Jamie Greubel Poser vividly remembers the first time she rode in a bobsled. “It felt like being inside a tin can that was being kicked off a cliff.”
A former track star at Cornell, where she had set college records in both the heptathlon and pentathlon, she had recently been accepted into Lesley’s Graduate School of Education when a former track teammate encouraged her to try bobsledding. The sport originated in Switzerland in the late nineteenth century and requires two athletes to race a 350-pound plus gravity-powered sled down a narrow, twisting ice track, reaching speeds of up to 93 miles per hour.
Being in the bobsled was unlike anything she had ever experienced on the track—exhilarating and disorienting. “You push the sled for five seconds and then all of these things are happening and your body doesn’t know where it’s going.” But the experienced bobsledders who had introduced her to the sport told her that she had serious potential and soon she was headed to Park City, Utah and Calgary, Canada to get a taste for real racing.
“Once I got to compete, I knew I wanted to get into it,” says Jamie. She became a member of the U.S. Bobsled National Team in 2009, first as a brakeman, then as a driver on a two-woman sled, and is currently one of the top-ranked bobsled pilots in the world, with more than 25 World Cup medals and a bronze medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. This February, at the age of 34, she’ll be pursuing Olympic gold in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Raised in Newtown, Pennsylvania, Jamie majored in animal science and education as an undergraduate. She came to Lesley to pursue her master's in teaching, drawn by Lesley's reputation and the opportunity to learn teaching hands-on through the collaborative internship program. She spent two semesters in placements at the Buckingham Browne & Nichols school in Cambridge teaching students in grades 4, 5, and 6.
“Being able to do an internship was so important," recalls Jamie. "It was an amazing experience to be part of a community and to build your confidence—to learn by watching, to create and teach lessons, to build relationships with students. It was a really supportive way to become a teacher.”
Beverly Malone, director of the Teacher Training Institute at Buckingham Browne & Nichols, remembers Jamie as an outstanding student teacher who balanced the demands of graduate studies with a rigorous daily classroom schedule. “It’s a very intense program—all day in the classroom, then graduate-level coursework, and she was training to make the Olympic Team. But she never let that interfere with her training as a teacher. She was always prepared; she really understood the content of what she was teaching, the kids, and what to do.”
But after graduating, instead of taking a teaching position, Jamie moved to Lake Placid, New York and threw herself into the grueling process of becoming an Olympian. Being a champion bobsledder, she explains, requires a unique body type for women—she had to gain 20 pounds in order to compete—and a training regimen that increases both strength and speed. “In order to be successful, you need to train like a weight-lifter and a sprinter."
During her time at Lesley, she trained with a local running club and with a strength coach. “It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of commitment,” says Jamie. “From April to September, you’re building strength and conditioning, then once the season starts you’re competing for points to earn a spot of the team.”
Countdown to Pyeongchang
The U.S. Women’s Bobsled Team has always been a strong one, winning medals in every Olympic Winter Games since the event was introduced in 2002. But as the countdown to Pyeongchang begins, Jamie is one of the top-ranked women bobsledders in the world, retaining a position in the top three slots.
Her family is planning to be there to cheer her on, including her husband Christian Poser, a 2014 German Olympic bobsledder who will also be contending for an Olympic medal at the 2018 Games. The chance to compete in the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang holds special meaning for Jamie—her 17-year-old sister Elizabeth was adopted from South Korea as a baby. Elizabeth will travel to Pyeongchang for the Games—her first time returning to South Korea and the first time she’ll watch her sister compete.
And after the Olympics? Jamie plans to return to teaching someday. “I would love to be back in a classroom," she says. "Aside from my athletic career, my experience of being part of a team, traveling all over the world, my passions…I would love to share that.”
Beverly Malone says that everyone who knew Jamie during her days at Lesley remembers her fondly. “On top of being a good teacher, she’s just a great human being, a really caring person. We’re wishing her well.”
Feature photo by Ken Childs. Bobsled photo by Molly Choma.