Rumson Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) alumnus star football and track athlete Charlie Volker has laced up a different pair of athlete’s spikes, taken to a new frontier and locked in on a new athletic adventure as a member of the U.S. Olympic Bobsled Team.
After graduating from RFH and the Princeton University as an all-state and all-shore champion running back and sprinter, Volker’s NFL tryout dreams were dashed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So, on the recommendation of a football training coach, he took his football and track speed and skill to the ice.
The Fair Haven-raised scholar athlete started training for the bobsledding over the summer.
“The actual sledding/sliding itself is a rush just like football is, and I’d call myself an adventure seeker,” Volker said, comparing bobsledding to football. “But more than that what I like most about it is being on a team with some great people. A lot of these guys and girls (on the women’s team) are incredibly high achievers and just great people. I was surprised at how nice and welcoming everyone was to me upon introduction.”
Volker’s bobsledding journey story …
Volker was training at TEST Football in North Jersey for the NFL spot when the bobsledding opportunity arose. Chris Enslen, one of Volker’s training coaches and a former bobsledder himself, saw the makings of not just a bobsledder, but an Olympic champ, in Volker. He felt that Volker had what it took to make the switch.
The love of a good challenge coupled with the endurance for three months’ worth of relentless speed and strength training were what made Volker the perfect candidate, Enslen thought, according to Volker.
So, Volker completed the online combine (a 40 yard dash and a broad jump) for the USA Bobsled/Skeleton Team and garnered a lot of attention. The attention got him an invite to the Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Lake Placid, NY, to compete in team trials.
There, Volker got a crash course on the sport; and, this past December, he successfully earned a spot on the US National Team.
Volker rides in what is called the brakeman position, the very back of both two and four man sleds. It is the position responsible for pulling the brakes at the end of the track to slow the sled on the finish ramp.
“It’s a very fun position, because, like being on the back of a rollercoaster, you really feel every one of the 5Gs that we’re pulling on the Lake Placid track,” Volker said. “It’s also very challenging because it beats you up a bit after a few runs, and the brakeman has to try his best to stay as low and locked in as possible.”
Though a change in course has prevented Volker from traveling to train and compete in Europe as would be usual, he will spend the next two months competing in the North American Cup and to compete in another National Team Trials in March to prepare for the elongated Olympic year.
Volker expects a short summer break before training next fall to compete in the World Cup next winter leading right up to the Olympic Games in Beijing February of 2022.
More about Charlie Volker …
Volker capped off his amazing athletic career at RFH with 3,955 career rushing yards (3,508 total yards and 42 touchdowns during his junior and senior years), two CJ Group 2 State Football Championships and a victory in the 100-meter dash at the NJSIAA Track and Field Meet of Champions.
He was known as a stand-out in the classroom and a spirited role model for younger students.
Vice Principal of Athletics and Student Activities, Chris Lanzalotto recalls, “Charlie was one of the hardest working student-athletes we have ever seen here at RFH, on and off the field,” RFH Vice Principal of Athletics and Student Activities Chris Lanzalotto said. “I am extremely proud of all he has accomplished and cannot wait to see him represent our country on the USA Bobsled Team.”
Upon graduation from RFH, Volker went on to attend Princeton University where he continued to excel academically and athletically, as a two-sport athlete (track and football), graduating in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in history.
Volker’s entire family is comprised of RFH graduates.
Volker credits his newfound bobsledding success to the important lessons learned as both an RFH Bulldog and a Princeton Tiger.
On the challenges presented by the pandemic in 2020, Volker said, “The most challenging part of the past year has been finding an opportunity like this. I’m someone who needs a goal to work towards and I was at a point this year where I was jobless and pursuit-less and that was very tough for me. Thankfully I have a strong support system in the form of family, girlfriend, friends, coaches and teachers who I was able to reach out to for guidance. I’m looking forward to everything this opportunity has to offer. I can’t wait to experience and learn from all of it!”
— Edited, rewritten press release from RFH