The SheJumps Circle of Life

Posted in Friends, Soccer on April 19, 2012 by Vanessa Pierce

This was posted on on April 19. Image

I haven’t slung some words together for a SheJumps blog in a while. This is about the Circle of life, and how our combined love for sports and the outdoors intertwines us all in a beautiful way.

For 19 years I gave my heart to soccer! It was my passion and my dream was to get a scholarship to play at a top collegiate program. I did it. I played for the University of Washington on a magical team that was ranked No. 2 in the country at one point, and won the first and only PAC-10 Championship for the school (now it’s PAC-12, so that feat can’t technically happen again). After college, I stopped playing soccer competitively to pursue other dreams, but it’s been a joy to watch my co-captain in college, Hope Solo, rise to be one of the top goal keepers in the world.

Last night I had dinner with a couple of college teammates, including Hope’s best friend from childhood, Cheryl Hirss. I haven’t talked to Cheryl in years, but to be able to pick up where we left off was so fun. Cheryl and I went through a lot in college, from dealing with playing time, winning AND losing, getting yelled at by our coaches for poor performances, having to balance soccer and school, having wild parties and then dealing with fitness tests the next day. Eight years ago, I called her and said, “Cheryl, come live in Aspen with me.” She said yes, and I drove up to Seattle to pick her up and bring her back to my then home, Aspen. After eight years, she and her husband are moving back to Washington state, but as they drove through Salt Lake City, they looked me up. Cheryl said it was only appropriate to stop in to say hi as she moved on…as I was the one to convince her to move to Colorado. Circle of life.

We haven’t spoken for years, but she found me through SheJumps. Cheryl, who doesn’t have Facebook, hasn’t been able to follow my life path and over the years we lost contact. She was reminded that I live in SLC when she talked to her friend, Carla Von Trapp in Aspen who has been a chapter leader for SheJumps. She told Cheryl I now lived in SLC (as I’ve moved around since Aspen), and that’s how Cheryl was able to look me up. It makes me realize the magic SheJumps has on the world, even in small ways. In 2008, Lynsey Dyer, Claire Smallwood, and I created what we thought was a tribe of friends—but it has grown to so much more. Friends, connections, programs, events, parties… it’s a 501c3 nonprofit and business for the three of us, but more importantly it’s the fabric that connects our dreams. It’s made of people that live life to the fullest and support friends dreams in the making. I wish I had SheJumps when I was younger pursing soccer, but it’s a funny world that I have SheJumps now and it brings me back to soccer. Circle of life.

I haven’t played soccer nor been to my alumni soccer game in years, but I’m going to play this year. It’s a small jump, but I’m going to try playing again. I urge you SheJumpers to get involved and meet new people in our tribe because they know other people who may help you connect with past friends, try something new, gain a new friend, find support to take on a dream. Our tribe is special, it connects us, and helps us take opportunities when life presents them. Who knows, maybe I will enjoy playing again and try out for the semi-pro team in SLC. Who knows, but why not take a jump to see what just might happen? Circle of life. —Vanessa Pierce, SJ co-founder

My first feature on espnW

Posted in Snowboarding, Writing Clips on April 11, 2012 by Vanessa Pierce

I’ve always been an admirer of Kelly Clark for her athletic prowess but mostly for her standup faith in a sport that doesn’t always respect such a “rigid” lifestyle. I was lucky to get a chance to interview her for espnW. Here is a glimpse…


Kelly Clark’s success funds future stars’ training

Kelly Clark was all smiles as she rocked out to her Christian worship music atop her third and final run at the 2011 Winter X Games.

Over in their booth, the announcers joked, “She might be appealing to the man upstairs for a 1080.”

For good reason, too: The 1080, three full rotations in the air, was a stunt no woman in halfpipe history had pulled off in a competition. It’s the kind of trick you’d pull out of your bag at the last minute in a desperate gamble to win a competition.

Clark didn’t need this trick to win. She already had clinched the competition in her first two runs, making this her victory lap. The 1080 attempt was simply Clark wanting to see whether she could be the first woman to nail it in a competition.

She dropped in with a big smile, knowing the stakes were record-breaking high. In just her third hit, she “stomped” it — insider lingo for perfection. At the end of the run, her teammates swarmed her. This 28-year-old, the winningest woman in halfpipe history, had catapulted her sport into the next frontier.


Berit Goes to Bobsled Driving School

Posted in Bobsled, Friends, Utah on December 28, 2011 by Vanessa Pierce

Berit Tomten, my best adventure friend ever, is trying to make it as a driver on the U.S. Bobsled Team. She called me up to be the brakeman for her week-long driving school at the Utah Olympic Park. I, of course, said yes!

Why is Warren Miller the best ski film of the year, every year?

Posted in Movies, SheJumps, Skiing, Utah on October 18, 2011 by Vanessa Pierce

A packed Abravenal Hall in SLC

Imagine all of your ski friends at one party—well that happened last Friday at the Warren Miller world premiere in Salt Lake City. It was a bona fide reunion of athlete and PR and media friends. I was there to support my best friend and SheJumps co-founder Lynsey Dyer. I’ve lost count of how many Warren Miller films she’s been in—five, six, not sure, but she’s a pretty lucky girl.

Warren Miller over the years hasn’t been known for it’s ski porn shots per se, but is the one snowsports film company that has been able to cross the ski/snowboard only demographic and reach mainstream America. Those are the movies I grew up watching, back then there was no TGR, MSP, etc. I love Warren Miller for it’s humor, corniness, and how the brand has always represented skiing from the grassroots—a place and emotion that middle America can relate to, not just hard-charging ski bums. Warren Miller captures the true fun of skiing, not just lines that the bad-ass pros can ski, but most anyone and that’s why it’s truly the most authentic film of the year.

Pre-party entertainment

That being said, it is somewhat sad how Warren Miller Entertainment has slightly shifted from its grassroots to a sponsor-driven film company since the one and only Warren Miller ended his run as narrator and visionary behind the films. The movies feel very sponsor driven, in a very obvious, product placement way. But don’t they all? Money makes the film world run, and no ski film company is immune to that. However, the Warren Miller movies still aim to keep that humor and fun that the legend Warren Miller conceived. I will always love Warren Miller films regardless of the nay-sayers, and even my own critique. Warren Miller Entertainment makes skiing fun at the most basic level, and that’s what skiing is all about after all.

I was so proud of my friend, Lynsey, for her segment. She was fortunate to go with her sponsor First Ascent to India to ski with guide Lel Tone. The two ladies skied beautiful lines in the heli-accessed backcountry, but in true Warren Miller spirit they also spent time teaching the locals how to ski at Gulmarg ski area. That above anything else makes Lynsey happy, as she sure loves to spread the ski love wherever sher goes—especially to kids and the less fortunate.

The rest of the movie was entertaining, and got me excited for the ski season. I’m sick of sitting at my computer.

The movie, paired with a fun pre-party with all of my ski friends, and an after party sure made for a memorable night. The movie is now on tour across the country. This weekend it’s showing in Park City. Lyns is back in town and we’ll paint the town red after the shows if you want to join. Check out the film tour schedule here: —Vanessa Pierce, SJ co-founder

Best bar in Utah?

Posted in Bars, Utah, Writing Clips on October 18, 2011 by Vanessa Pierce

I recently got to hang out with one extraordinary bar tender in Huntsville, UT, and write up a story for Check it out:

Carol Conway has been slinging brews, burgers, and tall tales at Huntsville, Utah’s Shooting Star Saloon for 30 years. The short, stout, nice-as-spice bartender gets lost behind the bar at Shooting Star, but she isn’t short on personality. If you act cool and laid back, she will tell you tales of Utah’s Wild West—how the bar went from a trading post with mountain men drinking whiskey in the basement to it’s current state as an après ski watering hole for skiers and riders from nearby Snowbasin and Powder Mountain.

The saloon is notorious for its “our way or the highway” attitude, a stuffed St. Bernard, ghosts and the $12,000 worth of dollar bills pinned to the ceiling. The building was built as a trading post in the 1850s, turned into a saloon in 1879 and served liquor and beer throughout Prohibition. It wasn’t until 1992 that Utah law restricted the saloon from selling booze—now it’s just a beer and burger joint, but a darn good one.

Shooting Star

The bar accepts only cash but don’t expect to grab a few dollars off the roof. They’re all signed by past patrons. Photo By Ryan Thompson.

As sweet as she is, Conway is the keeper of the strict Shooting Star Saloon policies. Case in point: A male customer comes up to the bar to pay, handing her a credit card. “Sweetie, we don’t take cards,” she said. “Cash only.”

It boils down to this: If you think you’re special, put a sock in it. Conway doesn’t care.

“It’s not rude, it’s not arrogant, a cash business is a good business,” she said.

If you ask for a vegan meal—you’re in the wrong place. The bar opens at noon and closes at nine. Even if you’re Jack Nicklaus, you have to abide by the strict hours—Conway once shooed him away after coming by after hours to have a swill.

Conway says big wigs will come in and spread money out on the bar and say, “What does it take to keep the bar open past nine?” That doesn’t sway her. “We do things our way, and if you fit, you fit and if you don’t, you find a place that fits you better… [because] everyone is important here, it doesn’t matter who you are.”

The saloon has had seven owners, all have taken an oath to keep it the way it is—the philosophy, character and the Wild West feel. That’s part of the deal. In fact, the first owners are known to haunt the place—likely keeping Conway honest. After all, she’s the only bartender at the joint—works seven days a week even when the wait for burgers is three hours and 150 people are jammed in the building during high season. She likes the ghosts, they don’t creep her out one bit, they just add more ambiance to the place… like it needs anymore.


The most epic adventure yet!

Posted in Fishing, Flying, Friends, Pilot, Surfing on September 15, 2011 by Vanessa Pierce

Here is an excerpt of the story I’m working on for Flight Training magazine—best adventure yet!

I hadn’t ever been so nervous to fly. The nerves began two weeks before when my friend came up with a hair-brained idea to have me join her and friends on a Labor Day weekend getaway to Tofino—a fishing and surfing town on the southwest coast of British Columbia. “It’s on my bucket list to fly up to Tofino,” Ainsley told me. She’s never flown there even though her cabin in Tofino has been in the family since the 1950s, and flying is the way to go. Only a couple hours by plane, but 11 by car. Conveniently, I had to knock out 20 hours of commercial cross-country time, and couldn’t resist the thought…

Here are some photos to whet your appetite until the story comes out:

Flying over the San Juan Islands enroute to Nanaimo, B.C.

My first red snapper catch!

Ainsley about to hit the surf at Cox Bay, Tofino

Flying into Boeing Field, Seattle.

Landing at Boeing Field (great shot Sunny Fenton)

Made it back to Seattle, just waiting to be cleared by customs


The magic of the manifest game!

Posted in Family, Friends, Manifest Game, SheJumps on July 26, 2011 by Vanessa Pierce

Jae, Lizzie, and me in a happy place.

Have you ever played the manifest game? It’s takes you back to those imaginative years as a child when you dream about your life partner, future, your happiness…well, the imagination doesn’t have to end—EVER!

To begin, I have to tell you how the manifest game began for me. I met SheJumps co-founder and my best friend, Lynsey Dyer six years ago in Jackson Hole. She’s a Pisces, head in the clouds, full of color, character, and magic—something between a pixy and unicorn. It might sound odd, but she is oozing with good energy that is addicting. As a Cancer, aka crab, I had always been a dreamer but very grounded, sometimes crabby, and didn’t quite compete with her on the imagination scale. One afternoon in June, she says: “Vanessa, let’s drive to Whistler tomorrow, and go skiing on the glacier.” I couldn’t resist…

On our way, Dyer made me play the game. “Imagine your future, but as you have accomplished or attracted everything you ever wanted,” she says. At first, I was skeptical, especially as a journalist “crab,” but I dove in. That was the day we envisioned SheJumps (which turned into a 501c3 nonprofit and has grown immensely over the last few years). We spent hours imagining our future, describing our partners, our ambitions, our dreams—but in the past or present tense as if we had done it and felt that we had done it. It was empowering, magical, and a little woo woo, but ever since when Dyer and I get together, it’s a given—we play the game.

Getting excited!

Recently while I was visiting her in Jackson (I since moved to Salt Lake City), we played again. I honestly hadn’t played the game with her in about two years since I didn’t seen her too often—she was traveling the world as a pro skier and I was in flight school to become a pilot. Since our last meeting, I had a revised manifest: to fly seaplanes in Norway (just one element of my whole manifest but a big one). I’ve always had a love for Norway ever since my mother (Norwegian) would tell me about her family and my great great great uncle who was the prime minister of Norway in the 1800s (Ole Richter). She introduced me to the culture by making me wear a “bunad” (or traditional Norwegian costume) for annual photos with Santa, and tell me Norwegian fairy tales full of forests and trolls. Since then, I’ve been to Norway twice—once to see the entire country with a friend who was born in Norway and another to attend the Nordic World Championships and visit my own relatives.

The Tomten sisters enjoying the dream!

So during this round of playing the game, Dyer says: “Vanessa, you can’t just do this once a year, you have to do it daily whether it means writing it down and reading it or repeating your manifest daily in your head or out loud. You HAVE to believe it has happened.”

Full of newfound inspiration, I come back from Jackson full of excitement for the future. And this is where the magic happened! I start making my friends play—some skeptical at first but they start feeling how verbalizing their dreams to people creates energy and how all of us become invested in being champions for our friends’ dreams. My friend, Jae, and I play all of the time because we are both reinventing ourselves and know how hard that is, especially when you are older.

Just the other night, a bunch of friends decided to meet at Jae’s before heading to a bluegrass festival downtown. We started to play the manifest game with new friends, then more people decided to come over (some that I hardly knew)—it was like all sorts of people could feel the energy of the space and wanted to join. (On a side note, the other day I went golfing and saw a metallic golf ball in the shop that looked magic. It was the only orange one in the bowl, so I bought it. I put it in my pocket as a good luc charm while playing and ended up beating three other friends (and I hadn’t played golf in two years). Since then I’ve called it my magic golf ball. I told Dyer about it, and she says: “You made it magic, Vanessa!”)

So back to our manifest gathering, I decided to use the golf ball like a spirit stick—we passed it around as we told each other our dreams. After that, we wrote our dreams on wish papers, and went outside to burn them. As the papers flew up into the air, fireworks went off (it happened to be Pioneer Day weekend in Salt Lake). It was added magic! We never made it to the bluegrass festival, but everyone was overwhelmed with inspiration. A friend of a friend who came over, Jen, says: “It was a meeting of the minds, it’s like we now have added our energy to other’s goals and aspirations so it’s extra powerful.” Agreed.

Burning my wish paper!

So after a couple weeks of playing this game daily, the power has manifested for me. Here’s how: After the recent horrible attacks in Norway where nearly 100 people were killed by a bomb and/or gunned down by a 32-year-old right-wing extremist, I have reached out to some relatives to send my thoughts, prayers, and love via Facebook. My mother’s first cousin, Rhonda, was also doing the same with a relative I didn’t know. She connected us via Facebook…I told her a little about me and my dream to move to Norway in the near future to be a pilot. She writes back telling me: “My husband went to flight school in Tennessee, and is now working in Wideroe… Learn some Norwegian, and he will help you out ;)”

Wowsers, I had no idea I had a relative whose husband is a pilot in Norway. Proof that this game works—I manifested that this connection would come into my life by sending out love, gratitude, and intent. I sincerely reached out to my Norwegian friends and relatives with thoughts and prayers (not at all to find a pilot connection), and I got hope in return. It may sound woo woo, but it’s nothing different than what religion teaches us. Be kind, show love, create intentions and action, and God will provide. Whether you talk to the God, the moon, or golf balls—there something exciting there.

Let’s create some magic!