How Olympian Mechelle Lewis Freeman Is Helping Others Find Their Strength


When an damage sidetracked her working profession on the College of South ­Carolina, Mechelle Lewis ­Freeman wasted no time launching her plan B. She set her sights on a grasp’s diploma in advertising and marketing and communications and imagined herself settled in a nook workplace of a New York Metropolis promoting company.

Two weeks into an unpaid practicum, nevertheless, her plan B threatened to unravel. She’d moved to the town for the internship and was planning her marriage ceremony when the engagement was immediately known as off.

Slightly than go away New York brokenhearted and empty-handed, Freeman discovered a technique to make her plan work. She moved in with a coworker, accomplished the internship, graduated, and was provided a place with the agency. All in three months. None of it was simple.

“It was a time of pure isolation,” she remembers, noting that the teachings she’d realized from her dad and mom — transfer from a basis of religion, get clear on her values, maintain herself accountable to her imaginative and prescient — guided her by way of the interval. “That was a time of understanding myself and coming into my energy,” she provides.

As her sense of self grew to become clearer, plan A reappeared.

Freeman’s school track-and-field teammates had continued to compete and had been qualifying for world championship groups; some had made the 2004 Olympic workforce. At that time, it had been 4 years since she’d run competitively. However she’d been contemplating it once more, so she began coaching. Quickly she noticed her athletic desires hadn’t died in any case.

“I noticed if I needed to make the Olympic workforce, I needed to one hundred pc decide to that imaginative and prescient,” she says. So, Freeman selected to chase her dream.

In 2007, she received gold on the world championships in Osaka, Japan, and took house two silver medals from the Pan American Video games — momentum that helped her safe a spot on the ladies’s track-and-field workforce for the 2008 Olympics.

After retiring from competitors in 2010 and returning briefly to the promoting world, Freeman refocused her profession — now to assist new generations of athletes. She based TrackGirlz, a nationwide nonprofit that gives entry to trace and area to middle- and high-school women. She is head ladies’s relay coach for USA Monitor and Subject. She leads trainings for Extremely Match, Life Time’s performance-focused group coaching program, educating fellow coaches the science of transferring optimally, in order that they, in flip, can coach others. And in her work with the Life Time Basis, she’s helped pilot the launch of motion packages for colleges.

For Freeman, this all provides as much as serving to as many individuals as potential uncover their very own energy and potential.

Q&A With Mechelle Lewis FreemanMechelle Freeman

Expertise Life | After the 2008 Olympics, you shifted your focus from your personal desires to these of others. What conjures up you to guide ladies and create alternatives for women by way of observe and area?

Mechelle Lewis Freeman | Once I was rising up, my mother at all times did every little thing she might to verify my sister and I had entry to alternatives. So, when USA Monitor and Subject known as me about teaching after I retired, for me it was, OK, what can I do to be an instance now? My focus shifted from myself to what I’m creating for others, what I’m forsaking.

With TrackGirlz, which I based the identical yr I began teaching, I began to consider how middle- and high-school years are so formative for women and the way observe and area helped me with my improvement throughout this time interval. Then I realized extra about observe and area’s affect — that it’s the highest-participatory sport for middle- and high-school women, and the way it makes such a major bodily, psychological, and social optimistic impression on women’ lives. And I noticed there was a necessity for extra assist.

I began with workshops the place I introduced my community — Olympians and world champions — to those communities, giving women direct entry to the highest-level athletes. Now we have now grants that give direct assets to ladies, and we have now a curriculum for third events to implement the empowerment classes we’ve been educating.

EL | What’s the connection for you between the literal motion of health and motion towards targets — and thru life’s challenges?

MLF | I do consider bodily motion as a metaphor. We had been born to maneuver. I need to have the ability to transfer as greatest as I can, really feel the very best as I can. Motion is that freedom to be an instance for my youngsters and different athletes.

It’s additionally vital for us to be transferring or progressing towards one thing mentally, bodily, and spiritually. I consider we ought to be continually transferring towards being the very best people we may be.

And actual issues occur. My dad has stage IV most cancers they usually’ve given him months to dwell. My twin sister just lately had a stroke; she has aphasia and may’t transfer her proper arm or communicate or write as fluently proper now. I misplaced a greatest pal, who I lived with in New York, to most cancers.

This final six months for me have been what I name a Job part: Within the Bible, Job had every little thing and misplaced every little thing — his youngsters, his fortune, his well being. We’re going to face loss of life. We’re going to face loss. However on the finish of the day, your religion can get you thru that, too.

That’s if you discover out in the event you can nonetheless maintain your self accountable to who you might be. That’s the place your threshold will increase, and also you develop. That’s if you’ll be uncovered to these magical areas that lots of people received’t be capable of contact. I hope that I can contact these highest ranges of religion and perseverance and squeeze out all that I can expertise within the days on this earth that I’ve.

EL | Do you ever take a break?

MLF | [Laughs] I imply, I have a look at my day and it’s fixed motion with every little thing that should occur! However relaxation and restoration are vital, whether or not bodily — you want your physique to have that restoration to have the ability to carry out your greatest — or mentally.

I discover my psychological relaxation in gratitude. Loads of instances I’ll discover myself annoyed ­as a result of I wish to obtain one thing and I’m not there but, or I really feel like I’m falling quick. However then I cease and understand I’m additionally so grateful — for my husband, David, for my youngsters, Bayne and Harley. I’m grateful for my sister, my dad and mom, and my assist system. I’m grateful for my position to guide these ladies on a observe.

There are such a lot of issues that may transfer you into the hustle and bustle of life — that tug of simply making an attempt to do all of it and wanting all of it. However I discover the remaining and restoration is in being grateful for what’s in entrance of you as nicely.

EL | What life classes do you share with these you lead that transcend athletics?

MLF | I train what I realized in New York once I didn’t understand how I used to be going to make all of it work, however I knew I needed to be true to myself. I name it that daring stage of “doing it afraid” since you’re going to be scared as hell, however you’ve nonetheless acquired to do it, no matter it’s, step-by-step. You’re not going to see the top of the staircase, however you are taking the subsequent step, after which the subsequent step exhibits up and you are taking that step. That’s the entire religion half.

Then the dedication and self-discipline are your on a regular basis decisions. What are you listening to day-after-day? What are you studying day-after-day? Who’re you speaking to day-after-day? Every thing you soak up goes to take up area. It’s so vital to feed what you wish to develop and starve habits that don’t align with the place you’re going. You’re both transferring ahead otherwise you’re transferring backward. However you might be at all times transferring.

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Get a peek on the cover-photo shoot with Mechelle Lewis Freeman right here!

This text initially appeared as “Main With Coronary heart” within the June 2023 difficulty of Expertise Life.