This Small American Town Has Turned Out 11 Olympic Athletes
There must be something in the water!
If your child is an athlete who dreams of one day competing in the Olympics, then you may want to move to Norwich, Vermont—because the small town has produced a whopping 11 Olympians. Since 1984, at least one member of the United States Olympic Team has hailed from Norwich. The athletes have competed in a number of sports, but not surprisingly, winter sports dominate for the competitors from this Northeastern town.
Here’s a look at the 11 Olympic athletes who call Norwich home.
The town’s very first Olympic athlete was the alpine skier Betsy Snite, who competed in the 1956 and 196o Olympics. Ski jumper Mike Holland competed in both the 1984 Winter Olympics and the 1988 Winter Olympics. His brothers, Joe Holland and Jim Holland, also skied in the Olympics. Tim Tereault is a three-time Olympian in Nordic combined skiing. Tetreault was encouraged in the sport by fellow Olympian and Norwich resident Mike Holland. Jeff Hastings was a 1984 Olympic ski jumper. Felix McGrath was an Alpine skier in the 1988 Winter Olympics.
Hannah Kearney won the Olympic Gold medal in moguls skiing at the 2010 Winter Olympics. She also took hold a Bronze medal in 2014. After winning the season-long world championship in the moguls, Kearney retired in 2015.
Andrew Wheating competed in the men’s 800m at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics. Wheating made his first Olympic team just three years after he started training seriously for track. The other Summer Olympics athlete from Norwich was Brett Heyl, who competed in the men’s kayak singles (slalom) at the 2004 Athens Games.
After retirement, when asked if there was anything he would change about his career, Wheating told Runner’s World, “No, honestly I wouldn’t. The things that happened in my career happened, and they made me who I am today. I’m thankful for what happened and what didn’t happen and I have no regrets on how it turned out.”
The fact that so many Olympians hail from this one small town is so unusual that it inspired a book on the subject, “Norwich: One Tiny Vermont Town’s Secret to Happiness and Excellence” by Karen Crouse. You’d think that a town that produced so many Olympic athletes would have a super-competitive culture where parents push kids to succeed.
But Crouse says it’s actually the opposite that has bred so many high-achievers: “The Norwich way gives kids ample space to discover their passions and pursue them for their own reasons and at their own pace,” Crouse writes.
What may differentiate Norwich from many other U.S. towns is that people don’t spend as much time in front of screens or at the office.
“It does not hurt that Norwich has poor cellular service, making its residents less tethered to their tablets and smartphones than many other Americans,” Crouse wrote in an article in The New York Times. “Or that many of the parents work near their homes in jobs that allow them to spend time with their kids—even leaving work early once a week to ski together.”
Whatever the reason, they’re obviously doing something right. Congratulations to all the amazing athletes from Norwich—we can’t wait to meet the next Olympian who comes from this small town!
[h/t: The New York Times]