Elana Meyers always dreamed of being an Olympian atop the podium hearing her national anthem. This dream is still coming true, but not the way she imagined.
Meyers is now an Olympic bobsledder, but from the age of nine, she lived and breathed softball. As the first softball recruit at George Washington University, she quickly set nearly every offensive record. But it wasn’t all perfect. “My sophomore year, our softball team was doing really badly and our season ended up getting canceled,” says Meyers. “So, that being the center of my life, I got really depressed. I didn’t know what my purpose was. I just started researching religions. Something inside of me told me I needed more than this. I knew that I needed to change my life.”
Over Christmas break that year, Meyers was reading a book about spiritual things when she felt overwhelmed with emotion and started crying. “It hit me that Jesus is the way,” she recalls. “It was so strong and powerful; I knew that I needed to change my life.”
When Meyers returned to GWU the next semester, she got plugged into the Athletes in Action (AIA) group on campus where she began to understand the meaning of being a Christ-follower. As the athletes grew in their faith, their community grew in number. It wasn’t long before Meyers became a leader in the group, and her friends challenged her to teach at an AIA meeting.
“To be able to share God’s Word and my faith with people all over our school was an amazing opportunity,” says Meyers. As a student leader, Meyers learned to recognize a group’s needs and grow through the struggles. She applies these same lessons in bobsledding.
In 2003, Meyers thought her dreams were coming true with an invitation to try out for the U.S. softball team. “I had an Olympics tryout, but I totally ‘crashed and burned’ during it,” she states. “I knew if I wanted to pursue this dream of going to the Olympics, I needed a new sport.”
It wasn’t until retiring from professional softball in 2007 that Meyers remembered her parents’ advice from five years before that she try out for the U.S. bobsled team. “I emailed the [U.S. bobsled] coach, they invited me to Lake Placid, N.Y. to try out, and two weeks later I made the national team,” says Meyers.
Since then, Meyers has worked hard to become one of the top female bobsledders in the country. She won bronze in the 2010 Winter Olympics. “To walk away with a medal was the accomplishment of a lifelong dream,” she remembers. “That’s one of those moments when you know how real God is. I think I won that medal to glorify Him.”
As an elite driver, Meyers has gained respect and a leadership position on the U.S. team. She aims to get to know new bobsledders and foster them into athletes with Christian values who will continue to grow the sport. “One of the big reasons I was put in bobsled is to help people not only reach their goals, but come to Christ,” says Meyers, who won the silver medal in Sochi. “God put me here for a specific reason and I don’t think it’s just to win medals,” she adds. “I’m in this sport to glorify God, so if that means I come in last place or I win the gold medal, that’s what I’m going to do.”
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