Many schools in Burke County welcomed a two-time Olympic medalist and former pro-wrestler to speak to students about his life story and why pursuing dreams is so important.
Chip Minton, who was on the United States bobsled team in the 1994 and 1998 Winter Olympics , came to the North Carolina School for the Deaf on Thursday morning to offer up encouragement for students. He also spoke at several other schools within the Burke County Public Schools system.
To begin, he asked students to raise their hands if they had a dream of what they wanted to be when they grew up.
“The most important thing you will ever do is to believe in that dream,” Minton said. “No. 2 is to surround yourself with encouraging people … stay away from people who try to get you to do things you are not supposed to do.”
He told students that their friends are like elevators in that they can either bring them up or bring them down.
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“I remember when I was 12 years old, it was my dream to be a body builder,” Minton said. “I went and told some people that that was my dream and you know what they did … they started laughing at me.”
He told students never to let anyone ruin their dreams if they tell them they a re not fast enough, strong enough or smart enough .
When the opportunity of bobsledding came around , he again was told that he was not good enough to make it.
“Was I going to let someone who didn’t even know me steal my dream?” Minton asked. “Absolutely not … I ended up making the 1994 Winter Olympic team, the World Cup team and the National Team and it was incredible.”
He now travels around the world speaking to students representing Sports World, a company who sends professional athletes around the world to be motivational speakers.
“Even though I was doing some amazing things , I still had no purpose in life,” he said. “There was no joy or freedom in my life.”
He ended up getting involved in alcohol and drugs and losing his career in bobsledding, wrestling and body building, he said.
“I lost my wife, my family, my cars, my house and I ended up in an $18 dollar a night hotel room,” he said.
Minton immediately told students that if anyone offered them drugs or alcohol to turn and run away.
He remembers waking up at 4 a.m. one morning at the hotel and sitting on the edge of his bed crying.
“Tears were rolling down my face, my T -shirt was wet and I just didn’t know what to do,” he said. “I was afraid to ask for help and I thought about taking my own life.”
He thought about two things that night, his mother and the unconditional love she had for him , and he thought of his younger brother, he said.
“When he (his brother) was 17 years old, I was 18 and he told me about an incredible decision that he made for his life,” Minton said. “I saw his life radically change and that he had purpose in his life. I wanted what he had, but I was afraid to ask for it, but I did ask him what he did and he told me he asked Jesus Christ to come into his life.”
He walked back to his bed in his hotel room and prayed to God, he said.
“As I prayed a simple prayer that night, for the first time in my life I opened my heart and I cried out to God , ‘Please help me,’” Minton said to the students. “He has come into my life, changed my life and given me purpose.”
Minton was able to turn his life around and decided to go into full-time ministry.
“I never dreamed years ago that God was going to take me down the road that I am on because on my own I am nothing but , on God’s plan , I get to travel around the world and live an incredible life.”
After Minton was done singing , many students asked him questions about his career and were able to receive photographs with Minton’s autograph.
For more information about Sports World, visit www.sportsworld.org.
Staff Writer Jonelle Bobak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828-432-8907.