Minot Air Force Base - American300 returns to this Air Force Global Strike Command Base to share stories of alternative thinking and never quitting. With ESPN Winter XGames medals and one of the fastest qualifying runs recorded at the Olympics, Erin Nemec was looking at the potential of bringing home Olympic Gold for Canada at the Torino Italy Winter Games.
The problem was that her ‘teammates’ had other plans for the 5’ 2” blonde, blue eyed wunderkind who unlike her teammates made the team as a walk on. To make matters worse, Nemec had qualified for the team at a western event, far away from her teammates snowboarding headquarters of Quebec.
“Her teammates turned on her as the Canadian media teams swarmed her after the qualifying run in Tornio,” says Kevin ‘Cacuts’ Nemec, Erin’s husband, adding, “They turned their backs on this ‘outsider’ to ‘their team’ and did everything possible to alienate Erin, make her feel unwanted and undeserving.”
Not exactly the type of pre-race environment that breads success
In the end, the superstar snowboard boardercross racer from British Columbia ended up not qualifying for the finals. “It gets even better, the teams french speaking equipment and wax technician had her run on a backup board during the qualifications, he convinced her that saving her best snowboard for the finals was the way to go.” says Kevin, who at the time was coaching America’s top snowboarders out of Colorado far away from the drama unfolding half a world away in Italy.
After the Olympic Games, Erin made the decision to leave the Canadian team and finished off her career training and traveling with the US Snowboard Team. To this day she is still the winningest female ESPN Winter XGames Snowboard Boarder Cross racer.
“I learned a lot about what it means to be a teammate, support others and create an environment of success,” says Erin who now is a mother of two boys that she and Kevin are raising in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. “It really comes down to trust and I just didn’t trust my teammates or coaching staff to look out for my best interests anymore.” she added.
Trust is a powerful word. Erin and Kevin will be joined in visiting Airmen of the 5th Bomb Wing and 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base, by Navy SEAL retired Chief Mikal Vega. After getting blown up and torn up countless times, Vega sought out medical treatment. Like many Service Members he found himself surrounded by prescription medication without the willpower to avoid spiking the effects with alcohol.
“I was killing myself slowly and the crazy thing is that because the drugs were making me numb I didn’t even realize it,” says Mikal, who has become a successful major motion picture actor and now director of the veterans support nonprofit ‘Vital Warrior’ that he founded.
With pain in his back that was debilitating, Mikal took the advice of a teammate and entered the world of Rolfing message therapy. Instantly the effects of the deep muscle therapy and muscle/nerve alignment started to release him from the grips of pain. He then added acupuncture and over time his pain diminished, his mind started to clear, and he was able to ween himself off the medications and alcohol. He then entered the world of Kundalini Yoga as taught by yogi Bhajan.
There was a time when as a SEAL I would have laughed at doing any type of Yoga
Today, Mikal’s daily routine starts off with 1- 2 hrs of concentrated Kundalini Yoga techniques... it’s simply how he starts his days off no matter where he is or what he’s doing. It can get kind of loud and it isn’t always without pain, but it’s one of the major reasons why Vega is a 22 year retired veteran and not a 22 a day statistic, referring to the most recent data suggesting that 22 veterans commit suicide a day in America.
“We’ve been working with the Airmen of Minot Air Force Base for 4 years now, they know our nonprofit is all about sharing stories of never quitting,” says Robi Powers, the founder and tours host, he adds, “This base has had over 20 different guests share personal stories and experiences with a goal of showing that no matter what life throws at us, we can push through the adversity and realize success, that there’s always cause for hope in a better tomorrow.”
Follow the monthly base tours around the world at: www.American300.org
American300 is a all volunteer 501c3 nonprofit, non-government organization with a mission of supporting the Chief of Staffs Total Force Fitness objectives. No federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is ever intended or implied - American300.org