Brzozowski, a track star during her time at Elon, pivoted to bobsledding after the pandemic hit and recently competed in the Junior World Championships.
Lauren Brzozowski ’19 was still on cloud nine a week after competing in the recent 2022 IBSF Junior World Championships in Igls, Austria, where she and her teammate put in a stronger performance than she had expected.
“Honestly, I’m glad that I didn’t crash,” Brzozowski said, who placed seventh in the two-women bobsled competition, her debut in Europe.
Brzozowski piloted the bobsled with USA teammate Michelle Szlauko to finish in 56.6 seconds and 57.24 seconds in both heats for a combined time of 1:52.91.
Bustling down the belly of a bobsledding track wasn’t Brzozowski’s first dream. She came to Elon in 2015 on a full track scholarship. A specialist in the 400- and 200-meters events, Brzozowski found success on the track while at Elon but she didn’t feel that she accomplished all that she set out to do.
Continuing her aspirations in track, she moved to the United Kingdom and began running for Loughborough University while simultaneously pursuing a master’s degree in marketing. She planned to compete in races throughout Europe and eventually start a professional track career.
“COVID had other plans,” Brzozowski said. She returned to the U.S. due to the pandemic but wasn’t discouraged from her dream of being a professional athlete. She had been watching the career of Veronica Day ’11, another Elon track alumna, and how Day transitioned into winter sports and became a member of the USA Skeleton team.
“She was part of the reason I keep my eye on the possibility of bobsled. She connected me with coaches to get involved,” Brzozowski said. She participated in a virtual workout which led to an in-person tryout for USA Bobsled & Skeleton in Lake Placid, New York, home to one of the hardest sledding tracks in the world. After that, Brzozowski earned a spot with the Team USA bobsled development team.
A lot of her training in bobsledding is like the training required in track and field, but more intense. “I just have to lift heavier, sprint harder and then also finance my entire career. Just a few differences,” she said. “I took for granted coming to track practice for an hour a day, running around in circles and then going home and spending no money.
“It’s a lot more of a time commitment. The progression from just being a track athlete to bobsled and the journey to get there has been crazy,” Brzozowski added.
She hasn’t closed the door completely on her track career, though.
“Track was my first love. I do want to potentially go again for Team USA as a Masters track athlete and see if I can break a world record when I’m older,” she said.
Brzozowski began preparing for the Junior World Championship during the summer of 2021 as a member of the USA bobsled development team. She hopes to compete in future Euro Cup and Junior World Championship races and hopefully earn a spot competing in bigger competitions, like the Bobsleigh World Cup and the Winter Olympic Games.
“I still have a lot more work to do before I can be considered for bigger competitions down the line. But this is definitely one of the first steps I need to take to get there one day, hopefully,” Brzozowski said.
Although one of her prime objectives is competing at the 2026 Winter Olympics in Italy, Brzozowski has realized her bobsledding career has other equally important objectives.
“I’ve learned that there’s a lot of other great things I can do with this sport in terms of inspiring others, being a motivational speaker, giving back to my community, helping other athletes do stuff that they didn’t think that could accomplish,” she said. “It’s incredible how much a little story like mine can go beyond the ice.”
Brzozowski said her TikTok and Instagram platforms have grown exponentially since she began sharing her experience with bobsledding. Connecting with other athletes and those interested in the sports is something she doesn’t take lightly and hopes to continue building that base with others.
“I’m appreciative of the role I have and who I’ve been able to inspire because of it,” Brzozowski said.
What’s her advice to current student-athletes? Brzozowski said she would tell them to chase their dreams regardless of the obstacle. At Elon, she knows that people will go out of their way to help a fellow Phoenix – just as Day had done with her to get into bobsledding – and current students shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help when needed.
There are many challenges in life, and one lesson that can be learned from sports on how to deal with them is to persevere.
“Be able to use injury or setbacks or hurdles that you may face in your career as a confession of character,” Brzozowski said. “Not only in being an athlete but going after the job you want. There’s a lot more that sports can do for you off the field,” Brzozowski said.