By the Editor of Supple Leopard Magazine

Kellie Starrett is one of the most interesting athletes I’ve ever come across. She’s not just a top athlete; she’s an amazing human being with a strong sense of self-worth and a passion for life that transcends her athletic prowess. She’s been called “the next Michael Jordan” and “a modern day Annie Leibovitz.” And if those are the kind of comparisons you’re looking for, then Kellie is definitely worth following.

I first met Kellie when she was a teenager at my high school track meet. At the time, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life or even how I would go about doing it. But after watching her compete in that race, it suddenly hit me: If there’s anyone who could possibly help me achieve all these goals, it’d be her! So I made plans to meet her later that year at the University of Texas where she was studying exercise science. (She went on to earn a master’s degree in physical therapy from UT.)

We started talking regularly over email and phone during our senior year of high school, which led us to start exchanging emails again after graduation. During this time, we became fast friends and I eventually moved out of state so that we could spend more time together. We’ve been in each others lives ever since and are now married.

As you can tell, she’s not only an incredible athlete but also a consummate professional and someone you’d be proud to call your own. It’s been my honor and privilege to share the stage with her as a coach.

This exclusive interview was first published on the Supple Leopard website (which is dedicated to providing free education about how to move better) and has been republished here with permission.

What are some of your favorite memories from childhood? What did you enjoy most?

I started training in gymnastics when I was about three years old. I have some really fond memories of being on the floor mat in my mom’s basement with her and my brother. If one of us couldn’t get through a certain part, my mom would jump down and show us how to do it.

I remember the first time I got through the whole floor routine by myself without help from my mom or brother. My brother was on the sidelines yelling “You did it! You did it!”

What are some of your fondest memories of high school sports?

During high school, I played both soccer and track. My sophomore year, my soccer team won the 5A state championship, which was really fun. During track season, I started focusing on just running. I loved to run the anchor leg on the 4 x 200m and 4 x 100m relay teams. Running the anchor is probably my favorite thing ever.

You’ve been called “the next Michael Jordan” and a “modern-day Annie Liebovitz.”

What do you think of those comparisons? Do you have a favorite photographer or athlete?

I think those are both pretty wild comparisons! I admire Annie Liebovitz’s ability to capture people and their personalities in her photos. As far as athletes go, I really like watching figure skaters – I think their ability to move and tell a story using only their bodies is really cool.

What would you say is your greatest athletic achievement?

Definitely competing at the Olympics in 2008 in Beijing. Before I went, I was ranked in the top three in the world. Taking home the bronze medal was pretty special.

What advice would you give to a young athlete who is striving to be the best?

It’s really important to love what you’re doing. If you don’t love it, eventually you won’t want to put in the work that it takes to be great at something. I think that’s why so many people quit sports when they’re young; it stops being fun. But if you’re playing something because you love it, then no goal is out of reach.

What celebrity would you most like to meet?

I’ve always wanted to meet tennis player Roger Federer. I think he’s the coolest and his ability to play such beautiful tennis is really amazing. I’d love to pick his brain about the sport.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I collect spare change. I have a piggy bank on my dresser that holds all the pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters that I’ve collected from the change people give me when I’m out. I like the sound it makes.

What are you most looking forward to in the next 10 years?

In the next 10 years, I hope to have a family of my own. I can’t wait to see what adventures my family and I will go on and what memories we will make.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Once a year, I have a charity bowling tournament called the “BC Celebrity Classic.” We raise money for kids who are facing health challenges to receive surgeries they need but can’t get because of lack of health insurance or money.

APRIL: Earth Month

Did you know that Earth Day is quickly approaching on April 22nd?

It’s dedicated to celebrating our planet and all the living creatures who inhabit it.

In honor of Earth Month, why don’t you do something special for a tree?

Plant one! Or if you don’t have a yard or a place for a tree, volunteer to help plant trees somewhere else.

Trees are important for so many reasons. Not only do they help the environment by producing oxygen, but they can reduce crime in an area due to the “buddy system.

Studies have shown that areas with trees have less instances of violent crimes committed than areas without trees. This is because more people are around to witness the crime.

Areas with lots of trees also have a greater general sense of togetherness and community. People take better care of their surroundings in general, so if you see litter or a dead tree in an area with lots of both you’re much more likely to see someone doing something about it.

Your local arboretum or park district is a great place to volunteer if you want to help out.


APRIL: Kids Protecting Kids Month

Have you ever seen a child get hurt and feel the urge to go help them?

That’s very kind of you. Maybe they just tripped and fell and they’re feeling scared and embarrassed. Maybe you tell them it’s going to be OK and help them pick up their things. Maybe you don’t know what to say, so you just give them a hug. Either way, it probably made them feel better.

Now think about this: There are children all over the world who get hurt emotionally and even physically and they have no one to turn to.

Wouldn’t you like to help those children too?

You can! It’s easy! All you have to do is visit the child and if they seem like they want to talk about what’s bothering them, just listen and try to help them figure out a solution. If they don’t want to talk, that’s OK too. Just giving them your undivided attention will help them feel better. Helping others is good not only for them but for you too!

In case you want to get involved in Kids Protecting Kids year round, the national organization is called Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA for short.

APRIL: Mental Health Month

One in five people suffer from some sort of mental health issue each year. In my own life, I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety. It can be really hard to deal with on a daily basis.

I remember when I was about your age, I would try to pray to God that I wouldn’t feel sad anymore. When that didn’t work, I thought there was something really wrong with me and that I would never be happy.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

It’s normal to feel sad sometimes. It’s how we handle our sadness that makes all the difference. Some people like to listen to music or go for a walk. Others prefer to keep busy by doing something they enjoy. There are also those who like to talk through their feelings with someone they trust, and that’s the most common way of dealing with sadness.

Talking to others certainly helped me when I was feeling down.

When you feel sad, remember that you are never alone.

Sources & references used in this article: