“It’s never too late to become a winner.”
That’s the mantra of Laura Eiman ’71, who, in her 60s, decided to take her life into her own hands to become a gold-medal-winning weightlifter and mental toughness coach.
“Back in the 60s and 70s, women never lifted weights,” said Eiman. “I had never seen a barbell or dumbbell before I started doing CrossFit at age 60.”
Eiman says at first, she was terrible at lifting a barbell, but she was determined to learn CrossFit. In 2016, at the Florida CrossFit where Eiman was training, there was an Olympic Weightlifting coach.
“I’d never even heard of the sport, but I took a chance and did a lesson after my CrossFit class,” added Eiman. “I instantly realized I could learn a lot from that odd looking piece of steel––about focus, discipline, technique, and even humility. One thing led to another and I began training exclusively as an Olympic Weightlifter!”
Her perseverance paid off. She began competing in local weightlifting meets in Florida, practicing her own mental toughness program. Eighteen months later, she became Florida State Champion. She then placed fourth in the nation and qualified for the world championships twice, and won a gold medal at the Pan American Games in the Dominican Republic.
Eiman believes that winning starts in our minds. That competitive spirit was fostered as a student-athlete at GA where Eiman thrived in the pool and on the sports fields.
“I was very athletic,” stated Eiman. “Phyl Morrison Biddle was the head of girls athletics and was a tremendous mentor to me. She believed in me and always let me know it! This makes a big difference in a young person’s life. Another mentor was Dick Shoulberg. I had the privilege of being coached by him in his first two years at GA and thrived in his swim program. Heck, I even got my name on a plaque in the GA gym back in 1970 for some butterfly record I broke, thanks to him!”
But while she flourished as an athlete, Eiman struggled in the classroom with ADHD and suffered from low self-esteem as a result. Fortunately, her classroom teachers were willing to bend over backwards to make sure she succeeded.
“Edwin Probert, my English teacher, was always such a crowd pleaser and appreciated by all,” said Eiman. “He could make any piece of literature come alive. Jinny Day, our college counselor was amazing; and Gloria Pflaumer at the front desk was always greeting visitors with a smile.”
After GA, Eiman attended St. Lawrence University and then headed to Montana where she taught ski lessons. She met her husband on those slopes and the two landed in Connecticut where they raised their two children. Today, Eiman lives outside of Boston.
For years, Eiman says she held unexciting corporate jobs and felt like a fish out of water. It took her until age 50 to start her own company. With passion and hard work, she founded, PicPads, a company that creates personalized notepads and cards. Within three years of starting the company, PicPads garnered endorsements from Oprah, Barbara Walters, and Rachel Ray. The company is going strong close to two decades later.
Today, Eiman’s business partner is in charge of PicPads so she can run a coaching business, Building Brave Women. As a Navy SEAL-certified mental toughness coach, she works with women (and men too!) in the corporate and college sectors to help them become mentally tough so they can win at (almost!) anything they put their minds to.
Eiman wants men and women to think like a Navy SEAL and develop the habits of Olympic athletes so they can win at work and at their health and fitness goals––just as she did with weightlifting at 65 years old! She says this is the most rewarding work she has ever done, and she will never retire.
“If there is one piece of advice I can offer to current GA students, it is don’t waste your time like I did, doing what you think you should do,” said Eiman. “Follow your gut. Trust your instincts. Identify your passions and then go after them with reckless abandon.”