Team USA bobsledder Dallas Robinson, center, with Asbury University's Ashley Walls, Meredith Schellin, professor Sarah Leckie and Aaron Brenneman
He might just be the only person at the 2014 Winter Olympics casually strolling through Sochi in cowboy boots and a Western belt buckle. Dallas Robinson, a track and field coach at Berea College and a sergeant in the Kentucky National Guard, is the only athlete from Kentucky competing in the Games.
Although Robinson is miles away from his home in Georgetown, we were able to remind him a little of the Bluegrass State when we interviewed him in the Olympic Park in Sochi. Though Robinson has been on the road since September, he was more than willing to meet up with us to discuss how he became a member of the U.S.A. bobsledding team in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
“It’s definitely an unusual journey,” says Robinson. “I would say that it happened on accident, but as a man of faith I truly believe that nothing happens on accident and that if you’re willing, the Lord is going to place you where he wants you.”
In high school, Robinson was a record-breaking track runner for Oldham County High School in Buckner. He says that transitioned into a successful track career, which transitioned into a rugby career. The whole time he was dabbling in the two different sports at a post-college level, Robinson says he also was coaching track and field at different schools around Kentucky.
“I knew that was where I wanted to be—mentoring and investing in the kids and our youth,” Robinson says. “Throughout the process, the Lord kind of showed me that He really wasn’t done with the physical abilities I’d been given, and I was willing to continue to use them. I fell into--no pun intended--bobsledding.”
From there, Robinson says his road to the Olympics began. “I knew in my heart that [the Olympics] was where it was going to end up. It was kind of what needed to happen, so I could be a better mentor for the kids that I coach back home.”
Though Robinson says the journey to the Olympics has been a long one, there are a few benefits he now can indulge in that he couldn’t enjoy when he was training to be in the Olympics for track and field.
“[Bobsledding] is a lot like track and field,” Robinson says. “You have to be explosive… but you get to lift a lot more weights, which is really neat, and I really enjoy that part of it. And you get to eat a lot more food. Right after this, I’m going to McDonald’s and I’ll probably eat tons of hamburgers and I couldn’t do that with track and field at all.”
Besides getting to lift weights and eat plenty of McDonald’s hamburgers, there is another aspect to this year’s Winter Olympics that has Robinson especially grateful: the Russian people.
“They say that Kentuckians are friendly, and that southern hospitality is amazing,” Robinson says. “I think Kentucky is the friendliest state in the whole U.S., but the Russian people are just fantastic.”
Robinson says that at the opening ceremonies, there was a group of around 20 or 30 Russians chanting “U.S.A, U.S.A.!” as Robinson and the rest of the American athletes walked by. “The Russian people have been extraordinary,” he says. “They’ve been overwhelmingly supportive.”
The men’s bobsledding events begin on Feb. 16-17 and 22-23, and until then, Robinson will be preparing for his Olympic debut.
In the meantime, Robinson wants everyone back home to know just how much their support means to him. “If it weren’t for your patience and your love, there’s no way I’d be here today,” Robinson says. “I’ve received upwards of a thousand messages from people that I’ve somehow helped, but know that you’ve helped me so much more and I’m so appreciative. I can’t wait to get back to the Bluegrass State.”