Every four years the nation’s greatest track and field athletes will take center stage at the Summer Olympic Games. This June the country’s most amazing track and field athletes will converge in Eugene Oregon and Olympia’s very own Jenny Brogdon hopes to be among them. Olympic athletes are known for their limitless determination and bounding optimism. When we see one of our own, standing on the podium, watching the American flag raise and the national anthem played, it is purely magnificent.
The first thing that you notice about Jenny Brogdon is how tall she is! At 6’2 her height is almost as stunning as her smile. Jenny lights up the room! The second thing you’ll notice is how welcoming she is. She is a woman that could literally look down at you, but she extremely gracious and approachable. Don’t let her passion for fitness and specifically her goal in wearing a Team USA track & field uniform this summer in London fool you. She may be a tiger on the track, but in real life she just a regular gal with some serious hops.
Jenny lives and breathes fitness. She left a full time information and technology job at Esri last year to create a work situation that would allow her to train for the 2012 Olympic Trials. She has been at Ignite Fitness in Tumwater since October, where she is general manager as well as a personal trainer. You could assume that hiring an aspiring Olympic athlete as your trainer would be intimidating, but that is not the case. Jenny connects with her clients through her passion for fitness and her personal experiences of setting goals and reaching them. She feels passionately that the sense of accomplishment and barriers broken at the gym are transferable to all aspects of our lives.
There is no escaping how goal oriented Jenny is. Jenny’s mantra “you have a goal, you set out a plan, and then you achieve your goal.” She has done that athletically and academically. Her coach Bryan Hoddle describes her as ” the hardest working and most dedicate athlete I’ve ever worked with.”
She’s got “hops”
As a kid Jenny grew-up in LaGrande Oregon. She has been high-jumping for 20 years. Her dad was a track coach and noticed that she had “hops” at an early age. As a kid she did four sports a year, and high jump was just one of them. In high school she realized that she had something special as a high jumper, and was given an athletic scholarship to the University of Oregon. I know not everyone is a track & field geek….but U of O is huge. It is “Track Town USA”!
Build it step- by- step
So what kind of groundwork do you need to be an Olympic hopeful? Jenny is # 6 all- time athlete at the University of Oregon for high jump. She was PAC 10 runner up for 2002. This is a girl that worked her tail off scholastically and athletically – earning a track letterman scholarship. She is not only wicked fit, but wicked smart. If that isn’t enough, before hitting Hayward Field she was a two-time Oregon 4A high school state champ.
Team USA or bust! What does it take?
So the question is this. How does a high jumper get to the Olympics? You need to follow the following 3 steps:
1. Clear the Olympic Trial Standards once before June 2012 at any designated meet. Qualifying Standards are: a) 6’1″ or b) 6’2″
2. On Olympic Trials day the bar is set at 5’10”. All ladies get up to three attempts to clear the mark. Each lady who clears it competes in the main competition the following day.
3. The Top 3 from the main competition (that day) who have cleared the Olympic Standards make it to the London Olympic Games. Everyone is on equal ground.
Olympic hopefuls will flood Track Town USA with determination, hard work, and passion to perform with all their body and soul to get a spot on Team USA. Jenny and Coach Hoddle realize how special it is that the Olympic Trials are at the U of O, Jenny’s hometown track!
Day in the life of an Olympic hopeful
So what does a day in the life of an Olympic hopeful look like? If you’re thinking Starbucks at 9AM and lunch at the Bread Peddler…………..sorry, your wrong. If you embrace kale and like 12 hour days…you’re a smidge of the way there.
Jenny wakes up at 6AM every day – with NO coffee. She does drink tea and take supplements. I was able to breathe again after she mentioned she at least drank tea. Breakfast is a green drink (those are never good), eggs, and often kale. At 7AM she’s teaching a boot-camp class at Ignite Fitness. Mid-morning is refuel time – a snack of Greek yogurt, fruit and veggies. In between working with clients Jenny will sneak in a lunch of leftovers, usually the previous night’s dinner, of lean protein, fruit and veggies. She will work at Ignite until 3PM and then slurp down a pre-workout smoothie while heading to a 3 1/2 hour workout. Workouts can consist of jumps, track drills, and weights. Jenny has purchased her own equipment which she leaves at The Evergreen State College. High jumping is a very demanding sport because you are constantly pounding your body, so after a workout there is “rehab.” She’ll rehab till 8PM, which can be a combination of yoga, stretching, ice baths, or massage. The night is capped off with a dinner of a lean protein, healthy carbohydrate and veggies. Ok, that is ONE day! Think of that routine day-after-day, YEAR – after -YEAR. So being a foodie I had to know if she ever broke routine, and yes folks, she’s human! Jenny’s weekly guilty pleasure – a Mc Flurry. She also indulges in Mexican food the night before a big meet.
Athletes vying for a spot on the Olympic team first have to make it to the Olympic Trials. That means after the rigors of training you still need to compete on weekends to sharpen your game and hit that almighty Olympic Qualifying height.
Jenny jumps for Club Northwest, so you’ll see her sporting their blue and orange uniform. She and Coach Hoddle will get to the meet a few hours early and watch the other athletes compete in their respective disciplines. An hour before her event she’ll start to warm-up. When I asked about her “pre-meet” routine she was very forthcoming in how much the mental /visualization game plays into her performance. Competition at this level is very mental. People can train their bodies for performance, but until their mind is ready to override any setbacks, your best workouts will be left in the gym or on the track. Fear of failure and fear of success will stop any elite athlete in their track. If you think that it’s strange to hear that athletes would be fearful of success, for a moment think of what success encompasses. Success is a pressure cooker. Jenny has worked on mastering her mental game. She watches videos of herself, of pros, and her competition. She’s mentally engaged, knowing that visualization is the fuel for that competitive edge. Being mentally strong allows her to lay down that hammer at competition and show the world how hard she’s been training. She has turned those belly butterflies into power!
No athlete does it alone
Brian Hoddle is no stranger to Olympic caliber athletes, he was the 2004 Head Coach for the US Paralympic Track and Field Team. Jenny and Coach Hoddle met though mutual friends while they were helping kids at a track and field camp in Oregon. After watching her teach he asked her to speak at a clinic in Seattle. “He saw potential in me….something that I knew was there, but hadn’t recognized fully.”
Coach Hoddle knows that being a post-collegiate athlete is really tough. You lose all the luxuries offered in the colligate environment. “Jenny has assembled the team of experts she needs to take it to the next level.” Being a post-collegiate athlete means that you put in 12 hour days – between work and work-outs. Coach and athlete are awake in the dark and still training when the sun goes down. Being a top level high jumper in the United States is tough and living in the Pacific Northwest doesn’t make it any easier. “There have been many days of standing out in the pouring rain, cold, and wind.” There are certainly times when Coach Hoddle and Jenny have questioned “is it worth it?” Then ” you visualize the American Flag going up and the National Anthem being played and you realize EVERY minute is worth it.”
Right now while Jenny is busy training and Coach Hoddle is busy organizing and facilitating workouts, they both know that they need sponsorships to facilitate success. Coach Hoddle is doing everything to secure sponsorships to help Jenny pursue her goal of representing the USA in London! Please visit Jenny’s or Coach Hoddle’s respective websites for sponsorship information.
We are cheering you on Jenny!
“An obstacle is put in front of you to see if you wanted something or you just thought you did.”