Achieving one dream at a time
Who could have guessed that a small town girl growing up on a horse farm would become a four-time WWE Women's Champion?
Mickie James never put all her eggs in one basket, as she prepared for careers in sports-entertainment as well as in horse training and business, but in October 2005, the future champion was able to step away from the stables and into the squared circle.
Growing up in Virginia, Mickie watched wrestling whenever it was on TV. Raw, with Nitro during commercials, occupied her family's Monday nights. Her love for sports-entertainment was so evident, one of her friends put her in touch with a wrestling school in Washington D.C.
Mickie took her knowledge of WWE and her experience in martial arts and drove two and a half hours to attend the training facility.
"I went to check it out, fell in love, signed up, and I've been doing it ever since," she said. "That was 10 years ago, come November."
Shortly after, she drove even further to attend a school in Maryland, where she was exposed to specialized wrestling camps.
"I bugged the crap out of WWE," she admitted. It paid off when the company signed her in August 2003, enlisting her on the Ohio Valley Wrestling roster and prompting Mickie to move to Louisville, Ky.
Knowing she needed something to fall back on if her wrestling dream didn't come through, Mickie worked toward an associate degree in business administration. Coincidentally, her first day of classes was also her television debut on Raw.
"Nobody -- unless you're the ‘Nature Boy' Ric Flair -- can do this forever, and I realize that," she said.
After completing her associate degree, she decided she's made it this far; she might as well take a few more classes and earn her bachelor's degree, which she completed in operations management. She has no immediate plans to go back to school for a master's degree, but considers her time with WWE experience enough to make her an expert in the field.
Despite the way her life turned out, Mickie was most prepared for a career in equestrian training.
"Since I was a little girl, I wanted to train horses. Horses are my other passion. I drove myself for that and wrestling was my escape."
At one time, her family's farm housed as many as 27 horses. Mickie would take care of them by cleaning the stalls, riding them and training them. She owned a horse named Rhapsody when she turned 11 and has since added two more -- Casanova and Bunny.
"Every time I'm home, I try to go to the farm," she said. "It's a relief just to get back and relax."
In addition to enjoying spending time with her family, Mickie has made a strong effort to return home to learn more about her Native American roots.
"I've been talking to people who are closer to the heritage," she said. "I'm just trying to get back in touch with the spiritual part of it."
As a member of the Powhatan tribe, Mickie attended powwows and has learned some of the dances that go along with the tradition. Her great uncle served as medicine man of the tribe.
"It was so much simpler for them to trust themselves and be intuitive and follow their own path because they weren't distracted by modern stuff like cars and music," Mickie said, recalling the family's past. "They had to entertain themselves. I just find it very fascinating and I wish I knew more about it, so I'm on this path to gain a better understanding. It's a part of me."
Mickie considers herself a very spiritual person and she plans on becoming more involved after allowing herself stray a bit from her heritage with everything going on in her life.
Moving away from home allowed Mickie to break out of her shell. She described herself as a shy kid. Even still, she says she is more conservative than most people are led to believe.
"I was just very uncomfortable in my own skin," she said. "I was very much a nerd, too, until I turned 16 and boys became a factor and I was allowed to go on a date."
Part of her period of "going crazy" after moving out included getting inked. She got a tattoo of the Chinese symbol for love on her ankle while her boyfriend at the time got the symbol for eternity. Later on, Mickie added a dragon to her lower leg, wrapping around the Chinese mark.
"I got it to protect my love," she explained. "She wraps around and goes through it and down my foot."
Mickie joked that she has been very good at finding Mr. Wrong, but added, "I believe that each person in your life -- you're meant to meet that person whether they're right for you forever or for just that moment. There are valuable lessons to be learned in order to find your own sense of purpose and what you want out of life."
With everything going on at once, Mickie has still managed to make time to work on her fashion line, which she hopes to take off in the near future and serve as a branch to another new avenue in her life.
To call Mickie's achievements admirable would be an understatement as she has become the poster girl for doing what you love and excelling. From her work with horses and school to fashion and sports-entertainment, she has followed each and every one of her dreams and they have led her to a world of success, happiness and the possession of WWE's top prize, four times and counting.