Great thing about dreams; they’re still among the best bargains around. Of course, to actually pursue one is quite another story.
Savannah Graybill has been chasing her dream for nine years, through the highs and lows, the successes and setbacks. So she hasn’t come this far to let something like money stand in her way. Which means the next month or so will be another challenge for the Cocalico High grad and U.S. national skeleton team member.
Graybill got good news last weekend when she learned she’d won a spot in the World Cup, which begins Dec. 6 in Lake Placid, New York. Her other news, however, was that as the No. 3 U.S. woman, she must cover her own expenses for two and a half months of competition in Europe.
Excited as she is to represent her country, Graybill also finds herself trying to make a mental adjustment.
“It’s hard to reach near the pinnacle of the sport, outside of the Olympics, and not have that support,’’ she said last week. “Our federation is going through quite a few changes right now, and unfortunately, funding is very difficult for us to come by this year.’’
Among those changes, the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation fired CEO Darrin Steele in mid-August. Though Steele’s teams enjoyed success through much of his 12-year tenure, reports of his dismissal noted a recent decline in medal-winners.
It seems worth noting here that, as Graybill noted, the USOPC factors in prior performances when doling out its financial aid.
“There are many other factors, and obviously, our sports, bobsled and skeleton, are very expensive,’’ she said. “And this year, every (federation) is fighting for every dollar it can possibly get to support its team.’’
Graybill is actually getting a break, since the World Cup begins in Lake Placid. Still, her estimated tab — travel, lodging, meals, event and training fees and a rental car — is $10,000 to $13,000, depending on whether certain costs can be shared with a teammate. Being a skeleton athlete, she also has bills that others don’t. Baggage fees for her equipment, to name one, “can be as much as the plane ticket,’’ she said.
Perhaps adding to her frustration, Graybill’s performing better than ever. She was the first woman to break 55 seconds at Lake Placid during the recent U.S. team trials, after finishing eighth overall (first among Americans) at the IBSF World Championships in August.
“Between my pushing being so much better and my sliding being so much better,’’ she said, “there’s so much more in me. There’s so much more to go.’’
She has continued working at her offseason job, in corporate communications for the Adecco Group. She says she has some “emergency money’’ saved up, but she will spend this month in search of sponsors.
Graybill’s not comfortable asking anyone for money. She says her request “feels really frivolous.’’ At the same time, she really doesn’t want to take out a loan or run up a monster credit card bill. But one way or another, she says she’s going.
Funny how you never see these stories next to the pictures on the cereal boxes.
• Connect with Jeff Young, a former LNP sports editor, at email@example.com.