By 1st Lt. Katherine Ward
608th Air Operations Center
Everyone has a dream. Something they deem virtually impossible to achieve. Something that if the world was perfect and the stars were aligned, it could happen. If you were granted only one wish during your lifetime, that is what you would wish for. Something that, to most, will always remain a dream. That thing you brush under the rug and go on with your daily life trying to forget about. Instead, you do things that are expected of you like working 9-5 to pay the bills.
But, when you are really honest with yourself in your most vulnerable moments, you begin to dwell on your average life and wonder, “What if?”
Running in the Olympics is something I have dreamt about since I was a freshman in high school. To me, it still seems virtually impossible if I’m honest about it. It’s something that I hold so sacred and private, as if to protect the possibility so nothing could ruin it. I think about running in the Olympics every single day. It remains a seemingly haunting thought that I cannot seem to shake, and I do not really want to.
On Aug. 4, I was notified that I had been accepted into the Air Force World Class Athlete Program. Being accepted into this program will give me the opportunity to train full time while still serving in the Air Force. Ironically, the day I received my acceptance notification was exactly two years before the 2016 Olympics will kick off. Coincidence? I hope not! To be frank, I cried at my desk when I received the news. Something that I have been striving for most of my life is now one step closer! I was overjoyed and overwhelmed. It still feels so surreal. But more importantly, I am overly blessed.
I cannot describe how thankful I am to be given this opportunity. I have had, and still have, amazing coaches who have led and guided me to this point. They believed in me when I struggled to believe in myself. I owe so much to my loving family, especially my father, because no matter what my ambitions are or will be in life, my family loves me for the person I am. I am grateful for my awesome friends, who have been a crucial part of my foundation system, as well as old and current teammates. They are the people I draw strength and encouragement from every day.
During my short operational time in the Air Force thus far, I have had incredible support from my Air Force leadership like Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson and Col. Kirk Kimmett who have both served as amazing role models for me. I’ve also had other critical mentors like Lt. Col. Brian Maue who helped push me along the way. My amazing Louisiana running friends also inspired me as we all suffered running in humidity these past two years at Barksdale Air Force Base, La. Last, but definitely not least, I owe most of my success to my phenomenal husband. He’s my number one fan! I can only hope that I make everyone proud.
I hope my story inspires others, however, you do not need to be inspired by me — you need to be inspired by you! I know firsthand my biggest obstacle and enemy is myself. Cast away all the doubts you have built up around you, and prove to yourself that your dream is possible.
If I have learned anything along the way, it is that if you want something bad enough, you can get it. Or at least, you can give everything you have to accomplishing your dream so you will never have to wonder, “What if?”