The U.S. Bobsled & Skeleton Federation (USBSF) has announced a partnership with Classroom Champions, an international education and mentorship organization created by three-time Olympian and Olympic gold medalist Steve Mesler and Dr. Leigh Parise, PhD in Education/Social Policy.
Mesler helped push Steven Holcomb to a gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Games as a member of his four-man bobsled team, breaking a 62-year gold medal drought for the U.S. team. Mesler shared his journey towards Olympic glory with classrooms across the country through video chat and videos, and the successful pilot program spurred the idea for Classroom Champions.
"It's been really impressive to watch one of our past Olympians build this organization over the past five years," said Darrin Steele, USBSF CEO. "We've supported Classroom Champions informally in the past and it makes sense to put our official support behind this great organization."
Classroom Champions impacts thousands of students across the U.S., Canada, and Costa Rica. The first-of-its-kind organization was founded in 2009 by Mesler and Dr. Parise Over 50 Olympians, Paralympians, and Olympic medalists have mentored students in their home countries over the course of an entire school year, resulting in measured improvements in student resiliency and grit, classroom engagement, digital literacy, and interpersonal skills.
"We started Classroom Champions because we recognized kids need strong role models in their lives and in my last year of competition, I was in a position to do this on a large scale," Mesler said. "We believed kids could dream, sometimes they just needed someone to help show them how to achieve that dream."
Bobsled Olympic medalists Elana Meyers Taylor and Curt Tomasevicz are just two of the many athletes to participate in the program over the years. Meyers Taylor and Tomasevicz documented their triumphs and obstacles en route to the world's stage at the 2014 Sochi Games through videos and live classroom chats, and Meyers Taylor was able to share her Olympic silver medal with her students during a classroom visit last spring.
"The USBSF and its athletes believe what Classroom Champions does, that kids have what it takes to succeed," Mesler said. "USBSF athletes have always demonstrated that dreams can be achieved by setting goals high and persevering through challenges. Current Classroom Champions mentor Elana Meyers Taylor has been a testament to that for over two years as she's taught kids across the country how to be resilient. To partner with USBSF is an honor for Classroom Champions and to have the support of the people I had my success on the track with is very exciting for me personally."
Classroom Champions will get a dedicated wrap on a four-man bobsled for the 2014-2015 World Cup season and World Championships, which includes stops in Lake Placid, N.Y.; Calgary, Canada; Altenberg, Germany; Koenigssee, Germany; St. Moritz, Switzerland; La Plagne, France; Igls, Austria; Sochi, Russia and Winterberg, Germany.
The sled wrap features quotes by two students that have participated in the program. Dodge, a 5th grader from Benjamin T. Bullock Elementary School in Sanford, N.C. wrote, "To be a champion means to be a leader," which will be highlighted on the right side of the sled.
"I'm beyond excited for Dodge and I'm honored to be his teacher," said Benjamin T. Bullock Elementary School teacher Christina Stone. "Tears, butterflies, and goose bumps; this is awesome. I can't wait to share my excitement with my school and community when the announcement comes.
"This opportunity that USA Bobsled, Steve, and the entire CC community has given our students is so incredible," Stone added.
Kareena, a 6th grader from Neptune Middle School in Kissimmee, Fla. will have her quote, "We all are champions, no matter how different we are," on the left side of the sled.
"I am so excited for Kareena," said Neptune Middle School teacher Kristina Jasmin. "I am proud that her quote about differences will been seen by so many others and make others think about what a champion truly is. Kareena is a wise girl for someone so young and I am honored to be her teacher. I can't wait to share the news with her, her classmates and the school district."
Learn more about Classroom Champions by visiting www.ClassroomChampions.org. Stay updated on the team's progress leading up to the World Cup season by following the team on the USBSF Twitter page or the USA Bobsled & Skeleton Facebook page.
About the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation: The United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. The USBSF would like to thank its sponsors, suppliers and contributors for their support: BMW of North America, Century 21 Real Estate, Under Armour, Kampgrounds of America CEVA Logistics, Boomerang Carnets, Latta Kefir, Azad Watches, Park City Lodging, Inc., Classroom Champions, Autism Speaks, EDAS/Ripxx, Tesa Tape, UberSense and Ferris Mfg. Corp. For more information, please visit the USBSF website at http://bobsled.teamusa.org.