Holly Brooks was one of the first names I thought of when I started putting together names for my “Dream it. Do it.” project. If you’re not familiar with her story, check it out here; basically, she transformed herself from coach to Olympian when she began pursuing her dream.
I met Holly for the first time at Whitman College when I was a sophomore and she was a freshman. Even then, she was intensely present; Holly is one of those people who really, truly listens – you can almost feel her focus when she turns her attention to you, which could be intimidating except that she has one of the most infectious, joyful smiles ever (the gorgeous grin in the photo above is not just reserved for winning races).
Holly was doing great things for our community even before she inspired countless Alaskans on her journey to the Olympics. When she first moved to Anchorage after college, she worked at Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking and coached the West High ski team. From there she began coaching full-time at APU – just think about all the skiers whose lives she touched, and the excitement they must have felt as she pursued her own XC-sking career!
Currently, Holly is involved in two programs, Fast and Female, which creates empowerment through sport, and Z Girls, which envisions “a world where all girls live with ZERO limitations today, so that they realize their full potential tomorrow,” as well as working on a masters of counseling. Just a few things to keep her busy on top of the countless hours of skiing and cross training she logs…
We connected over Skype a couple of weeks ago to talk about achieving dreams, and what she’s up to now, which is taking on the FIS World Loppet Marathon Tour – she’s the only North American pursuing this goal, and as part of the process, scored a spot on a professional Norwegian team. Skype bonus: I got a tour of the character-filled Hotel Ancora where she and her husband, Rob, were staying in Val di Fiemme, Italy; read her blog post, The Long March…aka, Italy’s Marcialonga, for details about the amethyst cave steam room and more…
Holly’s entrée into marathon racing is due in part to the sheer force of her drive and determination (she calls it being “headstrong”; I call it grit) and in part of because of her self-described shamelessness. She doesn’t have any qualms about asking for help, or connecting with strangers – this openness sometimes puts her in uncomfortable situations, but she says it almost always pays off through new friends and unexpected opportunities.
For Holly, her dreams are always evolving. She lives for feeling excitement deep in her chest, the anticipation of something new and unknown. She doesn’t like the feeling of stagnation and as she says, you never know what’s going to happen and can’t waste the time you have: “Dream it up, go out and do it! Even if you don’t achieve your goal, it will be an amazing growing experience and you won’t regret it.”
Holly doesn’t know where she’s going to sleep during the next couple days, which race she’ll compete in, or even where she’s going, but she does know that she doesn’t regret the journey and wakes up every morning excited to be doing what she’s doing. Before we hang up, she shares a quote from W. Clement Stone: “Always aim for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
Want to learn more about exceptional achievers like Holly, and the commonalities in energy, motivation, and mindset leveraged during the transformation from dreamer to doer? Attend “Dream it. Do it.” at TEDxAnchorage on March 28th in Loussac Library’s Wilda Marston Theater.