, right? So I’m like, how are you gonna hang here in a couple hours? But he packed a carry-on, like sped to the airport, D F W, jumped on the first American Airlines flight that he could find and was at, was in Orlando.
Showed up at the hotel, three hours later, four hours later. And I just reme remember the sense of relief of [00:22:00] seeing someone familiar that I knew loved me. And so my dad spent the rest of the day, the evening with me, and the next morning we had breakfast, and then I went and, and jumped. And I kid you not, I jumped a personal best outdoors that next day and jumped, I think it was six, four and three quarters on the outdoor.
And I think that that was that time that I got the Olympic standard. And it just was like, holy cow, like this is the value and the, the importance of a support system. Like we can’t do it alone. And that is a really good lesson to always make sure that there is someone in your court that can bail you out in whatever way that means, that looks like. You need to have someone that’s there to bail you out.
Whether it’s just an emotional bail or what. And that happened to be my father and I just am really lucky to have parents that I knew were gonna be there for me. so I always coach people to make sure you’ve got your personal board of directors, your support system set up and identified because you’re gonna need it.
[00:23:17] Jill: Today we talk about sports psychology and mental health a lot more. What was that like when you were competing? Did it exist?
[00:23:27] Erin Aldrich-Shean: I don’t think so. Well, yes. I mean, so sports psychology existed of course, but the relationship between coach and athletes, Was not talked about.
And a huge part of my story is recently coming out with the news of my coach from college. And it’s unfortunate because when I went through that this and I realized what had actually happened to me with my coach, and if you wanna read about it, you just google my name and university of [00:24:00] Texas or college coach or whatever, and you’ll find the story.
But when I realized what had happened, it was when I was watching Leaving Neverland, which is the Michael Jackson story. Where you hear the stories of the children that that he had had the relationships with and the grooming process and all that. And I, I realized that that was what happened to me.
I had always kept it a secret inside of me because I felt like he had just made a one-off mistake with me. And I had forgiven him for that and thought, it was just a one, one-time mistake. But when I watched that documentary, I realized that it wasn’t a one-time mistake. There had to be others out there.
And so I went out and I had a couple flashbacks from moments while I was in college, and I, I reached out to one of my teammates who was in one of my flashbacks, and she. I found her at a veterinarian clinic. She’s a veterinarian now, and I couldn’t find her personal number, so I had to call the vet and the vet was like, well, let me hold on and go get her.
And I said, no, no, no, no, no. You don’t need to go get her out of surgery. just tell her that I called and she hadn’t heard from me for over 20 years, so I’m sure she was completely shocked. But she got on the phone and she said, this is about our coach, isn’t it? And I said, yes, but just call me back later.
And she’s like, no, no, no, no. Everyone in this facility knows my story. Just tell me what you’re calling me about. And so I shared with her kind of this epiphany that I had had. And she told me her story and she had reported him back over 20 years ago, but it wasn’t. A thing, you don’t talk about those kinds of things.
So it was really swept under the rug and she was told that it, might be best that she [00:26:00] just transfer and we’re gonna wipe the slate clean and he’s gonna go to a different school and we’re not gonna talk about it anymore. And that’s what happened. And so I always have looked at her with a tremendous amount of respect because I thought how brave for her to have come out when it was happening, when the abuse was happening.
There was no way I was in that mental state to have disclosed something at that time because there was too much for me. I felt like there was too much for me to lose. And I was trying to make an Olympic team and I didn’t need a bad reputation and all of these things, so I just stuffed it and put it in the back of my.
Mind for over 20 years until after I had had kids and was watching that doc documentary and thought, holy cow, like this is more than, this is about more than just me. Right? Like, I can not say anything and be okay. But he’s coaching high school girls right now, and he had already been through several universities by this time.
I, I don’t know that I can feel good about myself for letting it continue to happen. And so that was when I made the decision to report my story to Safes Sport, which is what was enacted as a result of the Larry Nassar cases with u s A gymnastics. And I felt really fortunate to.
To now have a place to go because safes sport obviously didn’t exist back then. So there was no place to report. If you needed to report it, you report it to your own university, your own university re investigates themselves. They find themselves not guilty and everybody moves on to the next university.
And I just feel [00:28:00] so fortunate to have that we now have a place to report, although there’s, it’s not even a perfect system with safes sport. They are so completely overwhelmed. I don’t even know how many thousands of reports they have that they have to investigate and they must be in a situation where they have to prioritize.
We got lucky, I think, because my coach was coaching high school girls and I think they flagged that as like, okay, we gotta get on this one quickly. And they really. really accelerated the investigation on that. And if you go look in the database, of course he’s suspended or prob on probation or whatever it might be.
but he is no longer coaching. And, you know, I feel proud that I was able to, get up the courage to report ’cause he was a huge part of my life. And and hopefully help other girls that were being coached by him or that had been coached by him and didn’t have the voice to come out as well.
So I am, I’m glad that we now have a place to report and that we can talk about mental health a little bit more casually, not casually, what’s the right word? A little easier these days without feeling like there’s such a stigma. To it because it happens all too often and it’s really shocking the amount of cases that safes sport is having to dig through right now.
[00:29:30] Alison: How do you separate what happened to you and your love for the sport?
[00:29:37] Erin Aldrich-Shean: Yeah. And I, I really even, I even struggle with this, to be honest about, the university because I know that they made a mistake back then that affected two of my teammates in a pretty substantial way.
And so it’s very difficult because I have great memories from the time [00:30:00] that I was at the University of Texas as a Longhorn and you know, lots of national championships under my belt team and individual. Great memories on, the volleyball court. Nothing was happening with me and my coach at the time that I was at ut Mine all happened at Arizona.
So it’s difficult because, I’m, I’m disappointed in the way that it was handled back then, but I have a degree and memories that were pretty positive for me while I was at the University of Texas. So it’s hard to separate, but sometimes I feel like I have to just remember the good things that happened while I was there and, being dressed in a Longhorn uniform and being proud to compete for such a large, well-respected university.
But I am disappointed about that. And it’s, even hard now to look at sport in some way and, and the way that coaches approach young athletes and kind of how incestuous it is and, in that community. But I’m hoping that because of safes sport and because of more precautions that have to be taken now, and trainings that you have to do that it is going to put a little bit more of a dampener on those things because it’s an easy place to, find your victims.
I think if you’re a predator you’re like, well, this kid really wants to make an Olympic team. Like they’ll do anything, so what are their vulnerabilities? I’m gonna tap into those. And it’s, it’s really unfortunate. But I still love sport in fact. My son, who might not quite be the most athletically gifted kiddo, at least right now, I’m hoping he’s a late bloomer.
But he loves to play and he loves different sports. And [00:32:00] I want him to play because I know there are so many great skills that you can learn through sport, whether it’s teamwork, resilience, goal setting, how to maximize your potential. And so as long as he wants to play, I want him to play.
’cause I think there are so many great aspects that you can learn in, in sport. And I’m just a really cautious parent, I guess with the relationships that get formed between coaches and athletes and probably a little bit jaded in that respect, for obvious reasons.
[00:32:35] Jill: as a parent, what do you do when you’re trying to find a facility or program to get into?
[00:32:41] Erin Aldrich-Shean: so far it’s been pretty organized, with my kids of, they’re playing on their elementary school teams and, and one of the dads is coaching and, you’re not safe from it necessarily, but I do know that if he’s not alone one-on-one in a situation with a coach, because that’s where I got in trouble.
I was alone one-on-one. My, my first memory was, my first inappropriate moment memory was being on a plane my senior year. From Dallas to Australia to compete at the World Junior Championships. My call, my high school coach couldn’t go with me and my parents trusted, very much my eventual college coach.
He had been the development or the high performance development coach for U S A track and field for three years, I think, at this point. So we had access to all the best high jumpers in the country, juniors for a while now. So he had developed that relationship with me and with my parents, and that’s in the grooming process.
That’s oftentimes what happens is they develop a really close relationship, not just with the victim, but with the victim’s parents, their [00:34:00] family, their closest friends and all that. So he had developed a really good relationship with my parents. So my parents felt comfortable and thought, it was safe.
And so they sent me to Sydney for World Junior Championships with my coach, and we were on the plane together. And that was my first memory of inappropriate behavior. And I kind of have a hard time believing that was the first time, but I can’t remember the previous times or time. And so for me as a parent, it’s really important that I understand that you can’t be one-on-one with a young kid.
And that goes in, that goes to school too. The schooling environment. I’m still really sensitive to that as well. I am constantly having conversations with my kiddos on. Wherever your clothes are, that’s the area that you shouldn’t, that no adult should be touching you other than a doctor if your parent, if your mom or your daddy’s in the room but anywhere that your underwear is covering is yours, no one should be touching those areas.
And so they are, I hope, educated on that. But I’m telling you what, the grooming process is not easy because adults or older individuals who understand that process really well and how to do it if they’re a predator, will groom you so slowly and methodically to the point where, I know my mommy told me that my underwear is like someplace that people shouldn’t touch, but, I really like this person.
They’re telling me it’s okay. It’s not like an immediate violation of privacy. It’s such a slow, methodical process that no matter how much I teach my kids, I still worry about it. ’cause I, I knew right and [00:36:00] wrong even when it happened to me. And I, thought he loved me and I thought that it was a real relationship.
So I, I thought that all the things I had learned didn’t matter, you know? Yeah. And that’s what’s scary.
[00:36:15] Jill: And you’re in high school and you want a boyfriend or girlfriend. Yeah. And there you go. That you got this older guy. Yep. Sounds
[00:36:24] Erin Aldrich-Shean: perfect. Right? Perfect. Right. And he’s so powerful and really well respected in the track community, and.
I had never kissed a boy. I was so giddy over, and I’m in high school. I’m so giddy over the opposite sex. And like you know, this powerful older man is saying on phone conversations that that senior picture of mine is super sexy. He likes that line that’s on the side of my leg when I cross my legs.
Like, I’m like, woo, oh my God. I, I’m really interested in these other boys that are my age, but this older man is like coming onto me, you know? And so I just fell, I fell into it. And bottom line is your coach should never, particularly one who is married and twice your age should never be your first experience sexually.
That’s in a, that’s completely wrong. I don’t care what people say. There is a complete imbalance of power there. I had probably the emotional intelligence of a 13 year old because I was so naive and just cared about making an Olympic team and had never had any boyfriend before. So he knew exactly what he was doing.
You pick on the pieces that you see are vulnerabilities.
It’s such a crazy thing and that’s why I hate the statue of limitations because people don’t they come out in their own [00:38:00] time, right?
Mm-hmm. It’s the statute, the, the period of time that exists within the statute of limitations is not always the right timing for people, nor do they even really realize what’s going on. So for me we had filed a lawsuit against the NCAA so that they would put , proper policy in place, which we feel doesn’t exist.
And we lost and we lost on the statute of limitations. And I, it makes me cringe every time because I’m like, well, number one, my teammate did come forward during that period of time, but she, I guess she didn’t come forward to the right authorities ’cause it didn’t really count. And I didn’t come forward until I saw leaving Neverland.
’cause for some reason, I convinced myself that he just made a mistake with me and it wasn’t really his fault, kind of is how I had framed it in my mind. But then when I saw leaving Neverland, I thought, oh my gosh. Like this is an actual thing. Grooming is a thing. If it happened to me, it very likely happened to multiple people.
And so we tried to argue that my statute didn’t start until I realized really what had happened. So they tried to argue that, but like only some states agree with that way of looking at it. And the state of Indiana does not believe that and they’re, it’s a very pro ncaa mm-hmm. State, if you can imagine, Jill is from Indiana, so she knows it well.
Okay. Well we originally filed in California ’cause we thought we had a better chance. And then the judge in California was, Amazing. And he was like, I wish we could do this here. But since the NCAA is, and the reason we did that is ’cause my coach was living in California at the time, and I was living in California when we initially filed the lawsuit.
so he said, you know, [00:40:00] you’re gonna have to transfer it over to Indiana. And the moment that that happened, our attorneys called us and they were like, yeah, we’re in a way uphill battle right now if you can only imagine. And we were like, okay, well it was a valiant effort and um, at least they have another notch against them.
And I don’t regret doing it. It was a lot of work and a lot of trauma to have to like go through it all. But I. I think if it’s just one step closer to the next person and the next person and the next person that go after them, that eventually they’re gonna have to get their stuff together and, run it the right way if we even really need an ncaa.
I don’t know.
[00:40:48] Jill: So I have a question on, because Allison and I have very strong opinions on well a lot of things, but about, about things like World Junior Championships and do we need kids having to compete in world level events at young ages? What are your thoughts on that? I mean, because then you can go, well, you know, there’s high school exchange programs and that seems to be okay.
Seems to be okay, but we’re not in the high school exchange program podcast game,
[00:41:21] Erin Aldrich-Shean: you know, and in many
[00:41:22] Alison: ways your road to Sydney starts when you’re in high school and a very young girl. And you’re competing at trials as a senior in high school. you were in that system of mm-hmm. Of very young teenagers.
Yeah. Working to make that team. But that was the impetus in many ways for you to make the team in 2000. Yeah.
[00:41:45] Erin Aldrich-Shean: It’s a good question and it’s a good topic. I think, I was somewhat unique as an athlete in that I wanted anything difficult thrown at me. I was like, give it to me. And I think that’s another reason [00:42:00] why I was able to get through everything that happened to me and still succeed.
And I, but I don’t think that that’s the norm. I think that’s the exception. And so I think the norm is not quite so resilient in that way. And I think that that kind of pressure and that kind of like you must perform, you, you have to do this to accomplish is not always healthy. You know, it’s like the performance curve if you think about it.
Like some people, it takes a lot more to stimulate them and some people take very little, and I think I was on that like extreme version of like, I could take a lot, I could take a lot of beat down from training, I could take. A lot of stuff. And so I was still able to succeed and I don’t know that that’s the case for the normal athlete.
I don’t know that that’s the case for the standard athlete. So I’m not really sure I know the answer to that question, although I do totally off subject have an issue with coaches and parents who think that their kid needs to play one select sport and only one select sport at the age of five. Like that’s an extreme example, but let your kid do what they wanna do and.
I think it should probably involve multiple sports or else they have no idea what else is out there and they’re probably gonna burn themselves out. I think I was lucky that I had parents that didn’t know anything about sport really. And they were kinda like, okay, well whatever you wanna do.
we’re here to support you financially, but the rest is up to you. And I was just super self-disciplined and self-motivated. And that’s probably also what got me in trouble, ’cause I was also very willing to like, do whatever I was asked [00:44:00] to do. And that was a vulnerability of mine, which I think my coach caught onto.
Like, she really, really wants this. Like, let’s see how far I can take her. But yeah, I had a colleague reach out to me the other day and she said, Erin what would you charge to coach an 11 year old? Soccer goalie. She’s having, her parents are saying she’s having a really hard time with performance.
And my first instinct was I don’t know that I’m the right person for that, because I thought about my 11 year old self and thought, I don’t even know that I really knew what performance coaching was. I just was out there to play a sport, you know? And if she’s running into mental difficulties in a sport at 11, there might be other issues there that we would need to tackle that are deeper than, um, performance as a 11 year old athlete.
it kind of freaked me out a little bit. so I have a little bit more of an issue with this. Unrealistic and crazy drive that parents have to like just pound in the sports and being successful and at such a young age, if it’s driven a hundred percent by the kid, let ’em do what they wanna do.
I guess that’s kind of how I was, and we as
[00:45:26] Alison: fans can feed that or not feed that with the whole glorification of, oh, she’s 14 and she made the Olympic team 100%.
[00:45:36] Erin Aldrich-Shean: Yeah. It’s, and it, this could go all the way through to like the n I L conversation and all that. I mean, it’s gotten really.
Strange since I was in college, I guess is the best word. I could think about it off the top of my head, but it’s like where? Where is just the love of the game anymore? Like it’s now you have to like do [00:46:00] selfies while you’re playing and be all and put makeup on and look cute and I just don’t know how some of these athletes can be really focusing on what they’re there, they’re supposed to be there to do.
Are they getting scholarships because they’re good looking now or because they can play the sport well. And then the whole transfer portal, I have to admit that I’m not the most expert on, on the transfer portal, but the first thing that comes to my mind is that I remember when I was going through the college recruiting process and thinking I really have to make the right decision because once I make that decision, I’m there for four years.
Transferring is not an option. At least that’s how I thought when I was in going into college. Little did I know I would be in, I would end up transferring because the coach that recruited me there on the volleyball court left and then my. Coach that recruited me there on the track, got the assistant coaching job at Texas, and I really wanted to make an Olympic team, and that’s who I went there for.
So I ended up transferring it, but it was a whole process. Like I had to negotiate with the University of Arizona, like, am I gonna lose a year of eligibility? And it was very complex. It wasn’t like, I’m gonna put my name in a transfer portal and if anybody comes and offers me a, scholarship at a better university, I’m gonna jump ship.
I’m not sure that it teaches athletes the right thing about commitment and, making sure that you are taking everything into account when you make decisions in life. I, I don’t know that there should be like a parachute for every decision in life to just, catch you when you fall.
this wasn’t quite the right decision, so I’m just gonna like pick up and leave and go to the next one. Transfer again if I don’t like it, Again, I’m not an expert on it, but that my first instinct when hearing about the transfer portal was like, wow, it’s really that easy to leave now.
And [00:48:00] it seems like the rich will get richer and,
[00:48:02] Jill: you mentioned self-discipline and self-motivation and commitment. Do you find that Olympians or slash high level athletes are better at those things?
[00:48:15] Erin Aldrich-Shean: That’s an interesting question because I don’t know that I can say they’re better. I think that. Comparing, apples to apples with each athlete, if they make it to that next level and they’re just as talented, but they make it to the next level. Mm-hmm. It’s probably a difference of discipline, drive, dedication to what it is they’re doing because there are a lot of talented athletes out there that don’t make it.
Now there are also a lot of people that are very disciplined and driven and dedicated, but they don’t have the athletic ability. but yes, in order for an athlete to make it to the Olympic level, I haven’t really known any athlete who is not driven and disciplined and.
Also possesses a talent athletically. I think it takes a combination of all of those. I think I had the drive and the discipline and the dedication almost more than the athletic ability. I mean, I, I do think I was very talented athletically, like I could do every sport, but I look at some of my peers and they were just as athletic or more athletic than I was.
But I think I could have beat them on the dedication and the discipline side. And I think that leveled me out to where maybe I, I even beat them at the Olympics. Because I think a lot of what happens on the athletic field happens between your ears as they say. And at that level, it’s almost like, yes, the athletic piece is really important, but.
The [00:50:00] mental piece is incredibly important ’cause everyone is really talented athletically at that level, but it’s really hard to handle that pressure and so can you handle the pressure of being there. And I think some of my teammates are competitors were even better mentally than I was. I hate to have to admit that.
But I remember going to some really big meets and there were moments where I crumbled, and it’s hard to admit because I wanna think that I was like the strongest mentally. I would almost prefer to be the strongest mentally than physically. But I just remember competing against some high jumpers and volleyball players that were just incredibly good in their mind.
And then obviously talented physically as well. What does handling the pressure mean in realistic terms? We hear that a lot. How do you handle the pressure, but what are you actually doing in your brain when that’s happening? I think it’s different for different athletes. Like I mentioned, the performance curve, um, earlier in conversation.
I think that you have to figure out where you are on that curve and what it, what the secret sauce is to getting there and, and putting yourself in that situation multiple times so that you can get that experience of playing around with it. I remember for example, back when I competed , like, actually I had a walkie-talkie.
That’s how old I was, it wasn’t like an MP three or whatever it was. It was, um, Walkie talkie that I would like have to like, even with a tape in it, that’s when, that’s high school. But anyway I would have Chicago and Journey and like Celine Dion, like that’s how, that was my music. And then the next person over would have Tupac and, Eminem and like these other, and so that just goes to show you like the difference [00:52:00] in what I was trying to accomplish and what they were trying to accomplish.
They were like, this meet isn’t enough to get me to that excitement level, like, I need more. And they would get more through their music I don’t know if you’ve heard about the stories of Michael Jordan, but Michael Jordan used to pick fights with. People so that he could get fired up because he just, it just wasn’t enough to be himself, so he used to pick fights to get into that place. I could get fired up like pretty easily. So on competition day, right before I was about to jump, I needed to settle myself down. So it’s really like finding where you are in that performance curve and what secret sauce it is.
Like, how much of this do you need? How much of this do you need? I also needed consistency, I think, and I think that was ended up being one of my downsides. and uh, you know, I don’t wanna like, of course blame anything ’cause, but this is the way that I was raised. I was raised as an athlete that consistency is what you need to perform.
And so every time you go to a meet, It needs to be the same warmup, it needs to be the same routine. I needed to, take a shower at this amount of time before I go to the track, and then I needed to have my white bow in my hair, you know, and it’s just, it was very, very, very structured. And that worked for me when the structure worked, like when everything was set up to where I could have my routine, but the moment you threw me off of my routine and there wasn’t hot water, it was only cold water, or I forgot my bow, or couldn’t find my walkie-talkie or whatever it might be.
I was kind of a mess if I think about it. And so part of me looking back on that experience, wishes [00:54:00] that I would’ve thrown in a few wrenches into the plan a few times, let’s see if you can perform without all that stuff. See if you can perform when you accidentally show up 30 minutes before competition time.
What are you gonna do? I don’t think I realized that when I was competing. ’cause it’s never, there are gonna be times when it doesn’t go the way that you think it’s gonna go and something falls through or something is different. And that could be at the Olympic Games, right?
So what are you gonna do? You don’t want that to happen at the Olympic games. And then you’ve, taught yourself to not be able to make change. When I coach now, when people are going into public speaking events or they’re going to present or pitch their idea or whatever.
What happens when you don’t have av? Like you thought you were gonna have a full setup and you don’t, you better be prepared for the unpredictable. And I don’t think I did a good enough job with that as an athlete.
[00:54:59] Jill: is some of the stumbling blocks. Comparing themselves to other people around them is like stumbling blocks to success.
[00:55:08] Erin Aldrich-Shean: Yes, absolutely. I, I think that you have to take other people out of the equation as much as possible. It’s, it’s very, very difficult, right?
’cause even in sport, it’s like first place, second place, third place. Like, oh, I lost, Obviously third place or second place. But I think really your goals should be set against yourself and being push, pushing you beyond what your comfort zone is. It’s, it makes really no sense to, compare yourself to David Goggins and try to go out there and run an ultra marathon when you’ve never trained for a marathon.
Right. So the way that I, I. Coach on goal setting is, and, obviously I like the smart method and making sure that it’s specific and measurable and all the things. But I also just like to make sure that[00:56:00] it’s realistic and that’s, obviously that’s the r and the part that I think people miss.
In fact I’m sure my father will listen to this podcast and I’m gonna say something that he’s might, he might not like, but he used to always be like it would be like something impossible. He’d be like, well, why don’t you think that you can do that? Like, you can do anything, but I think it’s important for us to not say, next week I’m gonna run an ULT Ultra marathon and I’m gonna break the world record if there are things that are kind of unrealistic, right?
So we need to make it just realistic enough. Where it pushes you beyond your comfort level and beyond something that you have done before. And then I like to back into the different steps.
I was raised setting goals and on the tennis court, my first memories of have setting goals were with my tennis coach, Jack Newman.
He is the c e O of Austin Tennis Academy and was the head coach, I think at St. Stevens in Austin for a long time. And just excellent tennis coach and really focused a lot on the mind mindset. And we would sit us down once a month or so and we would set, we would write our goals down on paper and we would write our long-term, medium term and short-term goals.
And then we would constantly be reevaluating. So I’ve taken kind of like what I used to do on the tennis court or as a tennis player and modified it a bit. I like to look at, a year out, or even if you have two years out, like what you wanna do, break it down into smaller pieces and then make sure that each of those steps are measurable and they’re just beyond your comfort zone.
Obviously they’re gonna be times when you get injured, something’s gonna happen that’s unpredictable and you have to reset and redo that timeline. But there should always be like a long-term goal, something that you’re shooting for. And [00:58:00] then, for example, if it’s a year out, you’re breaking it into four quarters and then you’re breaking it into a month and then a week.
And then you should have daily habits that you’re trying to stick with in order to make it to that next goal. And then reassessing after every big, quarter to make sure that you’re on track. I love coaching on goal setting and trying to teach people to push themselves beyond their comfort zone.
But what Sally’s doing next to you is really not, not your life. Focus on yourself and what will make you a better person and more fulfilled and happier, something that’ll help you feel accomplished like you’re doing well in this world. I think that’s where I’ve changed it as I’ve, my mindset has gone less towards how much money can I make, how successful can I be if success is defined by money.
All those things. I left that career behind because I. I realized that like we, we really need to be looking at what mark we’ve made on this world and how to help others make their mark and supporting others.
I’m overwhelmed, so
[00:59:21] Jill: don’t mind me. Okay, so that’s, no, that’s a good question because thank you for using that word, Allison, because what happens when people get overwhelmed or maybe even after the Olympics, they’re like, I have been on this, circus train for 10 years, 12 years, 18 years, and I’m getting off now, or my body is done and I have to get off, and now I’m overwhelmed with life and I don’t know what to do.
How do people deal and how do athletes deal with this feeling of overwhelmingness?
[00:59:53] Erin Aldrich-Shean: Well, that’s an, a really interesting topic. And to be totally transparent,[01:00:00] I don’t know that I prepared myself well enough for that. And I, I think it’s because we’re so in it on a day-to-day basis that we just forget about the preparation for when we’re not in it.
And so after the Olympics, I remember being completely burnt out at the Olympics. So it wasn’t even like it hit me afterwards. Mine hit me the moment I made the Olympic team, I kind of went to poop. I just fell apart, you know? And it was because I think I was in this , emotionally draining, Career and life and doing, both sports and all that for so long, I, I didn’t even realize I was burned out.
I thought I was fine and then I made the Olympic team and I completely fell apart because it wasn’t until then that I was like, oh my gosh. Like my whole family went to New Zealand after the Olympics because it’s so close to Sydney. And I was like, I gotta go home. I look back on that and I’m like, I really couldn’t have made it a few more days.
No, I remember that time being like, I am done. Like my body and my mind and my spirit and my emotion we’re all done. we’re very done and so I flew myself home and it took me, I kid you not a year come back from that. And that’s how emotionally draining it was. Now, I think there was probably a little bit of what we had talked about previously that I was dealing with subconsciously and just like the whole, like coming down from it all.
And also I had monitored my diet so carefully and counted every calorie for the last year or two prior to making the Olympic team because I was one of those ones that was like, leave no stone unturned. I will not [01:02:00] give my self any excuse for not making this Olympic team. So whatever I can control, I’m gonna control.
you hear about people with eating disorders, like they, that’s something that they’re controlling, right? What is being put in their mouth. And so I just was like, I was hungry, I was tired, I was all of the things. And so after I made the Olympic team, I fell apart. I didn’t really even make it to the Olympics in a healthy way, I think I gained like 10 or 15 pounds before I could.
I jumped in the high jump, which is definitely not the right event to pack on the pounds right before you jump, like if you can only imagine. So after the games, I just was like shot. And I, I think I, I wasn’t so concerned about it because I thought, if I don’t medal in this Olympics, I still have 2004, 2008, 2012.
I was so young when I made my first Olympic team that I thought I had several more and the. Moral to that story is carpe diem because you never know when the shot you have right now is your only shot. And I just assumed that it wasn’t gonna be the only shot that was a mistake. But looking back on it, I just don’t know that I was that in tune with things at the age of 21 or 22 that I would’ve known to make those adjustments.
’cause I thought I was doing everything the right way. But yeah, it, after you finish with the Olympics or any major event in life, you’re very overwhelmed. Your identity is very tied to sport and to people praising you and thinking that you walked on water because you’re an Olympic athlete and it’s really hard [01:04:00] to separate those two.
And understand who you are outside of sport. And I wish that I would have spent more time digging deeper inside of myself to understand who Aaron was outside of sport and outside of being a high jumper and a volleyball player. Like what really, what do I really love to do that doesn’t involve that? And how do I identify outside of sports?
Because I think that would’ve made the letdown of being, done with the Olympics and what does the rest of my life look like a lot easier. And so that is also one thing that I am trying to do in coaching. I’m about to launch a program for athletes who have intentions to play in college.
Better in high school. what does that transition from high school to college look like? How is it different from what you’ve experienced in high school? What are you going to be experiencing and how can you prepare yourself a little bit better for that next step as well as the step after that and be a little bit more proactive about it, rather than reactive.
It didn’t exist when I was in high school. I think my parents probably would’ve been like super excited about it. ’cause it would’ve been, Hey, we don’t know what this looks like so somebody else tell us what it looks like and help us prepare our daughter for that.
And that wasn’t a thing. So I’m hoping that it’s well received. I don’t know. It’s the first time I’ve ever. Coached this, and it’s gonna be a group, so it’ll be six athletes and I’m gonna cap it at six. but it’ll be like a group session on all the things that they need to know from now moving forward and how to prepare for them proactively rather than reactively.
[01:05:55] Alison: What’s your favorite memory from Sydney?
[01:05:58] Erin Aldrich-Shean: Is it okay? That [01:06:00] I don’t remember very much.
[01:06:02] Alison: No, that actually says something.
[01:06:04] Erin Aldrich-Shean: Yeah, it’s actually, I. Shocking to me. And the first thing that comes to my mind is, it’s embarrassing because you would think that for that big of a moment and that monumental of a time in my life where I’d been training and going for this since I was six years old, why can’t I remember more?
And I, I don’t know why, I don’t know why that is. I, I do know that we didn’t have social media at that time. I think I would remember a whole lot more if I was able to document it more. But we were technically supposed to not even allow, us to have our phones and, and videos in there. We weren’t allowed to take ’em into the opening ceremonies or into the stadium.
So it’s just so different these days. So part of me is like, ah, I wish I would’ve made an Olympic team when I had more access to. Social media and, and technology. But I only remember it from a very high level experience. I don’t remember very many details. Like if you said, what did the holding room look like prior to going on to the track?
I would say I don’t remember any of that. I remember things that I have physical pictures of, but if I didn’t have those physical pictures of, I wouldn’t remember any of it. So I, I wish I had a better answer to your question. I do remember walking into the opening ceremonies, and I remember walking my parents around the Olympic Village, I do remember, oh my gosh. So my roommate was Marla Runyon. So Marla Runyon was one of the only Paralympians who competed also in the Olympics. She was blind, visually impaired. she was my roommate and we had a little trailer on the side of the house.
’cause they had too many Olympians for like, actual rooms [01:08:00] in the houses. And it was like a little community that They sold the houses after we were done in the Olympic Village. And people had already bought them, I think, before we even lived in them during the Olympics.
But in order to satisfy like the numbers, they had to put little like trailers. Outside of the houses. And Marla and I took one of the trailer spots, so I remember that very well. And I actually just came across the bedspread from my bed , which was really cool actually to come across. We all had like twin beds and so they, we had this thing, it says Sydney 2000, and I took it with me home.
But I remember the McDonald’s on the campus and thinking why? Would they be feeding McDonald’s to the Olympic athletes? But it was very busy and they gave away a lot of burgers and fries. And I also remember there were like coffee and muffin stands set up everywhere.
I had the worst diet I’ve ever had while living in the Olympic Village. I ate like an entire bowl of macadamia nuts every day. I mean, this is the worst. Like, I had access to all this stuff and I was already like gone. just not good for habit formation, right? Like all the things I coach on now, I did a terrible job of it from the time I made the Olympic team to the time after the Olympics, I was a mess.
But it’s like those things that I remember the bus come, that we would grab to go to the Olympic stadium and so there, there are like little. High level details that I remember, but I don’t remember that much of the actual experience competing, which I’m really bummed about. I wish I could tap into that and feel it again, but I just can’t.
[01:09:52] Jill: But it’s interesting that you have the memory like that’s an experience and that’s not necessarily the, that’s[01:10:00] reality.
That’s what happens. And it’s not what people think happens.
[01:10:04] Erin Aldrich-Shean: That is interesting because I’m telling you the truth, and the way that it really is, I could easily answer that question. Oh, I remember walking out on the track and all the people cheering and, competing in front of this, massive stadium of people, and I could make that up for you if that would help, create this vision.
But the truth of it is, is that I think it was such a big moment and I was so burned out and kind of toast that I, I lost memory of it. And that’s the reality of it. And you wanna think that every Olympian that goes to the Olympics has these wonderful memories of such an amazing moment.
But it’s not like that for everyone. I hope that people that won a gold medal or some sort of a medal or had some amazing performance still have very vivid, detailed memories of that. I hope, I hope that for them, but it wasn’t as exactly my experience, so I just think, I don’t know, maybe my mind did my brain or like, okay, we can forget that one.
[01:11:15] Jill: it’s interesting, and I, I don’t mean to belabor this conversation but there are at least American athletes in sports that are highly competitive athletics, swimming, gymnastics where like making the Olympic team is sometimes harder than the Olympics that they say.
And you have to wonder like how many people do just burn out after trials and can’t necessarily perform the way they wanna perform or have the experience that they wanted, they thought they would have.
[01:11:46] Erin Aldrich-Shean: Yeah, that is such an excellent point because I think because I had had that dream for so long, and it was such an important thing for me to do it, there was a lot of [01:12:00] emphasis on my identity, my life, everything that hinged on that moment, you know?
And that made that moment so important. And it was almost like that was like, not a positive thing in some respects. And that’s also why I was really hoping that that that wouldn’t be my only opportunity. Because I think that had I made another Olympic team, my time with u s A volleyball, I realized I wasn’t gonna make the Olympic team right before they were gonna announce the team.
And so that’s when I left to go play professional volleyball in Italy. So I, I kind of narrowly missed that team after playing with them for four years. And then I ended up being alternate on the track that same year. ’cause I thought, well, I’ll just try this take, make a last ditch effort to make it on the track.
And I ended up being an alternate on the track. And then Beijing, I was, jumping better than I had ever jumped before. Super healthy, really great shape, playing the best volleyball of my life when I was living in Japan. All going great. And then I blow out my knee on Matchpoint. But had I made the Olympic team in 2004 and 2008 and maybe even 2012, had I not blown up my knee, I think.
It would’ve been so much more resilient at that moment of competing in the Olympic Games. ’cause I’d been there before. There’s something about it being your first time and all that pressure of having trained for 20 years to get there, and then the difference between it being your second or third or fourth time and it not being so monumental and so huge.
I think that’s the difference.
[01:13:46] Jill: When you were talking about everything hinging on this moment and that kind of pressure that you feel, do people, you coach also feel that same kind of pressure? Oh yeah. In different event, what kind of pressure does that then put on [01:14:00] themselves? Or how do they deal with the pressure and not putting so much pressure on yourself? ‘ cause the pressure is really coming from you to make this happen. Yeah. And you need some to achieve the goal, but not too much that you overwhelm yourself.
[01:14:14] Erin Aldrich-Shean: right. Again, it’s like that performance curve and, and knowing how hard you can push them and they can push themselves before it turns into a negative effect rather than a positive effect. I really strongly believe in coaching for this particular reason. And the crazy thing is, is that I.
Never had a life coach until a year and a half or two ago. And that experience with a life coach is what turned me into a life coach. And when I quit my corporate career to become one, because I thought, oh my gosh, like this whole time I, every athlete that tries to make an Olympic games, even if you’re not trying to make an Olympic games, but you’re an athlete, you have a coach, right?
Like athlete is synonymous with coach. Every athlete has a coach. No athlete that has been to the Olympics that I know, has ever gone to the Olympics went without ever being coached. That would be crazy, right? So it’s almost just as crazy in life if you’re trying to accomplish something exceptional.
Trying to do it without a coach is like an athlete trying to go to the Olympics without a coach. Like, we know we all need it and it there should be no stigma around it. And I, you know, the, the difference between coaching and therapy or like a psychologist or psychiatrist is that, coaching is like, where are you today and where do you wanna be in the future and what’s stopping you from getting there?
Or why are you not able to get there? what’s stopping you? How do [01:16:00] you get there? Whereas a psychologist or going to counseling or therapy is what happened in your past that’s brought you to where you are today? So it’s like two stages of life. I’m not really gonna dig into trauma.
That somebody has experienced per se. Not to say that that’s not important. And if if it’s a really deep issue, like I’m gonna send them to someone to really unpack that. But I do believe that people leave a lot of potential on the table because they don’t know how to get there.
but they do have the potential to get there. They just need some motivation and a coach , and someone to help them figure out how they utilize the tools that they have in their toolbox to get them where they want to go. And that’s what I love about coaching. I never had the desire to physically like coach on the athletic field. I don’t know why. I just never did. And then I found like this kind of coaching and I was like, I love this.
And so I ended up being a coach, but never how I had imagined being a coach. I really love like the mental side of life and finding what fulfills you and what makes you tick, what makes you want to accomplish great things and be happy doing it. ,
[01:17:32] Jill: it’s interesting because I struggle with a sense of we’re fans of the games. And I understand how fans can put pressure where’s that line of supporting put not putting pressure on people.
And we try really hard to be like, okay, have fun at your event. We don’t really care how you place, you just, we want you to have a good time and enjoy this. And we love the way that people push themselves to be the best they can be. [01:18:00] We wanna have the best conditions that we can have and then the whole world coming together and then you can see
[01:18:08] Erin Aldrich-Shean: the stuff.
Yeah. I love the idea of the games because it is the one time. Every four years that every country in the world comes together and cohabitates in one village. And there is, knock on wood, but no fighting. we all believe in this one dream. I love that about the Olympic games that we can all exist together without hopefully the politics coming into play and all that.
And, you know, of course it does, but for the core of it, especially being an athlete in the Olympic Village, it’s amazing to see all the different countries that are just, they’re just living in the same area. It’s a different feeling in the village as it is watching. TV and hearing about politics and all that, because you’re sheltered a little bit from that, I think in the village eating the same french fries.
Yeah. Eating the same McDonald’s french fries and hamburgers and macadamia nuts to the hilt. I think when it becomes about like, you idiot, why did you lose? That’s where it becomes not fun, the thing that you have to think about too when you’re raising children is, honey, I love watching you play.
I loved how hard I saw you try and the effort that you put out and focusing on those things, rather than, are you kidding? You missed that shot? Why did you lose? You didn’t stop that shot as long as there. Giving their full effort and trying their hardest. That’s what should be focused on.
It shouldn’t be like team u s a lost what a bunch of idiots. You know? I mean that’s I wish that stuff didn’t exist and we could focus more on, the beauty of the game.
[01:19:57] Jill: Thank you so much, Erin. You can find Erin [01:20:00] at ascensioncoaching. co on social. She is ascensioncoaching on Insta and Ascension coaching one, that’s the number one on both Facebook and Tik TOK. So we will have links to all of those in the show notes. Don’t forget a little reminder here.
We will be at the Olympian show on October 12th through 15th in, at the hotel MDR in Marina Del Rey, California. So please come and check us out there. We will have a table. We will have some pins. We will have some microphones.
I have to post. A picture of the drawing that I made for our graphic designer and then what he did with it because man, the pin came out so beautifully.
I don’t know how he interpreted my little pencil sketch. I did save it because it’s so funny
[01:20:50] Alison: to me. It does look good. Don’t forget. We do have a Kickstarter coming up it’s coming up pretty quickly to come up , in probably end of October. So be on the lookout for that. This will provide some much needed funding to help get us to Paris and be there for about two months as we cover the Olympics and Paralympics there for you.
And I also want to give a special shout out to our patrons. I want to say, if you listen to the last patron only show, we have an invoice.
Yay! I’ve never been so excited to see a bill in my whole life.
[01:21:25] Jill: Paying the invoice will be another update.
[01:21:27] Alison: Hence the Kickstarter coming.
Seoul 1988 History Moment
[01:21:31] Alison: Now is the time of the show where we check in with our history moment. All year long we are celebrating
the Seoul 1988 games as it is the 35th anniversary. of those Olympics and Paralympics. Allison, it is your turn for a story. What do you got for us?
[01:21:53] Jill: I got men’s volleyball. You did the great story about women’s volleyball and the Peru team. I’ve got men’s [01:22:00] volleyball where in 1988, the American team was the reigning Olympic champions from 1984.
The Soviet Union was the reigning world champions from 87. So to no one’s surprise, the two teams met in the final. And at that point during the games, the American team was not doing terribly well. Both the men’s basketball and water polo teams had lost in their tournament. So there was a lot of pressure on the volleyball team to sort of save face.
For Team USA and led by one of your favorites of all time, the legendary Karch Karai. The US team was undefeated in the group rounds and pulled out a victory against the Soviets in the final in four sets. Great match, but the real showstopper of the tournament was the bronze medal match. Oh, okay. Where Argentina met the heavily favored Brazilian men’s team.
[01:23:00] Alison: Ooh, that
[01:23:02] Jill: would be a good matchup. The match was over three hours long, five sets, and Argentina pulled off the upset. Whoa. It was the first Olympic medal for Argentina in volleyball. Don’t you love that? I love that. But there’s more. Okay. History repeated itself in 2021 in Tokyo when Argentina defeated the heavily favored Brazil for the bronze medal in a five set marathon match for the second Olympic medal for Argentina in volleyball.
This could be because of the Conte family. Hugo Conte led the team in 1988 as, and is considered the greatest player in Argentine volleyball history. And one of the greatest players. In all of volleyball, his son, Facundo Conti, anchored the [01:24:00] 2021 Argentine team. He had 21 points in the medal match and which led to the victory.
Hugo was in the stands in Tokyo as a commentator for Argentine television. There were no fans, but he got to see his son and he broke down in tears. at his son’s victory. So there’s lots of video of Hugo announcing this victory. So not just excited for Argentine volleyball, but a very personal victory as well.
[01:24:32] Alison: That’s a story that’s got everything you love underdogs family stuff. Oh my gosh,
[01:24:37] Jill: and then you’ve got the South American Passion at play there. So and then we’ve got a crying father so you can’t get better than this
[01:24:46] Jill: Welcome to
[01:24:53] Alison: Shook Flushton
[01:24:54] Jill: It is the time of the show where we check in with our team, Keep the Flame Alive. These are past guests and listeners who make up our citizenship of our very own country, Shukflistan. First up, we’ve got some results.
[01:25:07] Alison: Luca Jones placed ninth in the women’s singles but did not make it out of the heat for Kayak Cross.
She was pleased with her performance in the heat. Disappointed in her finals,
Para archer, Matt Stutzman has another career as a drag racer, and he will be racing at the builder’s brawl held at Ozark Raceway Park in Rogersville, Missouri on October 20 and 21.
And we have another holiday to add to the Shukla Stani calendar. September 23 was Matt Stutzman day in Iowa.
[01:25:40] Alison: Evan Dunphy was selected to represent Canada at the Pan American Games. He will be competing in the 20 kilometer race block, which will be contested on October 29th.
[01:25:51] Jill: Jacqueline Simoneau has announced her return to competitive artistic swimming.
She will be traveling with the senior national team of Canada again this fall. Oh my [01:26:00] gosh, that is so exciting.
[01:26:01] Alison: You obviously had not seen that I put that in the notes. Tom Kelly has received the U. S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame’s Ray Leverton Award in recognition of his years of volunteer
[01:26:15] Jill: Erin Jackson, we mentioned this a few months ago. She is on Fox’s Special Forces World’s Toughest Test. Episode one aired this week which I caught not a whole lot of Erin on this episode, but if you wanted to know whatever happened to Tara Reid, whoa, she features prominently. as a reality TV watcher, if they don’t focus on you right away, you’re probably sticking around a while.
if you’re a fan of Special Forces World’s Toughest Test, like I am the last season was in Jordan and they talked about the heat. Now they’re in extreme cold. So they are in the mountains of New Zealand to which I said, Oh, Erin’s got this because she was in Beijing.
Like it doesn’t get much colder than that on a regular basis.
[01:26:56] Alison: Ali Hogben will be commentating the WAG World Champs. He’ll be doing the English Language World Feed TV broadcast for all the finals.
[01:27:06] Erin Aldrich-Shean: And loser Shiva Keshavan is hanging out at the Asian Games and raising awareness for clean sport.
Paris 2024 News
[01:27:13] Erin Aldrich-Shean: Bonjour!
Bonjour! Uh, lots of news from Paris 2024.
We got new hospitality packages from OnLocation for sailing and athletics. You can be on a boat with professional commentary for sailing. That sounds very cool. You can be on the pier for sailing. Yes. And you can eat on top of the Eiffel Tower. There’s also lower levels and more affordable packages available that get you some really great seats at athletics that gets you on the finish line and close to the action.
So you can check that
out. Very cool. The French sports [01:28:00] ministry announced that the French team is banned from wearing the veil or hijab because they want to maintain, quote, A strict regime of secularism applied rigorously in the field of sport, as quoted in CNN. And the UN Human Rights Commission has pretty much slammed this decision.
So this is not that other teams are banned from wearing whatever head covering. This is only the French team. So I know when I first looked at this, I was a little concerned that they were banning other players from. Wearing traditional dress or traditional coverings while in France, but it’s only for the French
And it does sound like it’s on the field of play. So that could affect some of the French athletes because they do have a heavy Muslim population there. So it’s an interesting development in a traditional French view of. Secularism being maintained across the country.
We thought this was going to happen, and it’s happening. Some homeless people are getting moved.
CNN is reporting that around the Stalingrad metro station the French government is moving homeless people to other parts of the country. They’re saying it’s part of the plan to relieve pressure on the Capitol’s emergency shelter services. And also it sounds like they’re trying to clean out some hotels that are used to house homeless people.
Yeah, cause I mean, hotels, that’s, that is one strategy of usage. They’ve done that in areas of America as well, but it really sounds like they’re trying to clean out some hotels to make them available. Each week, between 50 and 150 people are taken to one of 10 locations across France, according to the government.
Wow. Well, you, Paris is hardly the first city to do this. Right. So, I’m not gonna even criticize them for this, because it seems like whenever there’s a [01:30:00] big event, this is what happens. Let’s make it look pretty for the cameras.
Right. And it’s, it’s hard when you have to address a… A very big issue that’s got a lot of causes and there’s a lot of migrants who come to France for opportunity.
Sometimes you get an influx and you can’t deal with that. it’s a very complex situation and when it’s very easy to say, oh, they’re just pushing them out. Yes, to make things nicer, hopefully, maybe this is an opportunity for somebody to find a job in another city. I don’t know.
[01:30:36] Alison: I hope in the moving, it’s not just let’s clean out the riffraff, let’s actually position them.
I mean, I doubt this is happening, but I’ll say it anyway, position them in another place in the country where they can have opportunities. I hope LA is able to come up with a program. In relocating, because you know they’re going to do it. We know they’re going to do it. Yes. Can you come up with a program that puts people in a place and sets them on their feet?
Especially homeless families, where the kids can get proper educations, where the parents can work, where we can actually, again, use the Olympics to better society. Am I too naive to think that that would be a possibility? I don’t know. Save
me, LA. Yeah. It’s hopeful. But I don’t know. I mean, there’s so many, it’s such a big problem.
It’s so multifaceted and so complex. It would be nice if cities could work on something, but I don’t, I don’t know if they will. And then they go, Oh, wait, we’ve got the games and we’ve just got to make something happen. Here’s a quick fix. Instead, but we have this all the time where cities don’t want to do infrastructure things.
And then the Olympics comes along and all of a sudden it’s like, Ooh, we got to build sidewalks. We got to plant trees. So I, I don’t know, if there’s enough resources or enough desire to put [01:32:00] resources, the proper resources behind helping the situation in a way that would be transformative and positive and Ongoing change
anything happy going on. Not really. So, uh,
this actually struck me as very funny because go ahead. Do you explain first? And then? , Paris, the city is restricting film and TV shoots. For the period around the Olympic games, so accident and period movies are to be banned in some areas. 31st.
There’s going to be a lot of different bands for movie sets and film sets and TV sets to not be able to film in Paris, particularly along the Concord and Trocadero eras areas. So, yeah, it’s very interesting and funny.
they specifically noted action and period dramas. And I know that has to do with they’re putting a lot of the signage around and they don’t want to take it down.
And obviously Napoleon never saw the Olympic rings, but I have this image now of, Marie Antoinette standing in the sidelines, cheering on the marathoners. I think that would be great. So I’m a little disappointed about the period dramas. But at least now I don’t have to pack my corset.
I’ve opened that room up in the suitcase.
If you would like to work at the games, and maybe this would be helpful for those Homeless people who are getting pushed out of the city, although then you run it in, CNN article about the moving of people around the country, they did talk to somebody who has a job, has a real contract for a job and can’t afford to get a place to live.
That’s his issue and he can’t leave Paris because he needs to be there for his job. So maybe some of these jobs that are open because many companies that are contracted with the games are hiring. There are about 16, 000 [01:34:00] vacancies in jobs like catering, security, transport, and cleaning. companies are recruiting for these jobs.
There was a job fair in Saint Denis, but you can also apply via website and we will have that in the show notes.
You can be part of the magical hour of vacuuming. You
could! Oh my gosh, wouldn’t that be fantastic?
Olympic Legacy News
[01:34:19] Alison: We have a little bit of legacy news to report. The swimming pool from Athens 2004 is getting Renovated.
Well, it wasn’t in great shape to begin with. No, the original pool was built in 1940 and it was Greece’s first Olympic sized swimming pool. It closed in 2012 due to lack of funds and technical issues.
And the IOC reports that the Hellenic Olympic committee, Spiros Kapralos, who is I believe a construction firm and the city of Athens have signed a contract to renovate and reopen the pool. Work is expected to finish in 2026 and when it’s done, national teams will use it for five hours a day and the rest of the time it will be open to the public.
? OPA! Well, it’ll be interesting to see because you know what else I’ve seen? Stories about crumbling stadiums in. Athens lately. So we’ll see how that goes. well, that’s going to do it for this week. Let us know what your thoughts are of the Sydney Olympics because you know, it’s the anniversary of those games right about now.
[01:35:24] Jill: And you can connect with us on X and Instagram at flamealivepod. Email us at flamealivepod at gmail. com. Call or text us at 2 0 8 That’s 2 0 8 flame it. Be sure to join the keep the flame alive podcast group on Facebook and see Brittany’s amazing spreadsheets. And don’t forget to get our weekly newsletter filled with other fun stories about this week’s episode.
You can sign up for that at flamealivepod. com.
[01:35:56] Alison: You know what we forgot to mention? Happy anniversary! [01:36:00] Happy anniversary! We have been doing this thing for six years and oh my gosh it’s been such a ride. We can’t wait for many more years to come and really listeners it’s all because of you that this does happen every week and during the games every day.
So speaking of weeks, next week we’re going to talk with beach volleyball player Betsi Flint. Thank you so much for listening and until next time keep the flame alive.