Book Tracking Report 3

Book Tracking Report 3

The Power of Choice
By Melissa Stockwell

This book has been on my mental reading list ever since Melissa released it last year. The audiobook version didn’t come out until December though and it wasn’t until a few days ago that I ordered it on Audible.

Melissa is one of my teammates on the USA Paratriathlon Resident Team at the Olympic/Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Of course I knew bits and pieces of Melissa’s story but I’d never heard the entire story. It’s just not something most of us discuss in great detail unless we’re asked about it—our stories that is. In pre-COVID times when we’d gather around the breakfast table for team breakfasts it was normally just a lot of laughing, moaning about the Paratriathlon system, training, racing, and anything else we could think of. Of course I learned little snippets of my teammates stories over the course of the last two years. So diving into Melissa’s book was fascinating as it gave me a further peak into one of my teammates.

Melissa describes her childhood and how she got into athletics and why she has such a strong love of country. She tells the stories of attending the University of Colorado at Boulder, joining ROTC, joining the Army, her first marriage, deploying to Iraq, and of course the story of how she became the first female to lose a limb in the Iraq War.
She describes her rehab and what drove her to work so hard to get back to competitive athletics. How she chose to go back to school for prosthetics and the story of her first Paralympics as a swimmer in Beijing. The story of her marriage falling apart, beginning her work in prosthetics, the forming of her relationship with her now husband and starting a family. Then the stories of how she got into triathlon, competing at the Rio Paralympics and the famous American sweep of the podium and her move to Colorado Springs for one last go at the Paralympics.

What struck me most about this book was how true it was to Melissa. Even though it wasn’t Melissa reading the book, the narrator did a phenomenal job capturing Melissa’s voice. If you ever get the chance to meet and get to know Melissa a little bit, you’ll understand. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when she casually mentioned her “Blue Chapstick.” We’re always teasing her about how she can’t go anywhere without her tube of chapstick. She allowed her true voice to come out. I enjoyed some of the stories about how she met all of the living Presidents, how she danced with President George W Bush and how she mountain biked with him on his ranch. She did not spew politics or her political views at all though. She just respects everyone she comes across.

Melissa is definitely a well-known figure in the ParaSport world and you’ve probably seen her in commercials—the most recent one being a beer commercial which I find funny because Melissa’s definitely more of a cocktail/mixed drink and wine person. Some celebrity figures put out a book to make themselves look good, to boost their credibility, or for some other reasons entirely. I can assure you though, the person Melissa is in her book is exactly who she is in real life. She’s our team mom as well as like an older sister figure. She has some entertaining quirks that make her truly relatable, she works incredibly hard every single day to be the best she can be as an athlete, person, and especially the best mom and wife to her family.

What’s most striking is how delicately Melissa weaves life lessons into her story. I really liked that she told her story and didn’t just schpeil motivational jargon. People relate to stories and she tells and lives her’s to the fullest.

So would I recommend this book? You can bet your bottom dollar I would! And it’s not just because Melissa’s a friend and teammate. Get yourself a copy and read Melissa’s words. And you too will commit to recognizing the Power of Choice in your own life.

Book Tracker: 3/20

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