With the Olympics in full swing, we thought it would be fun to welcome Denise Maloney, guest blogger and Early Childhood & Health/Wellness Coordinator for West Iron County Schools in Michigan, to share the story of her hometown inspiration and hero!
Nick Baumgartner was born and raised in Iron River, MI – a small, cozy little town nestled in the Northwood’s of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (aka UP). People here are affectionately known as ‘Yoopers’. Nick grew up one of four brothers. His mother was the school secretary and his father worked out of town often. Nick’s parents took in many foster children over the years, and adopted a little little girl when he was in elementary school.
Nick grew up playing outside all the time with his brothers – he was the youngest, so he always had to work twice as hard to keep up with the ‘big boys’. They were always getting into trouble, doing things they shouldn’t, getting hurt – they drove their mother crazy!! Everything they could do – he did. He was an amazing athlete and went on to play college football at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. Around this time, he discovered snowboarding! He loved the danger, speed and thrill of it. He loved the fact that it allowed him to ‘play’ outside ALL winter and to keep moving! He quickly became very good at it, winning some events, then making the 2010 Olympic Team in Vancouver and winning GOLD in the X-games that same year. His latest accomplishment includes qualifying for the 2014 Olympic team and competing this week in Sochi!
While most snowboarders often live and train near the mountains – Nick’s heart is in the UP – most specifically in Iron River, surrounded by his family, friends and an amazing community that loves and supports him. He continues to live and train here while working construction in the summer months.
Nick also has a little boy, Landon, who is in the 4th grade at Stambaugh Elementary, which happens to be a HUGE OWG school!! Landon (and his entire school) is so proud of his dad. Nick often spends a lot of time at school when he is in town. He worked closely with our High School Varsity Football Team this past Fall – working out all summer with them in the weight room and coming to practices and games when he could. He was very motivational and spoke to them in the locker room before big games.
Nick has a passion for being healthy and exercising … and for encouraging children to DREAM BIG!!! Little boys from a small town in Upper Michigan can grow up to be anything they want!!
Just ask Nick!
You can watch a local television story done on Nick here!