Robert Iron Shell’s path to becoming a decorated track athlete wasn’t easy, but it was life-changing. Now, he’s committed any free time he has to training other young people — particularly among his his fellow Native American communities in Iowa — so that they can experience the same transformation.
I live an extremely busy life, going to class in the morning, training in the afternoon, and working a part-time job in juvenile corrections at night. Training can sometimes take up to four hours a day with preventative care, lifting, running, and recovery modalities. I also host running camps on local reservations and give public talks regarding health and nutrition to youth when I find time. While it is busy, I can also say it is very fulfilling as I enjoy what I do very much in each aspect. In the future, I hope to be working with reservation hospital administration, coaching, continuing to progress in athletics, and continuing to give back to the community.
Throughout my career I’ve had the opportunity to thousands of natives and non-natives alike around the country with my story. Put simply, having a coach telling me I wasn’t fast enough to be on a track team, coming from a culture not known for athletes, being overlooked in high school (I wasn’t recruited by my current school!), and then going on to achieve all that I have so far whilst still being able to give back to my community. This is something that I’m proud of and would like to continue to do.