Herriman track star-turned-bobsledder makes Olympic debut
HERRIMAN, Utah — Kaysha Love had dreams of one day going to the Olympics but in her dreams, there was no snow and ice. Not a fan of competing in the cold, she picked her college, in part, because of the warm weather. Now, she’s about to compete on the world’s biggest stage in some very cold temperatures.
In January she was named to the U.S.A. Bobsled & Skeleton Federation’s 2022 Beijing Olympic team, after competing in just six bobsled races.
“It was her rookie year. She was competing with three previous Olympians,” mom Stephanie Love said. “We were super nervous.”
Kaysha’s path to the Games definitely didn’t go the way her family expected.
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“At a young age, we sort of figured she was going to be something,” said her father, Kevin Love.
“I knew early on that she was extremely strong,” mom Stephanie added. “I mean, at three we were putting her in tumbling and then at five into gymnastics. She was teaching herself how to do back handsprings.”
Kaysha excelled in gymnastics, reaching a level 10 before injuries became too much. Her parents, both college athletes, encouraged her to give track and field a try. She took their breath away the second she left the starting blocks.
“Her first race out she almost breaks a 30-year record by one-hundredth of a second,” said Stephanie. “She never lost a race her entire high school career.”
Kaysha led the Herriman High School track team to four state titles and she recorded some of the fastest times ever for a female athlete.
“Gymnastics was my passion and track was just something that was going to be able to fulfill a dream of going to school and getting an education,” Kaysha said.
But Kaysha developed a new passion for sprinting and her speed earned her a spot on the team at the University of Nevada – Las Vegas. A few years in, her coach at UNLV was approached by a skeleton athlete looking for help training, and it sparked an idea he brought to Kaysha.
“He comes to me and is like, ‘Hey, I did some research on bobsled and they’re looking for athletes who have size and you’re fast and strong and explosive and powerful and I think you might be successful in the sport,” Kaysha recalled.
She wasn’t convinced.
“That’s a winter sport,” she said. “We’re trying to get away from the snow.”
Neither was her mother.
“I started laughing and I’m like, ‘Are you for real?” said Stephanie. “Is this going to be the female version of ‘Cool Runnings’?”
In the middle of Kaysha’s final collegiate season, the idea came up again, this time in form of a cold call from a USA Bobsled coach who invited Kaysha to attend a rookie camp in Lake Placid, New York.
With approval from UNLV, Kaysha went to the push-camp and exceeded expectations. After finishing her college track season, Kaysha was asked to come back to bobsledding and compete in the North American Cup Circuit. A few months later, she was invited to the World Cup Team and made her World Cup debut.
“God has just blessed me the entire way through it,” said Kaysha. “It’s been quite the journey.”
Kaysha’s family says they’re not at all surprised at her success in gymnastics, track and bobsledding.
“I knew she was special,” said her aunt, Melanie Johnston. “But it was her determination that set her apart from a lot of other athletes.”
“As soon as she picks something up, she’s so determined that she conquers it like that. Not a lot of people can do that,” her sister Jasmyne Love said. “Not even her athletic ability but her mindset is just, it’s unbreakable. She can get what she wants because she works that hard.”
Kaysha credits years of unintentional training for how she transitioned to bobsled.
“The way I see it is, yes, I’ve only been bobsledding for a short amount of time but I had been training for bobsled without even realizing I was training for bobsled for the last like eight years,” she said.
She credits her family and faith for where she is today.
“Whether I feel overwhelmed or if I tried to overthink some stuff or stress about something,” she said, “It’s genuinely God and then the family and friends that I’m surrounded by. They are pillars.”
There’s a lot of love from the Love family being sent across the world to Beijing as Kaysha takes to the track Friday.
“I’m just so proud of her to know that she’s happy and she’s living out her dreams,” said sister Makya Love. “She’s going to do amazing.”
“Is this really happening” Is my kid really going to the Olympics? Because this has been such a long, life dream of hers that she’s finally made it,” said Stephanie. “We just didn’t know it was going to be in bobsled, but it didn’t matter. She’s going!”
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