EDITOR'S NOTE: BPSports editor Tim Ellsworth has been in Vancouver for Baptist Press' coverage of the Winter Olympics, with credentialing from the U.S. Olympic Committee. Ellsworth has been writing about various Christian athletes and how they fare in their respective competitions. Additional reports are being provided by a media team from the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board on ministry-related initiatives in conjunction with the Winter Games.
WHISTLER, British Columbia (BP)--Erin Pac and Elana Meyers may be bobsled teammates, but they haven't always been the best of friends.
The U.S. bobsledding duo had a falling out last year. Though they decline to go into details, "We didn't speak for a long time," Pac said.
Not content to let things remain that way, however, the two women -- both Christians -- began working on their relationship. And now, as they prepare to compete together at the Winter Olympics, they have repaired their friendship and are ready to race not for their own achievement, but for God's glory.
"It's taken a lot of time and forgiveness," Pac said. "I'm so happy that we can work stuff out and ... and be a light for Him."
During her first year competing in the sport, Meyers served as Pac's brakeman. In Meyers' second year, she began switching drivers, which opened the door to the division between the two.
"It's hard because one week you're with a pilot, and then the next week you're on a competing sled," Meyers said. "So relationships get strained and things happen. It's just a difficult sport to be in."
In a lot of ways, Pac and Meyers are drastically different. Pac grew up in Connecticut and began bobsledding at the prompting of her college track coach. She started out as a brakeman but didn't make the Olympics in that role, so she switched to piloting.
"The reason I decided to become a driver is because you are then in control of your own destiny to make the Olympic team," Pac said. "It's basically on the driver's shoulders to make the Olympic team. It's what happens down the hill, not when we're just about to start."
Meyers, meanwhile, hails from the warm state of Georgia and grew up playing softball, even playing professionally before deciding to take a different path with her life. She watched bobsledding in the 2006 Olympics and started e-mailing people in an attempt to get involved with the sport. Before she knew it, she got a tryout.
But as different as Pac and Meyers might be, the bonds that unite them are stronger than their divisions. Both of them came to faith in Christ as adults and are committed to being a witness to others in their sport.
"A lot of my teammates come to me if they need to talk, if they need encouragement, anything like that," Pac said. "I think that's God showing through me. Because I can't do that on my own. I can't help encourage other athletes who I'm competing against. That's hard for me. I definitely think He's trying to speak through me in the sport."
For Meyers, her walk with the Lord helps her keep bobsledding from being a higher priority than it should be.
"I used to be a person, before I accepted Jesus as my Savior, that believed that sports was the be-all, end-all," Meyers said. "Even though I said God was number one, I put sports number one. My relationship with Christ really allows me to keep bobsledding in its perspective. At the end of the day, God loves me whether I win a gold medal or whether I finish dead last."
Their shared commitment to the Lord also has helped them overcome the obstacles in their relationship.
"I think our relationship has grown a lot, and what we do share in common is our faith," Meyers said. "We both have strong faith, we both believe in God and Jesus and I think that helps a lot when we're trying to do what we're trying to do and compete for the glory of God on the world's biggest sports stage."
When Meyers and Pac take to the slide Feb. 23-24, they know that the past is behind them, and they can unite behind the goal of performing well in the Winter Games.
"I think we can really pull together now and just be an awesome team," Pac said.
February 25, 2010
Copyright (c) 2010 Baptist Press. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
Tim Ellsworth, in addition to his work for BPSports, is director of news and media relations at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. For additional BP stories from the Winter Olympics, go to http://www.bpnews.net/BPCollectionNews.asp?ID=166. For Tim Ellsworth's Olympics blog, go to http://www.bpnews.net/blog/.