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Local U.S. Olympian encourages students to chase their dreams

Irwin had the highest individual finish of any biathlete in Team USA history, placing 7th in the Women’s 15km Biathlon.
Published: Apr. 26, 2022 at 2:03 PM CDT
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ASHWAUBENON, Wis. (WBAY) - Two months removed from a historic Olympic performance, a local athlete is sharing her inspirational story.

Back home in Northeast Wisconsin, Deedra Irwin is still very much living on Cloud 9.

“I still get emotional about it whenever I try to send out pictures or videos, or I was at Pulaski High School this morning and having them just introduce me and say the things that I’ve done, it’s crazy to come full circle, it still hasn’t sunk in, I’m pretty in awe of just being at the Olympics and being at that experience, and then also having that result,” says Irwin, who grew up near Pulaski.

In February, at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, Irwin had the highest individual finish of any biathlete in Team USA history, placing 7th in the Women’s 15km Biathlon.

Now, Irwin is using her rise to fame to inspire local high school students to dream big and go for it.

“That’s what I want to inspire in then, whatever their dream may be, to chase it, to give themselves a chance and it’s not going to be an easy road, it’s going to take a lot of sacrifice, whatever they decide to do, but once you get there it’s totally worth it,” says Irwin after speaking to students at Ashwaubenon High School.

Irwin’s former club team coach says her willingness to share the ups and downs of her Olympic journey leads to an instant connection with students.

“You think about the kids at the schools that she’s talking to, I mean how many people in their lives get to meet an Olympic athlete, much less take a selfie with them and hang out, so it’s really been quite an experience,” says Bernie Rocheleau, Ashwaubenon Nordic Ski Team Coach.

The 2026 Winter Olympics in Italy are already in Irwin’s sites and she’ll resume training next month.

But for now, she’s happy to be home and honored to serve as a role model.

“People can put a face to those dreams, people can put a reality to the fact that somebody growing up in Angelica, Wisconsin, going to Pulaski High School, who spent most of their time hanging out in Green Bay, can go to the Olympics and chase their dreams and do something great,” says Irwin with a smile.

Irwin is using her rise to fame to inspire local high school students to dream big and go for it.

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