If you look at the roster for America’s national bobsled team, you’d spot the name Nathan Gilsleider, hometown Claremore, Oklahoma. And then, if you’re anything like me, you’d say, “Huh? How is a guy from Oklahoma a competitive bobsledder? We didn’t even SEE snow last winter.”
Gilsleider is a Claremore native, a graduate of Claremore Christian School. During his time as a Warrior, he played baseball, basketball, and soccer, earning college scholarships in all three sports. He decided to focus on baseball at Eastern Oklahoma State College in McAlester. The plan was cut short during his sophomore year, when a shoulder injury sidelined Gilsleider’s MLB dreams.
Never one to let life’s obstacles slow him down, Gilsleider simply changed direction. He transferred to Oklahoma State University and decided that football would be a good fit for him. Read back over this and you’ll note that football isn’t mentioned. He’d never played football before. He used the “fake it till you make it” mentality, never letting on that he hadn’t even worn pads in his life. Nevertheless, he tried out and walked on as a Cowboy. He even scored some playing time alongside teammates Brandon Weeden, Dez Bryant, and Justin Blackmon.
While earning his bachelor’s degree in health promotion and education, Gilsleider nabbed an internship at the Michael Johnson Performance Center in a Dallas suburb. While there, he befriended Johnny Quinn, a former professional football player who had also been the victim of injuries and moved on to competitive bobsledding. Quinn pointed out that the skill set for bobsled is similar to football, in that it requires power, speed, and strength. He encouraged Gilsleider to try it out. And he did.
Gilsleider attended a combine in Colorado Springs, where his abilities were assessed by professionals. He scored second in the nation. The fall of 2015 marked his first season on Team USA.
He is currently training in Lake Placid, New York, and competing on the North American Cup Tour, which requires travel across Canada, namely Calgary and Whistler, with the season ending in the United States at Park City, Utah, and Lake Placid. Gilsleider spends his off-season at home in Verdigris, with his wife, Laura. The couple is expecting their first child early next year.
Olympic hopefuls like Gilsleider spend their days training, usually a minimum of eight hours per day, which means a regular job is out of the question. Athletes aren’t paid, either, which means they rely on donations to support themselves. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation and support a Claremore guy, here’s your chance! Make your check or money order payable to USABS-Athlete Training Fund and mail to:
Attn: Shannon Nelson
USA Bobsled & Skeleton
1631 Mesa Avenue Copper Bldg. Ste A
Colorado Springs, CO 80906
Do NOT put Nathan’s name on your check. Instead, include a separate note stating you prefer your funds be directed to: Nathan Gilsleider.
You can also donate online via RallyMe.com.
Let’s support Nathan Gilsleider so we can cheer him on in the Winter Olympics 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea! To keep up with Nathan’s adventures, visit his website at NGSliderUSA.com.