Growing up the oldest of six sisters, Val loved the hype of competition from an early age. She played three sports in high school and went on to play volleyball at Adrian College. After college, she was asked to play in the Scottish Open overseas, but returned home after the competition to begin grad school.
Val struggled when she was not involved in sports. At a grad school conference, she noticed her peer’s Team USA bag and became immediately intrigued. Taking her peer’s advice, she decided to try a bobsledding combine. She loved it. Her and a teammate ultimately moved to Utah for an entire year to train every day. She didn’t make the World Cup, but she earned the amazing opportunity to represent Team USA in North America’s Cup Circuit.
She next set her sights on obtaining her PhD. She was turned down by the first few programs; however, she knew if she could actually get in front of someone to discuss her drive and life experience, she could get into the program. She was eventually accepted to Wayne State University. Again, her athletic drive came knocking. She wanted to try competing in something new, so she decided to take an Olympic lifting class. She began competing in a few local meets and eventually scored high enough to make it to a regional meet for Team USA Weightlifting. Her goal was to score in the top 8; however, after getting called for three consecutive press-outs (a press-out is where you jerk the bar overhead, but your arms aren't fully extended or "locked out"), she decided to focus 100% of her attention on her PhD program.
"I think my purpose in life is to help inspire other people (male, female, athlete, non-athlete) to go after whatever’s in front of them. That’s what God created me to be is this person that pours into other people and I love that. So when I’m not pouring into other people, I feel like I’m doing something wrong.”