Journey To The 2010 Winter Olympics

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Meet Jay Beckner

Quick Facts

-I was born in December 1978 in Bowling Green, KY to J. David and Beverly Kaye Beckner. I have two siblings, a younger brother and sister.

-I grew up playing lots of sports, but focused on golf. I earned 5 varsity letters and a 1996 State Team Championship at Bowling Green High School.

-I attended Transylvania University on athletic (golf) and academic scholarships and earned a BA in Chemistry with a minor in Business Administration (B+ average).

-Following graduation in May 2001, I went to work for Hilliard Lyons in Louisville, KY as a Financial Consultant (stock broker). On the heels of a tough market environment in 2002, I went to work for National City Bank in January 2003 and remained there until life got a bit more interesting the next year...

Alaska Bound!

In April of 2004, tired of the grind and not exactly sure what I was working for, I packed up my life, sold my car and bought a one-way ticket to Alaska. I was sure that I didn't want to be one to dream of adventure, but never have the courage to seek it. After a short stay in Seattle and a two day ferry ride from Bellingham, Washington, I disembarked in Ketchikan with eyes as wide as the stampeders’ heading north during the Klondike Gold Rush. It was a cold rainy Sunday morning and I didn’t have a place to stay, but that didn’t depress my desire to explore. Under the weight of a heavy pack, I walked downtown and found most of the buildings still boarded up, deserted, laying in wait for the hoards of tourists set to descend on the First City. I had gone north thinking I'd earn money in the fisheries, but I quickly learned that the commercial fishing business wasn’t what it used to be and tourism offered some equally interesting opportunities. After just a few days in town, I found work as a Pilot’s Assistant with Family Air Tours, a one floatplane/ one pilot company.

It was a very introspective summer; I looked for answers on the floatplane docks, out in the wilderness of Southeast Alaska and in the pages of classics. The epitome of my thoughts that summer came early on in this journal entry:

"5/7/2004 2:40pm
As I sit here, nearly atop Deer Mountain, batting away the bugs, without shirt or shoes, among the snow drifts, listening to a quiet wind, breathing clean air with a hint of cedar, under a partly cloudy sky blue heaven and above the cruise ship laden tourist town, I reflect back on a week of exhilaration, loneliness, self-exploration, self doubt. Am I making good choices? Simultaneously, I read this passage from Dickens' Great Expectations:
That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.

I think back over my life, but find few events, people or things that continue to bind me. After all, I am sitting atop an Alaskan mountain with very little responsibility waiting on me at the rock’s base. What I do remember are mistakes that I have made, harsh words that have made me gentle, people I love who make me care, successes, have there been failures? I’m gaining some life perspective. Still trying to understand what makes me tick. You really can feel something up here. I keep looking around for the burning bush. Maybe when I descend I’ll have a long gray beard and long hair and the clarity of understanding and purpose—maybe not."

At season’s end, I took the long way home aboard trains in Canada and the United States. I expanded my horizons through travel in Europe (England, Scotland, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, France) that fall. I continued to meet people along the way who were eager to share their experiences and listen to mine. I believe it is through that kind of interaction with the world that I began to learn my place, reaffirm my values and gather the focus necessary to chase down my dreams.

Following a short bout with unemployment, I returned to Alaska in April 2005 to lead mountain bike tours for Sockeye Cycle in Skagway. It was another great season, but in a different way. The inward focus that was a necessary part of the 2004 season began to turn outward. I was passionate about entertaining the people on my tours; I felt it was my duty to put on a good show, honored to be part of their Alaskan experiences. I shared some great times with close friends including treks to Laughton Glacier and Goat Lake, hiking the 33 mile historic Chilkoot Trail, the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay and complete domination of golf in the Yukon Territory.


On December 31, 2005, I moved back to Louisville, KY to pursue an MBA at Indiana University Southeast on a Graduate Assistantship.

Finding Skeleton: Passionate Pursuit of the Unknown... Again!

People ask me how I got the idea to pursue Skeleton in the first place. I usually just say that I saw it in the Olympics last February and simply decided to do it. That's true but the reasoning goes deeper. I think subconsciously I'd been searching for something that I could really wrap my mind around and give my absolute all. Although I’ve always been a good athlete, I've never really known my true athletic potential. At age 27, I don't have much time (although the Skeleton Gold Medalist in Torino was 39) to find out. I believe I found the confidence to test myself against the best through a lifetime of sports and competition coupled with my travels/ growing experiences during the last couple years. Like seeking adventure in Alaska, I don't want to be one that looks back and wonders, could I have done it?

Also, I have pondered since 9/11 ways that I can represent my country. I admire the symbolism of the Olympics and those dedicated athletes who give their all for the love of sport and country. I am an emotional person and am moved by the successes that result from heart, passion, creativity and hard work through adversity. I have really come to respect those who act courageously/ selflessly/ righteously because it is their duty as a soldier, firefighter, teacher or family person. I want to be another positive success story that embodies some of these qualities and ideals. I recognize that the journey is what it's all about, but I'm also focused on the prize. I believe the Olympic journey is not only about becoming the best athlete you can be, but also striving for excellence in all aspects of your life.


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