Plumber Achieves Olympic Dream

Snowboarder Jonathan Cheever has supported his athletic aspirations through the plumbing trade and will compete in the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, beginning this week

Plumber Achieves Olympic Dream
(Photo by the Boston Globe)

This week, the Winter Olympics kick off in PyeongChang, South Korea. To achieve that Olympic dream, athletes dedicate a lot of time to training — over the course of their lives and especially in the four years leading up to an Olympic Games.

But it’s also oftentimes not a lucrative endeavor. Outside of their Olympic-caliber training regimen, many athletes must maintain fairly regular lives with a day job. For American snowboarder Jonathan Cheever, that day job has been plumbing.

Cheever, 32, has been balancing a professional life of both snowboarding and plumbing for more than a decade now. The PyeongChang Games will be his first Olympics. He competes in snowboard cross, where athletes in groups of four to six race one another down a course.

“If money was the motivating factor, I would be installing toilets or water heaters,” Cheever told NBC Sports. “I race snowboards because I love everything about it. Hopefully, I can line up enough sponsors where, you know, the plumbing is more of a side thing than a main source of income.”

Jonathan Cheever does some work at the U.S. Ski Team facilities in Colorado.

One of Cheever’s biggest sponsors for several years now is in the plumbing arena — Bradford White Water Heaters. The company logo graces Cheever’s boards.

Cheever grew up in plumbing. His father has been a plumber in Massachusetts for more than 30 years. Like many who grow up in a plumbing family, Cheever got his start around age 10 sorting plumbing fixtures for his father — about the same time that he also began snowboarding.

Later, Cheever pursued his plumbing license while also being enrolled at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell for mechanical engineering. He decided to leave school after a year to move to Utah and pursue a snowboarding career while supporting himself through the plumbing trade. He found success in snowboarding — especially early on — but until this year had fallen short of making an Olympic team. A ruptured Achilles’ tendon hurt his competition results in recent years, but now he says he feels fully recovered.

“Right now, I feel bigger, faster, stronger, and healthier than ever. I don’t think the injuries are affecting my snowboarding anymore at all,” he told the Boston Globe.

And as long as Cheever wants to pursue what he calls an “expensive hobby,” he has plumbing to help support it. He takes courses twice a year to maintain his plumber’s license, and always has his tools in his truck.

“It’s kind of the life of a rock star, without the money,” Cheever’s father, Mark, told the Boston Globe. “He’s seeing the world’s exotic places, he has friends all over the world, and he does it on a dime instead of a dollar. The only pressure I put on him is that when you have four months off, come home and work. Make a couple bucks to get you through the season.”

Sources: NBC Sports; Boston Globe


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