Memphis has a Bobsled Super Star – Team USA’s Sable Otey

Memphis has a Bobsled Super Star – Team USA’s Sable Otey

Memphis has a Bobsled Super Star - Team USA's Sable Otey

by Jerome Robinson | Oct 5, 2017

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How do you define being amazing?  Is it being a great parent and a supportive mate?  Is it giving back to the community you love?  Would you say it is beating the odds when life had stacked the cards against you?  It could be having the career that no one thought you could have.  For one graduate from East High School, being amazing means doing it all and still having room to write a book and win a slot on the USA Bobsled Team.  Yes I said it, a 30 year old woman from Memphis is on the Bobsled team for the USA and is hoping to compete in the winter olympics in just a few months.

Sable Otey trains in Calgary, which is a city in the Canadian province of Alberta.  The hard part for her isn’t the diet or all the hours of training, it’s being away from her son and husband.  I got a chance to talk with her about her life, her marriage, and her fight to be more than the hand she was dealt.


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The Challenge

Everything at this point for me is Self Funded.  I am responsible for my own expenses.  Additionally, training and competitions usually last 3 weeks to a month at a time.  During this time, I do not receive pay from my current place of employment.

Help is Needed

Expenses that I am responsible for are:  Buying my own equipment; Plane tickets;  RentalCar; Lodging; Ensuring that I am practicing healthy eating; Getting massages and chiropractic treatment; Taking the correct supplements and nutrients to replenish and recovery properly.

Memphis we can help Sable

Sable, in her own words

Many individuals that truly know me, know that I’ve always been an athlete. I take training very seriously and I work hard! Although I possess the talent and work ethic, I’d often struggle mentally. On a daily basis, I would mentally tear myself down. I didn’t believe in myself as much as others did and I was not trusting in God as I should have. I would literally get to a competition and start thinking, “What if I didn’t do this, or what if I didn’t do that”?! I took myself out of the competition before it even began. If you are not mentally focused/mentally sound, you are already defeated. I’ve now learned that, in order to have positive thoughts, I first needed to completely trust in God. I have to truly believe that God is control and he will help overcome any obstacle. I then had to surround myself with positive, like-minded, and uplifting individuals. I knew that if I was ever going to achieve something that I’d never achieved, I had to do something that I’ve never done. I’ve been listening to a motivational speaker by the name of Les Brown. He says that, “In order to do something that you’ve never done, you have to be someone that you’ve never been”! I am doing just that! I am going to verbalize my dreams and my goals. I am not going to let doubt or fear, be the determinate of my destination. I am Olympic Hopeful! I want be an Olympian. I am going to make this team. I believe in myself.

I was just starting to train competitively for track and field again after having my son, Amar’e, who was two, but now three years of age. I found out from a really good friend and brother that there would be a Bobsled Combine in South Carolina. Approximately 2 weeks before the combine, I decided to stop training for track and work on the events that I would be performing in the combine. Although I didn’t have much time to train for the combine, I had high hopes. Everyone believed that I could do this! They knew that I could make it through! All I had to do was believe that I could do it too!

I participated in the bobsled combine on August 8, 2015 in Greenville, South Carolina. I received the second highest score, men and women combined. The events that were performed were: 15, 30, and 45 meter sprint; Flying 30 meter sprint; 12 pound shot put toss; Standing long jump. I didn’t perform as well as I’d like to, but I finally took the time out to tell myself, “You did it. You did a great Job”. From this day, the real journey began! I’ve been invited back to the Olympic training center on three different occasions: Rookie Push Camp, Push Championships, and National Team Trials! As of now, I will be racing on the North America’s Cup in Calgary, Canada and Whistler, Canada!

Making this team is very important to me as an athlete, wife, mother, teacher, and mentor. I want to be one of my son’s biggest hero’s and I want to continue to encourage moms! Having a kid is always a blessing. I use my family and my students as motivation. Never let your current situations, determine your future. If you want it bad enough and you work hard enough..You can and you will….Be great!

More from JustMyMemphis

Hidden Figure; John Best

Hidden Figure; John Best

Hidden Figure; John Best


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“Hidden Figures”, a story about three black women mathematicians who worked at NASA and were instrumental in the success of the space program during a racially divided America, is a box office hit.
In addition to being one of the first successful films about black women who are celebrated for their minds and not their servitude, the movie has also helped raise the profile of S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers amongst African American children.

Change Agent – John Best, affectionately known as Brother John, did what he does best (pun intended) and organized a screening of the film and put out a clarion call to the community to sponsor a student, parent or teacher to see it.

The event was his contribution to helping get students excited about careers in S.T.E.M. fields.

Brother John is a former professional athlete and currently a Broadcast Operations Advisor for Shelby County Schools.

With no media push, and just a few people coming together for a common cause, communicating through texts and inboxes and sending in their coins together to help offset costs…look at what you did.” Brother John posted on his Facebook page.
He has arranged similar opportunities in the past for the films “Birth Of Nation” and “Straight Outta Compton”. Both events were also met with overwhelming support.


Community Activist

Terrance Wilson is a community activist and entrepreneur involved in numerous organizations in the Memphis Community.
His blog,, is dedicated to covering topics that inform, challenge and empower black people worldwide.
He can be reached at
Brother John is one of the many people doing their part to make our world a better place by investing his resources into the youth, an investment whose returns will pay well into the future!

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Leaving A Dark Place . . .

Leaving A Dark Place . . .

Leaving A Dark Place

Johnny Loper | Contributor
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I remember as a little boy and being raised by a single mom in my childhood. I got to spend most weekends with my dad and through the school weeks with my mom. The biggest light bulb went off for me in the 4th grade. My teacher told me that I was a big trouble maker, she didn’t like the way I looked, she didn’t like the way my hair smelled and that I would not make it through school. She would also put me in a dark room and send me my work for the day but I was not allowed to be around the other kids during class.
I never shared this with my mom but one day my mom came to get me from school and quickly realized that I was not in the class that I was supposed to be in and was escorted to the place where I was located. She was hurt and embarrassed. She asked me, “ Why are you in this dark room behind a curtain”? I said because the teacher said I was slowing the class down and I never finish my work on time. My mom looked me in my eyes and said “ Son Never Ever Allowed Anyone Else To Put You In A Dark Room… You Were Meant To Shine & That’s What You Are Going To Do”… You understand Me?
I repeated that grade with a different teacher and became an honor student. I also gained the confidence I needed to pursue different sports and becoming one of the only players in Wayne County History to play All 4 Sports from Freshman to Senior year.(football,basketball,baseball,track) I’m a Waynesboro, MS. native who starred at wide receiver for South Carolina State from 1995-2000, I had lofty aspirations of making an NFL roster, in large part because I wanted to retire my mother from the factory job she had for 38 years in my hometown.
However, after being invited to try out for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Carolina Panthers following a three-year stint with the now-defunct Memphis Xplorers of the arenafootball2 league, My dreams of embarking upon NFL riches ended abruptly when I failed to earn a spot on the teams’ 53-men rosters.  I enjoyed a brief professional football stint with the Memphis Xplorers of the arenafootball2 league from 2000-2003. Today, as the owner of Jay-Lo Fitness, I have witnessed my annual income increase considerably now that I have branded myself with Jay-Lo Fitness.
anything in life is possible if you refuse to give up

Moving to Olive Branch, MS. I started my business 15 years ago, a regular work day for me lasted nearly 16 hours.
I didn’t see a problem with that. “I was actually enjoying life because I didn’t have kids and It was just me and my wife, Weslynne Loper. But when my little boy, JT Loper came along, it wasn’t about me anymore. I kind of had a sour taste in my mouth because my dad was a hard working man and had to work all the time. He couldn’t make all of my sporting events when I was a kid.”

Now a father of two JT 6 & Jalynne 4, I sensed immediate changes needed to take place once my wife, Weslynne, gave birth to our first child. Among those changes was to make certain I didn’t spend lengthy hours at Jay-Lo Fitness.
I don’t regret not being chosen in the NFL because it humbled me and helped me find my true purpose in life.
One thing I learned was the importance of staying in good health. I truly think if it weren’t for the long hours I invested in a fitness business that had already earned a favorable reputation among Mid-Southerners, it likely would have taken longer for me to realize why a career in the NFL wasn’t meant to happen. I not only was able to retire my mother, Fannie Loper, from the factory job she had since I was a child, but she has lost about 50 pounds because of her commitment to using AdvoCare products and healthy lifestyle change. She is debt free and in the best shape of her life at 62 years old.

“That was my whole reason for trying to get to the NFL. I was trying to get my mom out of that trailer and to retire her from her job.”

Continue Reading Below

My dreams of playing in the NFL are now a distant memory. My transparent story has given me tons of exposure and I have become well known in recent years because of my rapid success as an entrepreneur. I take part in regular speaking engagements to discuss health, wellness, and living a carefree lifestyle.  Now that I have been afforded more freedom away from my gym and enjoys a mostly carefree lifestyle that includes coaching kids in sports, frequent vacations and more time with my family. Over the last 6 years, I have taken part in another venture that I believe will enhance the lives of others.  Because of my continuous success through Jay-Lo Fitness and Advocare in recent years, I have had the luxury of delivering speeches to an assortment of organizations throughout the Mid-South.  Given the thunderous applauses and favorable feedback, I expect this venture to expand in the foreseeable future.  Just recently, for instance, I spoke before approximately 25,000 people during an Advocare Success School event at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT & T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
A little country boy from Waynesboro, Mississippi was given the opportunity to be center stage addressing an audience that size,” “That in itself should let anyone know that anything in life is possible if you refuse to give up.”  I have gained a newfound passion for sharing my success in front of sizable crowds and speaking in front of large audiences essentially has become a part of my vision.

“It’s always special when you are presented with an opportunity to help someone else by sharing your story. “There are a lot of people in this world who are hurting or who are in need of some form of inspiration in order to make it through the day. I consider it an honor and a privilege to be viewed as a leader who has the heart of a servant.” While my requests to give speeches have increased considerably in recent years, I don’t always know which topics and issues to discuss once I take the stage. In other words, I admittedly follow my instincts with regards to grasping my audience’s attention, something my attendees have come to embrace.

Sometimes, I never know what I’m going to say until I’m in front of the audience But I can say that I enjoy sharing my core values with my audience. At the end of the day, I believe that success comes from strong faith, strong commitment, strong family, and strong love. I hope that after every speech, the audience looks at me, hears my message, and leave the room motivated by the thought of, “If he can make it, then I know I can make it.”

Johnny Loper

Johnny Loper

Fitness Professional | Owner of Jay-Lo Fitness

Johnny Loper, a fitness expert who recognizes the importance of a healthy mind, body, and spirit.

“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for the things he has allowed me to experience. It is those constant thoughts of my hometown and my upbringing that keeps me humble. Those thoughts keep me grounded and fuel my drive to always want to help someone else achieve prosperity.”

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The Big East West Tour

The Big East West Tour

The Big East West Tour

Sky Choice | Contributor

This article is made possible with support from Community Partner Amro Music Stores



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“So… What are you going to do after you graduate college?” It was a question asked of me and my fellow seniors at the beginning of our last year. What was next for us? I had put some thought into the answer, but I wasn’t sure how realistic my goals were. I wanted to be a touring musician. I would be able to do the two things I loved most- travel and play music. I didn’t just want to roam around my home state of Colorado though. I had done that before on Winter Tours. I wanted to do a full tour, a national tour. So I did.

I spent January and February planning my route. Music venues book musicians an average of 3-4 months in advance, so to begin playing shows in June, I sent out emails in March, then followed up every couple of weeks thereafter. I used to find the venues. I had been hosting people on for over a year and would take my turn as a traveler. I graduated in May with a B.A. in Music in Vocal Performance and Music Business. I had my tour kickoff in the middle of June and returned for the holidays in late November.

How exploring North America became a journey of self-discovery

This summer Sky took the stage at SRVS to bring some smiles to everyone on hand!

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So far I’ve traveled through 27 states (including Colorado and D.C.) and 2 Canadian provinces within the last 6 months. That’s about 16,000 miles on the road. I’ve met more people than I can count and I’ve been changed by every encounter. Yes, I do mean EVERY encounter. I was in Burlington, VT, with no place to stay. After arriving at the venue, I introduced myself as the entertainment to a couple at the bar and then played my set. They found out I didn’t have a place to stay and invited me into their home. Then, over breakfast, they set up a place for me to stay in Montreal, QC. In Pittsburgh, PA, I was again without a place to sleep and a couple of Couchsurfers picked me up last minute. During my stay they took me around the city, taught me how to play card games, introduced me to their friends, brought me out on the town. The kindness of strangers has been a never ending theme of the trip. I’m still amazed and humbled by all the people who have helped me along the way- if you are reading this now, thank you.

I would never have guessed the adventures I would get into while on the road. I walked in the second line in New Orleans at Halloween. I saw Niagara Falls from the Canada side. I performed on the streets of Santa Fe, Austin, and Tennessee, wandered through Central Park in New York, swam in the Gulf Of Mexico off the Florida coast, hiked the National Mall in D.C. from The White House to The Lincoln Memorial, dipped my toes into Lake Michigan in Chicago, watched a Lake Superior sun set in Duluth, explored art museums in Bloomington, Omaha, and Kansas City, made new friendships, reconnected with old friends and family I hadn’t seen in years. These are just a handful of the amazing things I’ve experienced.

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. It may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”

Maya Angelou

There were also a few less-than-amazing things. I slept in my car several times. I played to empty coffee shops and bars. I had my car broken into and a majority of my equipment and my clothes were stolen. I fought with the differences between loneliness and being alone. To say these things detracted from the trip would be a lie, though. They were an integral part of the trip. “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. It may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”- Maya Angelou. Nights in the car became times of self-reflection, away from the world. Empty venues turned into places to experiment and try new things with minimal risk. Right after my car was broken into, a man and his son came by, asking if my friend and I had anything to spare. I did. I’d been handing out granola bars to people on the streets who had signs saying “Anything Helps.” The food was still in my car. I sent the man and his son with a handful of the snacks and a gallon of water. My gear and clothes were gone, but I wasn’t going to let the thieves take my humanity, too. I wasn’t going to pass up on the chance to help. Through so much time by myself, I became a more distilled version of me. I became more truthful to myself, more aware of my needs and wants. I feel more authentic than when I left.

Sky Choice

Sky Choice


Sky Choice picked up the guitar in 2008 and has been songwriting ever since. Aiming to rejuvenate the definition of “singer/songwriter,” his sound is influenced by Passenger, Bon Iver, Bob Dylan, John Mayer, Damien Rice, and the current song playing through his car stereo. He has recorded two full length albums, Young (2014) and Tempest/Timberline (2016), and holds a bachelor’s degree in music business and vocal performance. Sky has organized and performed in several tours with shows in Denver, New Orleans, New York, and Austin.

And the trip isn’t over yet. The Big East West Tour continues in Colorado through December and nationally again in January. After having left my footprints in the East, it’s time to leave some tracks in the West. This constant travel isn’t sustainable, though, I’ve run the numbers. I don’t know what I’ll do when I come back, but I know it was worth it. Every cent, every second- the travel is worth it.

Sky Choice


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My music got me fired…

My music got me fired…

My music got me fired…

Antonio Neal | Contributor

This article is made possible with support from Community partner Artizan Constructors, LLC



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I really thought I was done recording music as a professional. I had my moment during my 12 years in Nashville and one recorded project here in Memphis. Then something started happening..I started seeing the world around me fall apart. Video by Video…Headline by Headline. So much violence, So much pain, So much death here In Memphis and across our country.

I was looking for a way to respond. A way to get this weight off of my shoulders and mind. My guitar was in it’s case in the corner of my bedroom, but one day I was inspired to pick it up and dust it off. I needed a way to release the tension so I just started playing a few familiar chords. I had no idea that 8 songs and a few sleepless nights later I would be offering more songs for the world to hear.

I had turned my focus to real estate and building something for my family. I told myself that I was retired and had moved on. No more dog and pony shows for me:) Maybe God has other plans. I must admit, I am very nervous. Not because I’m worried who likes or dislikes my musings, but I’m nervous about me. I’m not the same guy that donned the cover of an EMI Gospel project. I decided to let my platinum facial hair show. It’s my way of honoring those who will never get the honor to see their own transformation like I have.

Antonio Neal is the CEO at The Phelon Company

The Phelon Company:
We provide quality video shooting, editing,voice overs and more for all of your business and vision needs!

Maybe I’m nervous because what I have to say isn’t a well thought out and packaged commercial release. The songs just happened. It was given to me to give back to you in hopes that maybe in some way it will bring some understanding or be a conversation starter that leads to empathy. I don’t know, maybe It’s because I feel a great responsibility to share truth over my established genre; Life over fantasy. Maybe I’m nervous because I just don’t know where I am going and what’s around the corner for me and my platinum whiskers….and that’s ok with me.

“I AM America”

A few of the most frequently asked questions I’ve been getting since the release of my new project are: “What’s your inspiration for your music?” Or “what was your thought process while writing it?” Those are two great questions, and I now realize that I don’t have time to write an exhaustive answer, but it wasn’t inspiration or thinking only that got me here. It is my entire experience as a human being. Early memories of my late grandparents, awesome holidays and family meals, as well as experiencing my little brother being called a “nigger” by some teens speeding by our home in a pickup truck as we worked in our yard in Spanish Lake, Missouri are a few of the things that made me who I am today.

Over the next few months I will begin to share some of what has shaped me as a man, husband, father, son, brother and U.S. citizen. The memories won’t always be in chronological order because some things will trigger other memories, causing dates and times to jumble together. They won’t always be beautiful, either, but I promise to share my life as I’ve lived it. Are you ready? Here we go…

I am a blessed man—blessed to grow up with a mom and dad that loved my brothers, sister and I. As a kid, I admired the strength of my dad, his willingness to never quit on his family. I enjoyed when I was able to steal some alone time with him as we rode around doing errands in his Ford F150. From my mom I learned the importance of spirituality and prayer. She was also tough as nails. I don’t know how she kept 5 sons in line who physically towered over her:)

My parents were young adults during the struggle of the 60’s, and I’m sure they endured much. But I don’t recall them sharing those experiences with us. I’ve often wondered why they chose not to. Mom and dad never said much at all about “White people”except a brief comment here or there, yet there was always a tangible uneasiness when we found ourselves sharing a grocery aisle, the line at the bank or browsing through a crowded department store. The feeling of performing for some invisible, yet, superior audience always plagued me. As a child I felt as if there was a conversation that the older “black” and “white” people may have started, that, somehow, was cut short and no one really knew how to get it started again. Again, no one ever said anything, but it was there, and that silence was very loud.

I have dreams and I must be prepared for those moments before they happen.

Mom and dad wanted us to know that we weren’t second class citizens. Sometimes they gave us the inside scoop on how they believed the larger society truly felt about us as “Black people”. To be honest, I don’t know if that helped or hurt me. I was more concerned with how they felt about me than a few strangers that I rarely had interaction with outside of school and shopping trips. As a kid I couldn’t understand what experience had yet to teach me. The only history I knew was that which was taught to me at church and drilled into us at school, which always seemed to be at odds with each other. My mom and dad wanted to be respected and they showed us that we should expect that even from those who thought otherwise. They taught us to have pride in ourselves. They taught us that we could do most anything we set our minds to accomplish.

The older I get the more I realize that I didn’t need an opinion outside of my home. I didn’t need to be liked to be successful. I didn’t need to be accepted to feel accepted in the world, which is why I’ve never bought into the idea that I was 2nd class to anyone. I’ve always believed I belonged. I’ve always believed that I was good enough no matter how highly educated, decorated, wealthy and privileged others were around me. No one on earth could ever change my mind. Some call it pride, and I would agree with them. God didn’t give me two legs to bend over. I believe that He gave me two legs to stand as tall as the pine trees that lined our families land in south Alabama. #IAmAmerica

My music got me fired…

I haven’t really shared this with many people, but earlier this year my music got me fired.

As I stated on one of my earlier blogs, I thought that I was done with music. I had decided to set my mind on doing what was needed to create capital for my real estate dreams. In other words, it was time for me to get a job to make some investable money. The company that gave me an opportunity was in a downtown skyscraper here in Memphis, overlooking the Mississippi River. The founder and staff were some of the smartest people I had ever meet. Even though the task before me would stretch me beyond my comfort zone I wasn’t going to shy away from the challenge. I really liked this company, because it was all about technology and helping people with creative ways to find jobs via a revolutionary app.

While working for this particular company I started to get to know some of my co-workers and one day my identity was discovered. One of the fellow staff members asked me if I was the Antonio that sung the chorus of a hip hop song called “Love Child” by Grits. I confessed before everyone and was thankful for the adulation, but somehow I knew that that was the beginning of the end. lol Would my boss be able to correct me now if I was wrong? Would my co-workers treat me differently after finding out this information? Truthfully, I don’t know if anyone really cared, because I was just a guy walking around with my platinum whiskers editing away at videos to promote our product. I didn’t really look the part anyway.

Antonio Neal

Antonio Neal

CEO at The Phelon Company

As a Grammy-nominated Producer, a 4-time Dove award winner, and a 4-time Stellar award nominated writer/producer, Antonio Neal has been inspiring listeners through his thoughtful approach in his music. Musically, Antonio paints on a canvass that can truly be called his own, from a palette of musical colors as vast and arresting as his own seemingly boundless imagination. Understanding that this is an artist whose singularly unique vision is as influenced by the sweet sounds of legendary ’70s soul crooner, Al Green, as it is modern, cutting-edge hip-hop, one gets at least an inkling that this is something altogether new, created by an artist clearly guided by nothing but his own inner visions.

During that time I was working on a song(We Remember) for the National Parks Service to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Memphis Massacre of 1866. I decided to let the founder of the company hear one of our mixes and she promptly called a meeting to play it for the entire staff. I was totally caught off guard, almost embarrassed, yet I was thankful. As I looked around the room it seemed like the message in everyone’s eyes was “What the heck are you doing here?” Maybe it was my Jonah moment (again). I really don’t know, but less than (3) weeks later I found myself overboard and unemployed. I’ve wondered several times since then that if I wasn’t called out for my past Nashville life would I still have that wonderful opportunity, or was I actually set up by that song so I can write more music which would eventually become the ‘I AM America” EP? Or maybe I was simply a lousy employee getting in the way of another deserving person? Well…..I’ll stick with my music got me fired…kinda has a ring to it. Who knows, it may end up as a song on iTunes someday:)

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Jeremy Park live @ Napa Cafe!

Jeremy Park live @ Napa Cafe!

Jeremy Park from Lipscomb & Pitts sits down with JustMyMemphis for Five Questions with!  We caught up with Jeremy at his favorite eatery, Napa Cafe.  Jeremy talks about giving back, Memphis, his new book, and more! (more…)