Saturday Spotlight- Brittany Erin Kickel

Name: Brittany Erin Kickel

Age: 25

Marital Status: Single (sorry Mom, lol)

Occupation: Registered Nurse

First of all, I just wanted to say thank you to Lou and all of YOU for this very underserving, and surprising opportunity to be your WOTW. Still don’t understand why I was asked, nevertheless I am humbled, not to mention very nervous lol. I apologize that I am posting this “Saturday Spotlight” on your Friday night, but I am working all weekend, such is the life of a health care professional….

I was born on April 19, 1991 to Cathy and Jim Kickel in Howard Beach, NY. When I was born, my parents received two very big surprises. 1. I was supposed to be a boy and 2. I had fiery red hair (my mom is a blonde, dad was a brunette aka he is bald now lol). My mom, very honestly likes to tell this story by adding that she was more taken back by my red hair than anything else. “After 12 hours of hard labor and your father passed out on the floor, I was completely overwhelmed and just blurted out that I was not prepared to handle a daughter, let alone a redheaded one to the doctors”. As you can see the “Ginger” jokes started early on, and definitely gave me the thick skin I have today lol. Anyways, my hair color certainly lived up to what my personality would be: feisty, determined and independent, especially as a small child (I have softened up over the years lol), therefore again, through my mom’s cute story-telling, this was the reason why my parents waited to have to my brother, Jimmy, 6 years later. At this point, we had moved from Queens to South Setauket and Jimmy was born at Stony Brook Hospital (which later in life would become my home away from home, more on that later). Now my brother Jimmy, has without a doubt always been my best friend. Because of our age difference, I have always acted as a “second mother” to him and I am extremely protective. We are “night and day”, literally complete opposites in every way, however I believe we complement each other in the best ways, but meeting in the middle when it comes to the love and respect we have for one another and our family.
Growing up, I had a happy childhood. Both of my parents worked very hard in their respective careers (Dad, a carpenter and Mom, a secretary in the district) and gave us everything we could have ever wanted or needed. I went to school in the Three Village School District and just absolutely fell in love with school from the start and that love is still going strong today. Aside from school, I participated in everything from dance, to baton twirling, to eventually sports, which changed my life and how running came into play. At the age of 9, I began to play soccer, playing competitively, traveling all over and even considering playing in college. Part of my training required “pre-season” workouts that involved a lot of running. At first, I absolutely hated it, but as I realized that being a midfielder on the team would require me to be very conditioned, I began to respect its purpose. Eventually, I began to notice that I had some speed and endurance, as did the Jr. High and High School track coaches, but I declined to run for them, mostly because I had cousins on the team who were All-Americans and I didn’t want to be compared. At the time, I blamed it on my commitment to soccer and school, but looking back on it now, that was a cop-out on my part. Very competitive by nature, I always felt (and still do at times) that I had to be the best, no one or anything could get in my way of that. Bypassing that opportunity was a shame, for I never realized how much running would play a key part in my life and would end up meaning so much to me.
With that being said, I was around 12 years old when I started to notice that things were changing at home and for lack of a better word, I had to grow up a lot quicker than most kids. My parents’ marriage had begun to falter around this time, and had continued to get worse over the next 4 years. As individuals, my parents, though loving, definitely have their issues, and unfortunately it carried over into their marriage, ultimately effecting us kids. Being the perfectionist, type A, stubborn person that I am, I had an extremely difficult time accepting this. In a way, I think I really used school, sports and running as a way to distract myself, but also as a way to take the attention off my parents’ problems. I rationalized in my head, that if I got the best grades, got inducted into this honor society, or just did well in everything I participated in, then they would be forced to focus on the positive, and maybe even realize that they had good things going in my brother and I, and that they too might realize that their marriage was worth fighting for. No such luck. My dad finally moved out when I was 16. Looking back now, and having more life experience, I realize that it truly was the best decision for our family despite the hardships it had brought with it. I wouldn’t say that these events define me, but I would definitely say that they have shaped me into who I am today, and have provided me with more motivation and drive to want better for myself in all aspects of life. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
Anyways, this is where more of my running journey comes into play. Unfortunately, after my parents had separated, I had suffered an injury that put an end to my potential collegiate soccer career. Due to years of overuse, I had developed Patella Femoral Syndrome, where the cartilage on my knees had begun to diminish, causing a lot of pounding and pain on my knees reducing their mobility. In 1 year, I had gone from running a 6:28 mile to a 10:12 mile, because the pain was just too unbearable. It was devastating but I had accepted defeat and knew I had to walk away, for what good would I be? I ended up rehabbing and doing physical therapy and eventually was slowly able to start exercising again. I started with low impact aerobics and slowly worked my way up to running again. It was amazing how little pain I was in, but not only that, how much I found running to be therapeutic. I always say that I do my best thinking while running, and the overall physical and emotional benefits of running became undeniable to me. I was definitely becoming stronger in mind, body and soul, and even though I knew I would never be the best, just finding strength, peace and FUN through running was enough.
Over the course of this week I will speak more about my running journey, however I will say that it is essential to who I am. It has obviously gotten me through tough times, through nursing school at Villanova University (GO CATS!!!) and all the other times I can’t even think of lol. Running = stability, it is the one constant I have always had. Without a doubt though, one of the best things that my running has lead me to is all of you, the Selden Hills Warriors. I am extremely indebted to Nat Rad and Nancy Walker Anderson, my nursing and crossfit buddies who got me down to do the 10K for the first time, one year ago. Since then, my life has definitely been enriched by the “Sleep in a little later group” (You all know who you are, THANK YOU!!!) and everyone else that I have had the pleasure to meet, run with and learn more about. It is my goal to meet more of you, for you are all an inspiration and it is truly an honor to be a part of such a strong organization. That’s all I have so far, thank you so much again for this opportunity, and I look forward to filling you all in and sharing more!! XOXOXO

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