Balancing Dreams and Parenthood: The Inspiring Journey of the New Parents of Team USA

by Regan Cook

Alix Klineman dives for the ball during the semifinal match against Sarah Sponcil and Kelly Claes on August 22, 2021
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Parenthood, at its core, is a deeply human adventure—one that tests resilience, patience and love in profound ways. The balancing act of caring for a newborn while managing the demands of life is one of the toughest and most rewarding journeys available to us. 


Now, imagine adding another layer to this journey: juggling parenthood with your elite athletic career as you train to compete at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.   


Olympic gold medalist Alix Klineman, who became a mother in 2023, eagerly stepped into this new chapter of her life. While she was excited to start a family, she was also aware that this decision meant taking a temporary step back from her life as an elite athlete. After welcoming her son Theo in June, Klineman was determined to return to the sport she loved, despite the many new challenges that came with it.   


While speaking at a U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Foundation event hosted by the Women’s Circle, a group dedicated to uplifting and empowering female athletes, she felt compelled to share her story. 

Emphasizing the struggle she faced, she said, "If every time a female athlete wants to have a baby, they feel like they have to retire, that’s not a future we want for women’s sports. We can change that; we just need more resources." 


Klineman’s story resonated with athletes and Team USA supporters alike, sparking a collective desire among the community to make a difference. Recognizing the challenges Team USA’s parents face, the USOPF Women’s Circle introduced the Team USA New Family Fund, an initiative aimed at providing essential funding, support and resources for Team USA’s new parents.  


Bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor echoed Klineman’s call to action. With her husband’s job demanding extensive travel and bobsled requiring international competition and training, the logistical planning became incredibly difficult. Yet amidst the challenges, the five-time Olympic medalist and mother of two is determined to find balance. 


Today, as she travels through Europe with a bobsled in tow and her two young children by her side, she embodies the message that being a mother doesn’t mean giving up your dreams.  


“If I’m going to give 100% to bobsled, then I’m going to give 100% to my kids too,” Meyers Taylor said. “The days where my kids sleep through the night, I go really hard in my training. On the days where I’m up four times throughout the night, I have to back off my workout a little bit. You just have to make the puzzle pieces fit. It’s all about adjusting.”  


Teammate Jasmine Jones shared a similar sentiment, saying, “When I came back from my pregnancy, I just had to figure it out. I had to think, ‘How can I improve myself? How can I do better?’ There were times when I would be outside doing strides in the parking lot, with my daughter sitting outside in her car seat watching.”  

As inspiring as they are, Meyers Taylor, Jones and other Team USA parents also demonstrate the difficulty of navigating parenthood as an elite athlete. 


“Having access to resources is the only way that motherhood will work for me as an elite athlete,” Klineman said. “It takes a lot of support to perform well with a baby. It takes even more support than before.” 

With additional backing, Team USA’s parents could reach even greater heights.   


The fund will provide one-time grants to these hardworking athletes, helping to alleviate the financial strain associated with costs like childcare, infant supplies and feeding support. The fund’s goal is to ensure that every Team USA athlete can truly embrace the joys of parenthood without worrying their career as an elite athlete.   


By contributing to the Team USA New Family Fund, supporters will play a vital role in empowering these extraordinary athletes on their journey as parents and competitors. With philanthropic support, the Team USA New Family Fund will begin to administer its first grants to athletes this spring. 


“I just hope that in five or ten years, or even sooner, that there are resources already built in for women,” Klineman said. “When I think about the next female athlete that will go through this, or the next beach volleyball athlete, I want more for them.” 

To learn more about how to support Team USA athletes like Klineman, Meyers Taylor and Jones, visit give.teamusa.org

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