Aja Evans peels off the uniform
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There are no ways around those G-forces. It basically feels like someone is jumping on your lower back. The one thing about being a brakeman: You're a shock absorber. If you tense up and you hit something, you can make the back of the sled skid.
As a woman, you can't cop out. When I was training for bobsled, I trained with my brother [Vikings DT Fred Evans], Matt Forte, Tim Jennings and a bunch of guys from the Bears. They're like "If you want to train with the big dogs, you better handle it." They made it fun, but competitive. That's what I always liked about their mentality: No matter how hard they can go on the field, off the field it's all love.
I was trying to stay with them pound-for-pound. I even went out on the field with them. I don't think I'd be a receiver -- they said I'm too girlie when I catch the ball. I'm like, "I don't want to break my nails."
It's like athletics just run in my genes. I have a very seriously athletic family. My mom was a track and field athlete. My father was a swimmer. My brother plays DT for the Vikings. My uncle is Gary "Sarge" Matthews, who is the famous MLB player and coach from the Cubs to the Phillies. And my cousin, Gary Matthews Jr., is a phenomenal player as well.
I became an Olympic bronze medalist in a sport I only participated in for two years. I was a sprinter growing up, and I was able to use my power and bursts and strength within my legs to transition into shot put and then used that to transition into bobsled.
I came in wanting to take over. But it got hard because you have the veterans in the sport and they feel threatened by all the new girls. The one thing about this sport is you're a team. At the end of the day, you still need four people on each sled to move it, and there was only nine of us that traveled throughout the season.
My first day ever on the ice was the week of team trials. There's no way to get your feet wet when it comes to the ice part; you literally have to just go all out. Nothing compares to your own reaction to it.
The unknown kind of kills you. Especially when you're a first-timer and you don't really understand the curves of the track or know what to expect. Afterwards I called my mom, "I just went down the bobsled for the first time. Did we tell too many people? Can I just leave?" And she's like, "You better go back to the top of that track and figure it out!"
It's not as bad as it looks. I was nervous about making it into the sled. Just looking at the ice was intimidating at the start: "Does it just drop off at the end?" But that's what's weird about the sport. Loading into the sled and going so fast is not as bad as it looks.People always compliment me on my legs. Sometimes it's creepy, other times it's cool.`
I was Matt Forte's training partner for a while. He said he liked working out with me because I could stick with him. I could step right into an OTA, I just got to learn how to read the playbook.
I don't like riding roller coasters, which is weird. I don't like the feeling in my stomach. But with bobsled, I don't really feel that drop. I don't worry about any of that stuff; I'm trying to see if we won, if we set a start record, if we did this and that.
People always compliment me on my legs. Sometimes it's creepy, other times it's cool. Those football players all think they have this amazing idea that we'll have the most phenomenal kids ever. And that's the worst pickup line ever.
There were times when I thought, "Oh, I look too muscular." And after a while I just got tired of it because I was hurting myself more than anybody else. When you learn to embrace it and accept it, then you become invincible.
"Everything feels like it's going wrong, pass the ice cream." I'm a woman, and sometimes we just like comfort food. When you're an athlete, you have to realize how much you eat. You have to remember the big picture.
I have reminders anywhere I go. When I was heading into the Olympics, I had Olympic gold medals plastered everywhere: on my iPad, my iPhone, my iPod, my MacBook, literally everywhere I looked I had a reminder of what I'm going for and why. I think that helps you to stay on track.