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Bend Clinic Re-Cap

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After Canada, we ventured south to Oregon…the land of hops and ales. Based southeast of Mount Hood with the famous Deschutes River flowing through it, Bend Oregon is a really cool town with a booming community and hip vibe.

Our first stop was to meet one of our students, Gregory Dixon, a professional Tele Ski Instructor for the PSIA, and a really great person to know. He opened up his space to our gypsy crew and made us feel right at home. After we completely overtook his house with rounds of laundry from our Skookumchuck adventures and power drainage from all of our devices needing to get recharged, we onewheeled over to Tumalo Creek Canoe and Kayak to meet Sue, our connection to the shop and one of our other students in the course.

Tumalo Creek Canoe and Kayak is right on the Deschutes River, and a stones throw away from the Bend Whitewater Park. They offer rentals for every water craft you can imagine, and are fully stocked with any and all items to help you outfit your next water adventure. We decided to meet up there first, let the students purchase any last minute items for the weekend, and then walked next door to Craft Kitchen and Brewery, where we planned our Meet and Greet. The shop really helped us spread the word to the community about our clinic, and we were happy with the turnout.

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In our clinic was Sue Fox, one of the head honchos for Tumalo, and her employee, Greg Dixon. Also we had Angela Salido, who lives right on the river with her partner who helped support part of the planning for the whitewater park. Next we had Heidi Michele and her partner Brock Butterfield, 2 avid bus enthusiasts who had recently re-located to Oak Ridge Oregon, a small yet booming town for mountain biking and all things adventure. They invited their friend, Megan Jarvis, a local who had only been on a sup a few times, and shocked us with how quickly she improved in just a few days. We had several others drive from northern oregon to increase their whitewater/surf skills, both Cheryl Johnson and Leilani Gibson took on the major trek to join us for the weekend. Our last paddler, Kenny Good, heard about our clinics and decided to drive the many hours from Reno, NV to build his skills to shred at his local spot, Sparks Whitewater Park on the Truckee River.

The weather for the weekend looked to be a bit chilly, but ended up being an advantage for us considering the park wasn’t as busy and we were able to have it mostly to ourselves. Day 1 was all about getting the crew dialed on their whitewater skills including ferries, peel-outs, and eddy turns to help their successes for surfing. Day 2, Brittany educated them on fins, types of sup surf boards, and how to read friendly/unfriendly waves. We started the crew at a pretty small wave on their knees so they could get comfortable with entry, edging, and swimming back to the eddy. After lunch, the crew was eager to stand up and try their best at surfing the bottom wave in the main surf channel of the park.

We had great success and every single person was able to get their surf on. There’s something magical about seeing the spark in someone’s eye right after their first surf. It brings out a sense of child like giddiness that doesn’t really go away. We call it PERMA-SMILE. It’s contagious and it’s all you can think about until your next ride. Everyone caught the surf bug that day, “Just one more” was all we heard until the cold set in and forced them to stop.

We couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to come together and support one another throughout the weekend. Seeing the communities grow around the parks is really exciting for us. This was the vision we had when we first created RVR 2 RVR, and the hopes that we could be part of that growth. We can’t wait to come back to Bend, to spend more time on the river getting to know the locals and the latest and tastiest beer. Tumalo Creek was such a great shop to collaborate with, and you better believe we’ll be back next spring to hang out and surf with them again.



The Skookumchuck Shut Down

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Skookumchuck was our last big trip before the clinic tour was to go back into full-throttle. We spent only five days there and could’ve spent much more. The wather was cool and the air crisp. We woke up to the sound of the sea lapping on the shore, surrounded by pine trees, and small rocky islands.

The village of Egmont is tiny with one pub and a small market. We were removed from service and strong wifi. It was just what we needed to recharge and get excited for upcoming clinic in Bend.

Skook is a tidal rapid. Only coming in during max. flood tide and for two to three hours. The wave is a freak! It’s glassy and tall, you can get the speed off of it like a moving ocean wave. It’s something of an anomaly. We’ll paddle into it from the marina during slack tide when the inlet is quiet; looking at the colorful marine life on the way.

Then we sit and wait, as the tide starts to move in we watch the wave build; starting from a ripple. You’ve got little time to get in there and surf it while it’s building before it hits max. As the wave gets bigger the swim gets gnarlier. Massive whirlpools, boils, and crashing waves build behind it. The swim is a luck of the draw, hanging on to the board, somewhat powerless hoping Skook will be forgiving and let you pass through without a whirl pool forming and taking you for a ride.

My first surf of the trip was great, smooth and fast. I could cut back hard; it felt like my board was slicing through butter. My swim was not so great. All progress I made paddling back into the eddy was shut down as a boil pushed me right back into the eddy line where some of the strongest whirl pools form.

I was gripped! All fours were wrapped around the board as I started spinning closer and closer to the center. Skook wasn’t feeling very merciful as it grabbed my legs and sent me into an underwater spiral. My leash was tight and my board was tombstoning at the surface. It felt like I was getting spun in an underwater tornado. Although I stayed fairly calm in the chaos I was scared as I began to climb my leash trying to reach the surface.

Once it released me I didn’t have time to feel relief or rest, I was back on my board fighting against the boils trying to get to a space where I could catch my breath.

I didn’t get back in the water that day. Laying in bed I kept reliving it, I would drift off to sleep and would wake up unable to breath. Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve gotten downtime and probably not the longest. But for some reason this one really shook me. I struggled for the rest of the trip to get back in the water at that same level.

My surf time this trip was pretty small, I wasn’t upset or disappointed. Just surprised to be so deeply effected.

Skook is extremely humbling and also life-changing. You’ll get the best surfs of your life there and maybe some of the worst swims. It’s trying to find the balance between the two. When the surfs are no longer worth the swims that’s when I know it’s time to stop.

It’s been two years since I was last at Skook. My swims were really tame my first year. I’m grateful it happened; I’m stronger because of it. And I can’t wait to go back next year to make peace with it. IMG_5420

2016 River Racing Recap

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Photo Credit: Jordan Curet of Women’s Gear Guide

Team RVR 2 RVR is officially done competing for the whitewater race season. We have had a hell of a time training, racing, swimming, and cheers-ing our competitors both on and off the water. It has been really rewarding seeing the sport grow so fast. Our race courses are getting harder, and the athletes are stepping up and dominating the challenge.

Dan Gavere and his team, created a new event this year at the Go Pro Mountain Games, called the Sup Skills Invitational. The course looked similar to a Sup Slalom course where you have strategic gates placed throughout a stretch of river and are timed on how fast you can paddle around them and the other features.

Athletes from around the world were invited to prove their skills and abilities to navigate the course with the speed and fluidity. It was such a fun event, and RVR 2 RVR co-founder/instructor, Natali Zollinger ended up displaying what it means to understand and paddle whitewater with her 1st place win in this event. Other podiums that weekend came from another RVR 2 RVR Instructor, Nadia Almuti, with her 3rd place podium spot in the Sup Cross event.

That next weekend, the team drove to Salida to attend FIBArk, America’s Oldest Whitewater Festival and the first ever, Colorado Sup Championships. The Salida Whitewater Park is one of the funnest and most challenging parks we get to race on. The weekend started with a surf competition on Friday, Sup cross competition on Saturday, and 10 mile Downriver Sprint on Sunday. Team RVR 2 RVR, came out on top with Natali Zollinger placing 2nd in Sup Cross, and 2nd overall for the Colorado Sup Championships with Nadia Almuti right next to her with a 3rd place overall.


We are officially done with the Whitewater Race Season, and are looking forward to the next two months of clinics. But first, we are rewarding ourselves with a short break from social media and are headed up to chase the legendary Skookumchuck wave that was in the film “Can I Surf That” (available for download).

Check out the rest of our tour schedule and sign up today, spots are filling up fast! We hope to see you on the water!


8-10 Bend, OR

15-16 Boise, ID

17 Cascade, ID  (Surf Clinic)

22-24 Whitefish, MT

29-31 Missoula, MT


12-14 Glenwood Springs, CO

19-21 Moab, UT

We hope to paddle with you soon!

Until then…here’s to Health, Highwater, and the Pursuit of Happiness

We Are River Surfers!

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The Colorado rivers are a dirty brown and full of debris; the rivers are on the rise, it’s time to grab your surfboards. Welcome to the Colorado highwater season. This is the time of year when everyone comes out of the woodwork to surf the Glenwood Wave. I’ve been camped out at the wave for the past week and I’ve seen so many familiar faces; some locals and some traveling from places as far as Japan.

Glenwood attracts all kinds of people some of them ocean surfers surfing a river wave for the first time and others who leave the coast every year to enjoy the endless wave. I’m always interested in knowing how others feel the river compares to the ocean; is it scarier or more challenging? I was talking to a friend from Santa Cruz, as we sat on the bank in our wetsuits catching our breath after the long swim, he said
“I’m way more afraid of this than I am the ocean.”

Coming from someone who surfs at one of the sharkiest points on the California coast this statement surprised me. This shows how different the two worlds are. In the ocean you know the wave will always let you go, waves build, crash, then disappear. In the river everything is stationary besides the current. The river presents hazards such as recirculation, foot entrapments, and pins. These are all dangers that I feel I can avoid, for the most part. Identifying holes that will recirculate and avoiding them, not putting my feet down in moving current that’s up past my knees, and swimming away from possible pin situations. I’m in control as much as someone in a 17,000 CFS river can be in control. My experience enables me to be comfortable in the river. Just like an ocean surfer’s experience allows them to be comfortable in the ocean.

But sharks, man, it may be an irrational fear but it definitely exists. When I expressed this to my friend he assured me there were ways to mitigate the risk,
“Avoid murky water and refrain from going out during or after a good rain as this is when food and nutrients get mixed up and sharks are more likely to be feeding.”

I had no idea.

Later that day I was talking to another friend from California, he had some really nice things to say about the river surfing world. Him and his crew come up for GoPro Mountain Games every year and they always make it a point to stop in Glenwood to surf. He told me,
“I love stopping here because the crew is always so positive, everyone’s cheering each other on, people are chatting each other up in the line-up. It’s just so different from what you get in the ocean.”

I love getting different perspectives on river surfing from people who come from a world so different and so far from ours. At the end of the day we are all there for our love of surfing, for that sweet feeling of gliding across the surface, of being moved by the forces of the water…and in that we are exactly the same.

We are river surfers!


CKS Paddlefest Recap

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CKS Paddlefest was this passed weekend and the RVR 2 RVR Crew rolled in to train, paddle, surf, and teach. Staircase wave was our first stop to dip our fins in the water and connect with the river. Buena Vista is an awesome town that has a cool and hip vibe. Their whitewater park is legit, and home to some fun waves to shred on.

A surf competition started the event festivities off with a bang and a huge turnout! They were able to fill the two divisions of both amateur and pro for both men and women providing some stout competition for the wave.

Team Badfish swept both podiums giving the crowd some exciting entertainment. For the women’s pro division, Natali Zollinger ranked 3rd, Brittany Parker ranked 2nd, and their new team rider, Vanessa Taylor came in first with a solid performance stemming from her background of training on the Animas River in Durango, Colorado. For the men’s pro division, Team Badfish also swept the podium with Mike Tavaras in 3rd, Spencer Lacey in 2nd, and Miles Harvey placing 1st.

Saturday morning the locals and tourists started to filter in and the event was off to a strong start. The store was packed, the pond was full, and the river park was busy with vendors, music, and athletes training and competing on the water. The SUP Downhill race started at 6pm and there were over 20 paddlers on the water looking to claim that $75 dollar podium cash as their own.

The women’s heat started first since their were only 5 paddlers who entered the race. They decided the first heat would determine the seeding for the 2nd and final heat. The buzzer went off, the crowed started to cheer, and the women’s race was off! Natali Zollinger had a solid performance coming in 1st, with Cami Swan in 2nd, Jenny MacArthur in 3rd, Trinity Wall in 4th, and Nadia Almuti in 5th. After all the men went through to determine their final heat, the women were up again to decide their podium places. After another strong finish, Natali Zollinger came in 1st again, following by Jenny MacArthur in 2nd, and Nadia Almuti in 3rd.

For the men, the final heat consisted of Bradley Hilton, Mike Tavaras, Spencer Lacey, and Bodhi Harrison, all Team Badfish Riders racing the new 11′ Inflatable Hole shot board. After a crowd pleasing performance, Bradley Hilton managed to hold the lead the whole race coming in 1st, followed by Mike Tavaras in 2nd, Spencer Lacey in 3rd, and Bodhi Harrison in 4th.

Sunday Morning turned out to be a great day for the festival bringing in sunshine, blue skies, and happy paddlers. Natali Zollinger led a Sup Maneuvers course through RMOC with one of their top sup instructors, Josh Oberleas. They started across from RMOC at Hecla Juction to introduce the new paddlers to current, ferry’s, peelouts, and eddy turns. After lunch, they took the group to Salida Whitewater Park to put their new skills to the test with stronger current, bigger eddy’s, and more features. The group did well, and now they have a ton of skills to practice for the summer.

Overall, we had an awesome time, met a lot of new faces, and are excited about this summer’s events. The community around the river is contagious, and if you haven’t had a chance to be part of it, we challenge you to join us and jump right in to ride the mountain swell.

Building a Foundation

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We are dedicated to helping the growth of stand up paddling and river surfing. Learning how to stand up paddle on rivers is not easy. There are many things to take into account; currents, eddy lines, rocks, waves, etc.. Teaching our students to work with these elements in a way that’s free of panic and resistance is our goal.

Our teaching outline was built off wanting to give people the skills to navigate rivers efficiently and safely which in turn will transition into river surfing on a stand up. There is so much enthusiasm built around river surfing and we couldn’t be more happy about that but we’ve got to build the foundation before we can get you on a river wave.

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The first day of our clinics is building that foundation. We work on ferrys, eddy turns, peel outs, and much more. These are skills that you must have before you can even begin to think about river surfing. These fundamentals will increase your success rate by 80%.

When Natali and I took our Level 3 ACA course we learned a lot, there were pieces of our very basic skills that we were missing. Even if you’ve been paddling for years I can almost always guarantee there’s some fundamental skill that could use some fine tuning. You’ll be able to navigate rivers safely and look like a boss doing it. Trust the process and join us!

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*All Photo Credit: Heather Jackson with Shrednest Productions

Mastering your Skills

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If you want to learn something, read about it. If you want to understand something, write about it. If you want to master something, teach it. -Yogi Bhajan

Brittany and I (Natali) love the river. It feeds our souls, challenges our bodies, and humbles our egos. Our desire to provide a community and space to help others understand this connection is what drove us in starting RVR 2 RVR. It was created out of that deeper relationship to the water.

It’s always been important for us to learn from the right teachers and certify under the right sources to better provide and grow a common language around the river. That is why we chose the American Canoe Association to be the certifying entity. The ACA has grown into the nation’s largest and most active nonprofit paddlesports organization across the U.S. for over 130 years. Through the tireless efforts of volunteers, committee members, board members, clubs and staff, the ACA continues to work at the grassroots, regional and national levels to promote fun and responsible canoeing, kayaking, rafting and stand up paddleboarding and advocacy for recreational access and stewardship of America’s waterways.

We’ve moved our way up the ladder these last few years and finally achieved our Level 3 Sup Instructor Trainer Certification. Both Brittany and I have been taught by our good friend and river legend, Charlie Macarthur. He has many years instructing in the outdoor industry and high standards when it comes to passing his students. We both value and respect his method and are honored when we got his thumbs up of approval.

We’re very proud to have obtained this certification, the holy grail of river SUP certs. We were nervous as hell but gave it our all, we pushed through the discomfort, and came out stronger more confident instructors.

The ACA level 1-3 course is one we would recommend to anyone with a desire to be a flatwater and/or river instructor. Big thanks again to Charlie Macarthur and all he has done for the growth of river stand up paddling.


Unplugging at Pipeline

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I live for the chase of river waves.Recently I dropped everything and drove to Northern Idaho to surf my favorite wave, Pipeline. When I learn that a wave is in either by checking flows or getting word from my fellow river surfers it excites me to hit the road for the prospect of good surf. It’s one of many the many components that make up the life of a river surfer.

It seems every time I visit this wave I leave feeling aligned with who I am and what my intentions are. Part of the reason of this is I have to completely unplug when I’m there. There’s no service; just some spotty wifi twenty minutes down the road. Knowing this gave me a little bit of anxiety; as my job requires me to be connected most of the time and to be active on social media on an almost daily basis. I even convinced myself that I would drive to town once a day (a 45 minute drive) to connect, respond to e-mails, and post. Who was I kidding?

Once I drove across that beautiful invisible line between the connected and disconnected world I let out a breath that left behind it all the stress that I carried with me on that long drive. You never realize what being in the moment really means until you have no choice. If I was bored (which never happened) I couldn’t reach for my phone and fitfully scroll through Instagram out of fear of missing out. I sat there with my thoughts, free of distractions, and was completely present. If I felt emotion I had to confront it. If I didn’t feel like talking I did anyways. If I was bored I read a book or I wrote in my journal. It was exactly what I needed.


We live in a distracted generation and we’re using these distractions as coping mechanisms, an excuse to not sit in the front-seat of our own lives. We’re consciously looking down at our phones letting the world pass us by. I’m guilty of this, I use the excuse “but it’s my job”; and that’s only partly true. Just like any job boundaries need to be set. When I’m sitting with a group of friends or family at dinner scrolling through my phone and answering to notifications that’s simply not acceptable. There’s this little voice in my head, a voice I imagine an addict hears from the substance they’re trying to let go, telling me it can’t wait. Trust me, it can wait. I was out of service for an entire week. The world kept on going and didn’t even notice that I checked out. I was better for it.

That trip was a lesson. It wasn’t the first time I’ve had this realization and it won’t be the last but every time it sticks around a little bit longer. I want to remind all of you to unplug. To go on a camping or river trip and just let go of that need to be connected. Look up from your phone, listen to the river, look the person beside you in the eye, smell the pine, and dance around the fire. You’re not going to be remembered for how many followers you have, you’re going to be remembered for unapologetically living life  fervently and without regret. Let’s not ever forget that. 

To Health & Highwater,


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River Race Season is approaching fast, and we want to make sure you are setting yourself up to have a fun and successful season. Below is a basic outline of the 4 different style training blocks and a sample overview of how to incorporate them into your training schedule. If you are looking to start a program specific to your sport or race season, contact me (Natali), and I can help you build one.

1. Rest/Recovery Block (1-2 months)

You should start any intense training program with a healthy and recovered body. You need to be 100% confident with being fully rested from the previous years activities before going into another season. You should take 1-2 months to enjoy life, minimize stress load, visit family, try new activities, cross train or take a vacation. You should also be focusing on, or start a consistent bodywork schedule. Whether it be yoga, pilates, sports massage, foam rolling, structural integration, reiki, reflexology, tai chi, or chiropractic work, you should pick ones that you connect with and stick to them throughout the year. My favorite recovery method after every race season is a 10 session Rolf Series that focuses on re-aligning your fascial tissue to improve movement and optimum human function. I love it and would recommend anyone to try it out!

This is also a good time to add in low levels of cross training. Changing up your workouts by adding new movements will help you be an all around better paddler and athlete. This is where I like to hang out with my friends/family to go mountain biking, road biking, rock climbing, swimming, trail running, or hiking. No need to go hard, this is your time to have fun and try something new.

2. Base Level of Fitness Block (2-4 months)

Only when you feel fully rested and recovered is when you can start developing a base level of fitness. Establish this first before adding on the heavy stress loads of training to your body. Take the next 2-4 months to introduce low to high intensity mixed with short/long durations of exercises that focus on breath, form, technique, and balanced movements. This is a great time to get a membership at a gym to maintain a weekly workout schedule that should include:

  • 2-3 days of cardio endurance (running, swimming, and biking)
  • 2-3 days of specific paddle training (power, form, technique)
  • 2-3 days of strength training (weights or crossfit)
  • 6-7 days of mobility work (yoga, foam rolling, pilates)
  • 1-2 days of higher intensity cross training (hiking, mountain biking, climbing, trail running)
  • 2-3 days of body weight training (squats, lunges, pushups, pullups, planks)

You can do 2 a days (2 different exercises in the same day), but be smart and don’t overdue it! Rest and Recovery is a huge portion of training throughout the year. Listen to your body and take several breaks throughout this time frame.

3. Pre Season Block  (3-4 months)

As an athlete the next 3-4 months leading up to your race season should be your hardest training block yet. During this phase of training, paddle intensity and workouts should be increased. Time to focus on the other parts of racing too: race starts, buoy turns, passing paddlers on the river, drafting, and race finishes should be practiced in all conditions (good and bad). It’s good to train in the uncomfortable and the unfamiliar so your body never gets “USED” to just one style or condition of training.

You should also be practicing: paddling through rapids, navigating the current, eddy (buoy) turns, peel outs, or paddling through gates all while varying your intensity and speeds throughout the workout. In this block, getting a HR watch (I recommend the fenix 3 from Garmin) will help you understand what heart rate zones you should be in and when to challenge these while increasing your work load and Vo2max. Make sure to maintain good form and technique as you continue to add physical stress to your body.

If you are in the same city/area for this block, consider joining a gym or a crossfit box to maintain strength and work load. But don’t forget to balance out these higher cycles of stress with cycles of rest, repair, and recovery.

4. Race Season (2-3 months)

This is the block where all your hard work finally pays off! You should continue training, but varying your load from week to week. HIIT (high intensity interval training) is a great phase to be in during your competition block, by increasing your intensity, but shortening your workout times. Think Short, Hard and To the point, but don’t forget to allow for rest and recovery days as needed. As you get closer to your final events, decrease your training and rely solely on all that hard work you’ve done to carry you through the rest of the season. Remember, less is more, listen to your body and don’t overtrain!


I hope this helps and gives you a better understanding of how to train throughout the year. If you’re interested in starting your own specific program, contact me (Natali), I’d love to help set you up for success!

To Health, Highwater, and the Pursuit of Happiness




Five Girls, Two Vans

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We’re five women traveling in two vans. Our plans are changing daily and our expectations are continuously challenged. It’s a test of our patience and flexibility. Some choose to travel solo just because they want to move by the beat of their own drum. Admittedly, I see the appeal but I believe traveling with friends is a true test of friendship and an opportunity for personal growth. Having the ability to let go of expectations and go with the flow is such a valuable characteristic; and for me it’s a major key to happiness.

The RVR 2 RVR crew is finally finding their groove. We’re figuring out each others little quarks and learning how to deal with tempers. We all bring something different to the table and we’ve all got our own projects and jobs outside of this tour. Heather Jackson just recently left her job working in SEO to pursue photography full-time. Nadia Almuti is team and social media manager for a paddle board company. Heidi Michelle sews hats daily for her design business ‘Heidi Michelle Designs’ and has a full-time job as a graphic designer. Natali Zollinger is pursuing her work as a wellness coach. And Myself (Brittany), I’m managing Badfish’s marketing and team, while trying to promote myself as a freelance writer.


We don’t usually get more than 2-3 days in each location. So we try to cram in as much as we can, meanwhile allowing time to work. Many hours are spent in coffee shops, sucking the life out of their wifi and guzzling espresso. The work is what keeps this lifestyle going; balance is so important and probably the most challenging part about life on the road. When you have to choose sitting in front of your computer over going on a beautiful hike or paddling a new river, you start to wonder for a moment if you’re going a little crazy. But at the end of the day when we’re all sitting by the river drinking a beer we can all agree that this is what we’re working for. A life free of routine, full of new experiences, and new people.

We are living proof that doing what you love is within reach and if you really want it you’ll make the sacrifices necessary to achieve it.