Julie Culley – Our Colleague, Our Friend, Our Athlete, Our Olympian

I’ve been doing quite a bit of writing, blogging, “vlogging”, and community relations lately.  Multiple articles in the Pro-Activity company newsletter / blog.  One or two for the local Clinton Twp. newsletter, a few interview coordination and party planning efforts for our newest local celebrity (long-time friend) Julie Culley, and a little video production that took more hours than I’d like to admit.  Of course, it’s all been for great reason and great cause, but needless to say, I’ve been neglecting my “Fit 2 Be (a) LIVE” contributions.  So I’m once again recycling the below article…but assuredly for good reason!  Enjoy!


In July of 2010, I got an email from one of my very best childhood friends that had moved out of the area after college, stating “Guess who’s moving home?”!  Having been in the Maryland / DC area since graduating from Rutgers in 2004, my friend, Julie Culley, had many reasons for the move, but most focused on the development of her career as a professional runner.  “I’ll be running with a new professional club based out of Rutgers to prep for the 2012 trials, and I’d love to get involved with what you guys are doing at Pro-Activity!” Julie excitedly wrote.

Two years later, the hometown girl that decided to come back home has departed once again….but this time Julie is en route to London as an Olympian, the USA Olympic Trials Champion, Hunterdon County’s newest hometown hero….and in her words, “Just an ordinary girl trying to do extraordinary things!”

But the road to London and realization of a personal dream wasn’t all smiles, high fives, and smooth sailing for Julie, a professional runner for Asics, member of the New Jersey-New York Track Club, and coach / trained-athlete at Pro-Activity.  No, like any amazing human achievement story, this one comes with its fair share of ups and downs, twists and turns, and adversity.  Julie after all, a very talented athlete since her days on the youth soccer field, got into running “late” and never won an individual state, big east or national title throughout her years at North Hunterdon High School or Rutgers University.  And although she did claim All-American status in high school as a member of the Distance Medley Relay Team, and in Cross-Country for Rutgers University, as a runner frequently battling injury, the title of “National Champion” was seemingly always just out of grasp.  “It was tough mentally and emotionally….it’s like I’ve always known it’s been inside me but my body didn’t want to cooperate.  So after Rutgers, I decided to leave competitive running and take a great opportunity with Loyola.” said Culley, referencing being named Head Coach at Loyola University, Maryland, the youngest head coach in NCCA Division I history.  “But within short time, I felt like I still had more to give to the sport, so I joined on with Matt Centrowitz’s crew (the former American record holder in the 5,000 meters and current American University head coach)

and began training and competing again”.

Alongside Coach Centrowitz, Julie began to flourish, finishing 7th in the 2008 Olympic trials and representing Team USA at the 2009 World Championships, but still found herself battling injury after injury and struggling to put together consistent, injury-free training.  And when word in the running world got out in 2010 that famed track coach Frank Gagliano (aka the “Godfather of Track & Field”) and long-time Centrowitz friend would be starting an elite running group in the Northeast anchored by 2008 Olympian Erin Donahue, Julie decided it was a great opportunity to come home.  But as history often does…it repeated itself, and Julie came home a bit injured, and after some strong words of “encouragement” from Pro-Activity therapist Justin Bagley, she decided it was time to truly RECOVER and shut it down for two months with no running.  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  

In the past two years, with the help of a number of medical professionals and coaches, both those that are a part of the Pro-Activity team and many who

are not, Julie has strung together something extraordinary, and credits her ability to train healthy and consistently on the track and in the gym (ok we call this the “MOVE” element) as one of the keys to her recent projection into US track and field stardom!  Coupled with the appropriate “FUELING” (Julie sticks to a gluten-free diet) and “RECOVERY” (Physical Therapy, Massage, Chiropractic, Orthopedist) strategies, Julie found it within herself to “ENDURE” the hard workouts, the countless hours on the track and in the gym, and maybe the most famous 100 meters at the 2012 Olympic Trials where she out-kicked American record holder Molly Huddle for the victory!  She consciously relied on four of the the five Pro-Activity identified ELEMENTS for her most recent extraordinary human achievement; the one that helped her to physically realize some

thing she’s only seen in her dreams to this point – a USA Olympic Trials National Championship, and the right to now be known as an OLYMPIAN, and a member of TEAM USA!

BUT – even having known Julie since we were seven years old….the thing that struck me most, and I believe is the quote that best represents the true Julie Culley, is what she said to me his past Thursday at our last strength workout before she left for overseas – “What puts this whole thing over the top for me is how the community has connected with all of this and shown such an outpouring of amazing support.  It’s incredible….I’m not sure I deserve all of this, but it’s something I’ll always cherish”.
And there you have it…the fifth and final ELEMENT (CONNECT) required for Extraordinary Human Achievement!

If you’d like to see just what Julie was referring to, take a look at the video below (that little production that took me longer than I’d like to admit), shown to 250+ people at our  “Julie Culley Olympic Send-Off Party” hosted by Pro-Activity at our BaseCamp 31 facility.
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One thought on “Julie Culley – Our Colleague, Our Friend, Our Athlete, Our Olympian

  1. Pingback: Wisdom, Empathy, and Thankfullness « Fit 2 Be (a)LIVE

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