Val is the oldest of six sisters and growing up in a family that big, molded her into the person she is today. From an early age, Val loved the hype of competition. She was an extremely active kid, played three sports in high school and went on to play volleyball at Adrian College. In the last semester of college, she was nominated and invited to play in the Scottish Open overseas but returned home after the competition to begin grad school.
Being an athlete all her life, when she started grad school it felt like something was missing. She was an athlete at her core and struggled when she wasn’t involved in sports. At a grad school conference, she noticed her peer’s Team USA bag and immediately became intrigued. Taking her peer’s advice, she tried a bobsledding combine and she loved it. Val and her teammate moved to Utah to put in some serious training. They were athletes all day, every day for a whole year. Ultimately, she didn’t make the World Cup but she didn’t care. Instead, she earned an amazing opportunity to represent Team USA in North America’s Cup Circuit.
“Your ability to adapt when you lose really shows who you are as a person.” - Val
Next, she set her sights on obtaining her Ph.D. and after being turned down by the first few programs, she was determined to prove wrong all the people who told her “No.” She knew that if she could get in front of someone to share her story, she would win them over. Val was eventually accepted at Wayne State University for her Ph.D. program, but being a student wasn’t enough.
Again, her athletic drive came in full force. She wanted to try competing in something new, so she tried an Olympic lifting class. She began training and competing for fun 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, but after getting called for three consecutive press-outs (where you jerk the bar overhead, but your arms aren't fully extended, and therefore she was disqualified), she decided to focus 100% of her attention on her Ph.D. 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.” - Val