It takes a village: Teachers that inspire Olympians

Michael Barrett  //  Feb 4, 2014

It takes a village: Teachers that inspire Olympians

Every child has dreams; however, it’s the supportive adults in their lives that help turn those dreams into reality.

Teachers are and will be some of the most important people in your child’s life.

As we all anticipate our U.S.A. athletes compete for gold at the Olympic Games, Scholastic received inspiring quotes from this year’s Olympians on their favorite teachers. It was amazing to see how greatly these teachers inspired these athletes.

Thanks to all the teachers out there who will inspire the next Olympian, CEO, humanitarian and role model of tomorrow. Enjoy this sampling of quotes from Team U.S.A.


Amanda Kessel, Women's Hockey

“[My English teacher] Gordie Stafford [… ]He was [an] extremely motivational guy [and] always had a positive spin to every situation in life.”

Arielle Gold, Snowboarding (Halfpipe/Slopestyle)

“Mrs. Kopatz, 3rd Grade.  She was one of the nicest teachers I had ever had, and she loved animals.”

Ashley Wagner, Women's Figure Skating

“Ms. Mattewson [my English teacher] … taught me the passion for reading, including the classics.”

Bobby Brown,Freeskiing (Slopestyle)

“Mrs. Patterson, 3rd Grade.  During class one day she asked us all to write down our wildest hopes and aspirations. Fast-forward 8 years [later and] I received my list of goals in the mail after I won my first XGames.  She recognized my passion before most and reminded me that I can do anything I put my mind to.”

Chris Mazdzer, Men's Singles Luge

“I would have to say my third grade teacher Mrs. Baker was the most influential teacher that I had.  She taught us everything that was required [...] but then went above and beyond. […] She created projects and assignments that let us branch out into the creative realm in order find the answer.  I remember making my mom buy all of these science books because I wanted to learn more […]  I wanted to [be] challenged.”

Elana Meyers, Bobsled

“Ms. Oliver […] was my first grade teacher in Chicago. […] I remember looking up to her as a Black woman. […] she was a great teacher.”

Erika Brown, Curling

“Mr. Buchanan [from] Sennett Middle School. He treated us like we mattered and instilled in us  that we make a lot of important choices.  One of the most important lessons he taught us was choosing our friends wisely.”

Gracie Gold, Women’s Figure Skating

“My favorite teacher growing up was Coach D (short for Diane). She was my elementary school gym teacher. […] Good sportsmanship and trying to do one’s best are the important lessons she stresses. […] She emphasized the importance of being fit and healthy for life.”

Gus Kenworthy,  Freeskiing (Halfpipe/Slopestyle)

“In school, math was always one of my least favorite subjects but [Mr. Lambert] made it fun [and] it was my favorite class to go to.”

Jeremy Abbott, Men’s Figure Skating

“My 3rd and 4th grade teacher, Bobbie Seilenfreund, was my favorite teacher. […] It was never solely book learning. Since I was 5 I knew I wanted to be a skater. She was always incredibly supportive and told me she knew someday she would watch me in the Olympics.”

John Daly, Skeleton

“My 9th grade math teacher Mr. Murphy […] at Smithtown High School.  He took 15 [minutes] every day at my lunch to make sure that I understood the material that was being discussed in class.  It showed me that I can learn and I am smart.  He also showed me what a real teacher should be. […] He knew how to deal with me and did not kick me out of class like most other teachers.”

 Jocelyne Lamoureux, Women’s Hockey

“Mrs. Carney, 7th grade English teacher. I got an ‘A’ in her class, but […] she told me I could do better because I hadn’t done so hot on a test. Even though I had an ‘A,’ she expected more from me and it made me realize that sometimes good isn’t good enough, your best is what is good enough. “

Julie Chu, Women’s Hockey

“My 6th grade English teacher was Mrs. Pine. […] She was incredibly sweet and soft-spoken, but you could tell she was passionate about teaching and cared about her students.”

JR Celski, Speedskating  (Short Track)

 “Mr. Eilertson. 8th Grade Conditioning / Phys. Ed.  He taught me how to push my boundaries in exercise even if I wasn't the best at it, to realize that if I worked hard enough it would benefit me.”

Kaitlyn Farrington, Snowboarding (Halfpipe)

“My first grade teacher [Miss. Fenwick]. I just remember she was the nicest lady ever!  I loved going to school because of her.”

Laurenne Ross, Alpine Skiing

“Mr. Hakanson taught orchestra (violin and cello), music composition [and] theory.  He always believed in me, pushed me to do what I loved and provided me with much of the knowledge I now have about music and so much more.”

Leanne Smith,Alpine Skiing

“Peter Ames.[…] He taught history in the 8th grade [and] coached my softball team in high school. He pushed me to become a bit more of perfectionist in sport. He expected a lot from me, and taught me to be responsible and eventually a good leader within the team.”

Meryl Davis, Women’s Figure Skating / Ice Dance

“My favorite teacher growing-up was my 2nd grade teacher […] Mrs. Meylergel. I remember her class being the first in which I felt comfortable at school.  As a shy child […] she helped me to find school enjoyable.”

Noelle Pikus-Pace, Skeleton

“Mr Lott. 7th grade history. […] He could see potential in students that others might overlook. […] Even when I had an ‘A’ in the class, he pushed me to learn more and made me realize that learning wasn’t about a grade, it was about what you could take with you and build on through life.”

Sarah Hendrickson, Ski Jumping

“Alison Moschetti, 4th grade. She broke me out of my shell!”

Stacey Cook, Alpine Skiing

“Miss LeBeouf (Shia LeBeouf's sister) taught chemistry. She made learning fun and created an environment that was productive and easy for all students [to join].”

Steve Langton, Bobsled

“Like anything else, I see writing as a learned skill, which needs to be encouraged, nurtured and practiced. My freshman English teacher at St. John’s prep school, Mr. John Roy, was extremely influential in the sense that he helped strengthen my writing skills and teach me not only appreciate literature, but to understand the power of words.” 

Steven Nyman, Alpine Skiing

“Mrs. Nelson-my fourth grade teacher at Orchard elementary.  She made things fun, hands-on and I remember really enjoying learning.”

Rico Roman, Sled Hockey (Paralympian)

“Sister Margaret, who was my 3rd grade teacher. [She] taught me how to focus on my strengths in school instead of doing things strictly by the textbook. She really taught me how to think outside of the box, be creative in how I learned, and made school fun for me.”

photo credit: audiolucistore