Reflections of A NCAA Skier,Queen Contestant, Athlete, Honor Student and Part-Time Nature Lover…

My sister-in-law Melanie and my niece Anabel are in town for a few days, and Thursday afternoon, my husband and I had a chance to “rap” with them a bit while we were all at my folks’ house.

It was awkward at first, just like it is at most family gatherings, when people attempt to make “small talk” with each other. But as time passed a bit, the tongues loosened up a bit, and conversation became a bit more easy.

Speaking of “easy?” Anabel’s life has been anything BUT easy! She just turned 18 in January, and will be graduating high school in May. She talked off the cuff a bit about some of the pressures she feels in her daily life. She works her ass off to maintain a 4.0 GPA, she’s president of her school’s National Honor Society chapter, she’s an NCAA skier in the U18 category (recently traveled to the Junior Nationals in Anchorage, AK), and she’s lettered in track and cross country. She was first runner up in Chassell’s “Strawberry Queen” event a couple of summers ago, so she had THAT line item to add her to college applications!


She said she was excited to be able to wear this dress more than once (also wore it to a prom).

Even while on her school vacation, she went out for a five-mile run the same morning of the day we came to visit. Her life is booked pretty solid! She gets very little chances to just be a kid (and since she’s 18 now, she’s technically an adult).

We felt almost bad that Melanie roused her from a nap when we came over!

“You didn’t have to wake up on our account,” I joked. “We could’ve just come up to your room and stared at you while you slept.”

She stays up into the wee hours just getting all of her homework done, there are countless practices/training sessions, her various responsibilities (as NHS president, for example) and occasional…mishaps. She talked a bit about a dangerous curve in a ski route where she’d taken a spill into the trees.

“It was a frictionless plane,” she said of the dicey (and icy) curve, which bruised her up quite a bit when she took the spill – but she was still able to finish her race. And yes, her teammates teased her about it quite a bit!

She also talked of the 2018 Junior Nationals in Utah, and the “balmy” 50-plus degree weather that dogged the skiers (in addition to the higher altitudes). She said she disliked skiing in the “slush,” and said the higher altitude really negatively affected her performance. I told her that when I go the Smoky Mountains, I always have a difficult time acclimating myself to the high altitudes as well. An eight-mile hike we took with 2,000 foot elevation game really put me to the test (and I don’t think I passed that test)!

There was one event from quite a few years ago that really brought a smile to her face. It was the “Rump Roast Run” in Minocqua, WI – which is part of their annual “Beef A Rama” events. The male and female winners of the 5K race take home (you guessed it) rump roasts! Other winners get cow bells.

“I really hope you win this race, Anabel,” my brother (her father) said to her. “I have the big cooler in the car.”

She indeed was the female winner of the race, taking home a 20-pound rump roast, which was later used to feed people at a skiing banquet. Melanie said it took quite a long time to cook that thing at low temps!

Pictures or it didn’t happen?


Straight outta Simpsons? Rump Roast Run winners, Beef-A-Rama, 2016.

I didn’t like hearing about how difficult it is for her to juggle all of the facets of her busy life – and as she approaches college in the fall (and possibly employment), it’s only going to get more difficult. She’s on a Hell of a ride with her nearly constant pursuit of excellence, and I fear what will happen to her when her “fire” goes out. Though I’m unbelievably proud of her (how in the world do I share any DNA with her)?

It would be nice if my husband and I could have one more camping trip with her, like the one we took to the “Porkies” in 2012. She had three “unstructured” days when she could just play with blades of grass (among other things). And we had fried cheese curds after two nights of eating dehydrated “meals in a bag!” Here are a couple of “off leash” photos from that trip…



It would be nice to see her “off leash” for a couple of days again!


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