By Peter Jerome
I have done this dozens of times in the last 10 years. A last minute trip to the airport to see the team off. More for selfish reasons than necessity. A chance to have some unhurried quiet time with my daughter Jessica and the other girls who have become my extended family of sorts over the years.
This week was no different save for one minor detail – the team was heading to the Olympics. The OLYMPICS. REALLY!
I don’t think the magnitude of what is happening has hit us yet. Just another trip. I overslept. Jess was sprawled in one of those linked lounge seats working on a crossword. Sarah Hendrickson messing around on her computer. Lindsey Van sitting on the floor with a big purple pillow. Coach Alan Alborn and I were making small talk about airplanes when it happened. A nicely dressed stranger made his way over to the group and a little nervously said that he knew who they were. He had seen them on television and in the news recently and told them what they had done was spectacular and noble and wished them success at the Games. The girls perked right up, put what they were doing aside, and thanked the man for his words. As he walked away there was kind of this awkward nanosecond. Yes, today was different.
I felt like it was time for me to leave. Jessica reluctantly agreed to have her picture taken with her Dad. I made her put her new Olympic team jacket on for the picture. Sarah took my phone and snapped a couple of quick photos, but not before telling Jess to fix her hair (Thank you Sarah).
As I walked down the concourse, a brief moment of what was finally happening hit m. I so wished longtime teammates Alissa Johnson and Abby Hughes were going. I could not help but reflect on how far the team had come over the years. An image of Naval Academy plebes came to mind – all of them linking arms in tiers allowing the next group to stand on their shoulders until one, and it really didn’t matter which one, knocked the dixie cup off the top of the tall greased obelisk.
As I write this I am sitting on a plane heading in THAT direction. I am so looking forward to seeing not only our girls, but the women ski jumpers from all nations march into opening ceremonies and celebrate the moment that a small army of women has been fighting for for decades. It really doesn’t matter who wins next week. They’ve all already won.
Peter Jerome is father to Jessica Jerome and is the founder of the nonprofit Women's Ski Jumping USA. "Jumper Dads at Sochi" is a periodic blog by Peter Jerome and Bill Hendrickson who came to watch their daughters make history at the Sochi Olympic Winter Games.