Idaho grad Kristin Armstrong delivers pep talk to Boise State football team

bmurphy@idahostatesman.comAugust 19, 2013 

kristin, armstrong, twilight criterium, kids, bicycling, downtown, boise, anderson & anducci

9-10 year olds. Olympian Kristin Armstrong signs autographs and leads a kids' ride in the afternoon before the Twilight Criterium in Downtown Boise on Saturday, July 13, 2013.

KATHERINE JONES — kjones@idahostatesman.com Buy Photo

Boise State football coach Chris Petersen is willing to look anywhere for someone to deliver motivational messages to his team.

That includes a University of Idaho graduate with two Olympic gold medals in cycling. Boise’s Kristin Armstrong spoke to the Boise State football team Sunday morning for more than 30 minutes.

“How can you say no to Coach Pete?” joked Armstrong, who is a proud University of Idaho graduate.

“I like to share the love in Idaho. When anyone is trying to make their team better and stronger and I have one of the few pieces of motivation, I’ll hand those out. It was so much fun.”

Armstrong won Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012 in cycling’s time trial. Her 2012 gold medal came after a brief retirement to have a child and some big setbacks, including being left off the American world championship team in 2011 and breaking her collarbone in a Boise race accident just months before the Games.

Armstrong said she and Petersen spoke at the same luncheon a few months ago. Afterward, the football coach asked the cyclist if she would speak in front of his team.

“I’d heard her speak before,” Petersen said. “How much adversity she had to go through to get that second gold medal and really the first one as well. So that’s what we wanted those guys to hear.”

Armstrong talked a lot about focus with the Broncos. It is one of her six characteristics to be your best self, along with good attitude/believing in yourself, motivation, sacrifice, teamwork and fun.

Armstrong challenged them to count the number of times they found themselves distracted at Sunday night’s scrimmage.

“You might not even realize how many times you lose focus,” she said. “We tend to wander without knowing. But once you pay attention to your focus, it’s amazing how unfocused you really have been.”

It is not unusual for Petersen, who has a master’s degree in educational psychology from UC Davis, to bring in outside speakers.

“We always bring different speakers in. Just the messages that we think are appropriate for our guys and they’re similar ones that we’re giving. But we know how it goes. We’re in some ways like their parents, they just tune us out. Now you’re bringing in someone like that and they’re all ears,” Petersen said.

Armstrong said many of the players took notes throughout her speech and came up to shake her hand at the end. She passed around one of her gold medals.

“I started off my talk with what does BSU football and a girl in spandex, an Olympic gold medalist who rides a bike, have in common,” she said. “One of the biggest things we have in common is we’re on a four-year plan.”

She challenged the players to make the most of their opportunity, and to not just be participants.

“What do you do with (a college scholarship)? Do you come in and participate or come and make the most of it?” she said. “It’s just like the Olympics. You can either make the Olympic team or you can go and do something with it.”

Armstrong, who now is the executive director of community health at St. Luke’s, said athletes have unique experiences that help prepare them for their next career.

“When you’re an athlete, type A, motivated, determined, organized and have discipline, there are a lot of jobs that fit your characteristics,” she said.

Boise State gave Armstrong — the Vandal grad — some T-shirts as a thank you. “We’re not sure if you’ll wear these,” Petersen told her.

She said she would.

“I like to get harassed,” she said. “Maybe once the AD of the Vandals hears about this, I’ll get the call to talk to them.”

 

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