World-renowned athletes address BYU at recruiting meeting


World-class Olympians urged BYU students to pursue their dreams and to take control of their lives in a recruiting meeting held for hopeful accounting students Tuesday.

Olympians Noelle Pikus-Pace, who competes in skeleton races, and Sam Kavanagh, a bronze medal para-cyclist, told their stories of how their perseverance through different stages of life helped them to become top contenders at worldwide athletic competitions. This was part of the Team USA Road Show put on by Deloitte, the world’s largest professional services network.

Sam Kavangh shows his prosthetic to emphasize the importance of pursing your dreams. Photo by Ari Davis.
Sam Kavanagh shows his prosthetic leg to emphasize the importance of pursing your dreams. (Photo by Ari Davis)

Pikus-Pace, who finished fourth place in the 2010 Winter Olympics, has competed in several skeleton races around the world. Skeleton racing involves going head first down a bobsled track on a sled, with speeds around 90 mph.

“I learned at a very early age that no one was going to get me to where I wanted to be except for myself,” Pikus-Pace said.

While out doing a practice run down a track in Europe, Pikus-Pace was in an accident. While nearing the end of the track, she flew into the air towards some wood above her. After hitting it, she let go of her sled. She attributed hitting the wood above her as being because that was where her focus was.

“Where you look is where you’re going to go,” Pikus-Pace said. “Where are you looking? What goals are you setting for yourself?”

Noelle Pikus-Pace shares her story of determination and perseverance. Photo by Ari Davis.
Noelle Pikus-Pace shares her story of determination and perseverance. (Photo by Ari Davis)

Kavanagh competed as a para-cyclist at the 2012 London Olympic Games. He and his team members received a bronze medal for their efforts.

In 2005, while out camping with friends, an avalanche severely wounded Kavanagh’s left leg.

“During those perilous moments on the slope, I was ready to give up,” Kavanagh said. “And instead, there was a voice that told me to keep my eyes open.”

By the time he was flown out of the mountain range two days later, he had lost half of his blood volume and was experiencing kidney failure. His leg was amputated shortly thereafter.

A few months later, his wife encouraged him to get back onto a bicycle, an activity that Kavanagh had loved previously but felt he couldn’t compete in. He then went on to qualify for and then compete in 2012 in London.

“If you surround yourself with people who believe in you, then the times when you stumble, you can’t help but succeed,” Kavanagh said.

Jeff Plowman, a representative of Deloitte, said Deloitte had signed on to be the official sponsors of the United States Olympic Committee through 2020.

“As a firm our culture is all about integrity, leadership, strength from cultural diversity, and those are all things that the Olympic spirit really embodies,” Plowman said.

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