Daring comes naturally to Kim Donaldson ’16. Before becoming assistant director of admissions at Colby, the Colorado native enjoyed one of the most notable athletic careers at the College, both for excellence in her chosen sports, and in those she picked up—quite literally—along the way.
The shot put, for example. In the span of a few months, Donaldson became one of the nation’s best, after only picking up the throwing sport during her last semester at Colby. She wasn’t ready to go into athletic retirement, she said at the time. So, she challenged herself with something brand new.
In doing so, she found what Will Barron, Colby’s throwing coach, called “absurd success” and placed among the best in Division III. “I’ve never seen an athlete like her come through here,” Barron told the Morning Sentinel.
Few would have faulted Donaldson—with so much success on her résumé—for taking a well-deserved break after graduating. But just as she was driven to throw her senior year, her post-Colby athletic dare meant learning to push—into a new sport with a distinctly northward vibe: the bobsled.
In July 2017 Donaldson returned to Colorado to try and reach the pinnacle of American athletic achievement: the U.S. Olympic roster, as a member of the women’s bobsled team. “I was chosen out of 4,000 athletes around the country to try out for a spot,” she says. “They only selected 90 athletes and within women’s bobsled, and I was one of nine chosen.”
Before coming to Colby, a friend who was a U.S. Luge team competitor remarked that she had the build for bobsled. The observation stuck, so when the opportunity arose after Colby, she went for it.
“I chose to pursue the sport as a way to continue my athletic career and go after my potential in a different way,” she says. “I wanted to do something invigorating and unlike anything I’d ever done before.”
It worked. The U.S. Bobsled federation chose her to tryout for the U.S. team, with an added bonus: Her tryout was captured by NBC Sports as part of a special feature called “Scouting Camp: Next Olympic Hopeful,” which appeared in August. (That’s her, lifting at 51:43.)
Her training regimen emerged from a chance meeting with Lanell Beckles, Colby’s former strength and conditioning coach.
“He helped me to recognize and reach my potential in the weight room and as a power athlete,” Donaldson says. “Lanell was so selfless to help me in this pursuit.”
While she had an amazing experience, Donaldson, unfortunately, tore her hamstring and injured both of her hip flexors during the tryout. She was not able to continue in the competition.
“I still hit personal records and recorded numbers in categories that beat my competitors,” she says. “ The [head] of [U.S.] bobsled and the head coach were aware of these injuries, but still noted my potential and performance.”
All athletes know that injuries are a part of sports—what happens next is most important. When daring comes naturally, as is does for Donaldson, the choice is clear: Find a way to succeed, even if the U.S. Olympic team becomes out of reach.
“I’ll be training over the next 10 months,” she says. “And another option I have is to look into trying out for the Jamaican National Bobsled team because I have dual citizenship.”
It seems like nothing will stop Donaldson from continuing to dare to achieve greater heights—which was central to her experience at Colby.
“So many people from the Colby community have supported me the along the way,” she says. “That encouragement has kept me moving forward.”