Making an Olympic team is what sports dreams are made of, but for Sylvia Hoffman, who called North Texas home for much of her life, the journey to a Winter Olympics has been anything but conventional.
“I actually made my first national team just weeks after picking up bobsledding,” Hoffman said. “It’s actually pretty crazy.”
Not just hard to believe, but also highly unlikely, considering she spent much of her life as a basketball player. She played for Bowie High School in Arlington, where she graduated from. Then went on to play at Louisiana State University during her undergraduate studies.
All of this as she dealt with the pain and setbacks of a scoliosis diagnosis when she was just 12 years old.
“I was able to just kind of keep my faith and just put on foot in front of the other and believe in myself. I know I can do anything I want to accomplish in life. Family and friends still say to me they remember when I found out that I had it and they are like, ‘Look at your now,’” Hoffman said.
When she realized professional basketball wasn’t going to be in the cards, she moved on to something she thought she could compete in internationally.
Just a few years ago, she was discovered by U.S. Bobsledding when she competed on NBC’s Next Olympic Hopeful. The rest was history.
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Since her career has been riddled with adversity, training in a global pandemic has just meant one more hurdle she has had to overcome.
“It’s been hard. If we test positive, then we are kind of put on this quarantine suspension until we can show that we aren’t infecting anyone else. That means time missed [from training and competitions],” Hoffman said.
Hoffman spoke to NBC 5 during an extended training stint in Germany.
The pandemic has complicated that training, but it’s not the only thing making headlines. The announcement that the United States would hold a diplomatic boycott of the Games over human rights concerns made international news. Hoffman said it can’t be a distraction.
“It's like, thanks for letting us know. But at the same time, it’s like, full steam ahead. It’s so much going on here and we can take a moment out and see what’s going on and say let’s keep that in the back of our mind, but what’s going on tomorrow is performance. It’s about taking care of business and doing what we need to do,” Hoffman said.
The United States bobsled team is expected to be announced in mid-January.