BEIJING, China — James Reed is among the Maine Black Bears competing in Beijing.
There, of course, isn't a bobsled team at UMaine, but he credits his former track coach with getting him into the sport.
When he was a sophomore at UMaine, his track coach would talk all about his bobsledding experience in the mid-2000s.
"He always talked about how much fun it is, how cool it is. And when I graduated in 2014, I was kind of unsure what I was going to do, and he said I should go and try out," Reed said.
That was eight years ago, and that coach is Dave Cusano.
"It was very much part of the conversation, like, 'Hey, I learned this at bobsled,' or 'Hey, this coach I was working with at bobsled taught me this, so now I'm going to teach you that,'" Cusano said.
Cusano may have helped Reed get into the sport, but Reed ran with it.
"I tried out and did well enough to make the team the first year, and I've been doing this the past eight years," Reed said.
This isn't Reed's first time at the Olympics. He was an alternate for Team USA in 2018. But it will be the first time he gets to compete.
"This time around, to come back for another four years and put in all the hard work and have it all pay off. In the end, it's really rewarding and exciting," Reed said.
Reed is one of the breakmen or "pushers" on Team USA, and he will be competing in the four-man bobsled race.
"We push the sled, and we load in the sled as fast as we can. And then pretty much once we load the sled, we're along for the ride," he said.
Reed will likely be competing with another UMaine alum, Frankie Del Duca.
The pair ran the 4X1 relay together for UMaine and are both 2014 grads. Now they're together again in Beijing.
"He's actually going to be my pilot at the Olympics," Reed said of Del Duca. "Two of the eight Black Bears going for gold, in the same sled."
"It's really special and exciting for Frankie and [me] to be able to compete at the Olympics together, and we're really excited," Reed said.
They have an entire community cheering them on.
"Like everybody here in Black Bear country in the 207, full support of those guys living out a childhood dream of being an Olympian," Cusano said.