Anthony Herringshaw will no longer have to use secondhand equipment in his quest to represent the United States in the 2012 Youth Olympic Games.
A former foster child who now resides at Northeast Parent & Child in Schenectady, 16-year-old Herringshaw became interested in bobsledding during a day trip to Lake Placid sponsored by Northeast’s recreation program nearly two years ago.
He displayed natural skill in the sport and was encouraged to take it on as a hobby with the use of hand-me-down equipment. He was soon competing in skeleton, zooming more than 75 mph down a frozen track.
The sport is different from bobsledding in that it’s much faster and the rider lies face down. Herringshaw said he wasn’t ready for such speed at first, but got used to it fast because of his previous training.
“I got into [the sport] because I knew it was going to help me out and keep me in a better place,” said the Florida native, who moved to Canajoharie at age 6. “I’ve always been athletic.”
He said he’s always liked winter sports over more conventional games like football.
“My mom kind of thought I was crazy one day when I went outside and I wanted to go snowboarding” at age 6, he said. She eventually went out to buy him a snowboard. “I thought it was time to upgrade and be a little more dangerous.”
He was one of five youths chosen to train internationally last year and represented the United States in March at the youth Skeleton National Championships in Lake Placid. He was also the fastest American competitor in world-class junior competitions in both Park City, Utah, and Innsbruck, Austria, all the while competing with used equipment.
On Monday, Herringshaw was presented a check for $4,140 from the state Office of Children and Family Services to buy new gear. The money was collected through donations and fundraisers held by staff members.
“The work continues,” said OCFS Commissioner Galdys Carrion. “We’re going to continue to raise money for Anthony and this is such a great story because usually what we hear are not such great things about our young people, but to be able to celebrate what Anthony is trying to do is really important to us.”
Thousands in funds are still needed for travel expenses and tutors, since Herringshaw must continue his schooling while he’s away.
He will continue to train until November, after which he will compete in four Youth Olympic Games qualifying races in Utah and Austria. If he wins three races, he will automatically move on to the Olympics.
The United States Olympic Committee could eventually help with funding based on how well he does.
Herringshaw said he never thought he would get this far, but he’s “really happy” he did.
“I’m getting a lot of opportunities that other kids aren’t,” he said. “Like travelling overseas, I’ve never had an experience like that.”
He also explained how the sport has provided him with greater focus in other aspects of his life like schoolwork and relationships.
“It’s like you find what you love and the rest falls into place,” said Northeast’s Recreation Coordinator Ken DeLong.
Northeast’s President and CEO John Henley said Herringshaw’s tale is a “fantastic individual success story.”
“It’s what we’re trying to do for all of our students,” he said. “Their goals might not be as dramatic as Anthony’s, but we still want to help them find their place in the world. Anthony found his passion, but we created the circumstances.”
Carrion said the staff of OFCS is excited to see Herringshaw continue with his Olympic career.
“He truly has a lot of support behind him,” she said. “It’s like he’s our kid now.”
To donate funds for Herringshaw’s Olympic goals contact Eugene White at 518-579-3506.