BOURBONNAIS — Before he arrived at Olivet Nazarene University, Mitch Unrein spent the summer going to training camps. The Puerto Rico practice turned into a mini-vacation, while the one that ended two weeks ago in Texas proved to be one final tune-up.
When the defensive end and his wife said goodbye in Dallas, he flew to Chicago to start his second season with the Bears. Corey, the reason for all the training camps, flew home to Colorado and then, as if in a dream, to Rio de Janeiro.
Sunday, Corey Cogdell-Unrein, a trap shooter, will compete in her third Olympics. She won the bronze in 2008 and finished 11th in a stressful 2012 Games.
Her husband will watch — from home. His bosses didn’t want Unrein to travel so far from camp, so he’ll open his computer on the Bears’ off day and stare at a live stream.
“Obviously I would have loved to have him with me in Rio,” Corey said this week via phone from Brazil. “It’s just such a unique experience. Not very many people can say they’ve watched their wife compete in the Olympics.
“But I totally understand that he has commitments to the Bears.”
It’s part of what’s made their relationship work — “We both understand each other’s jobs,” Mitch said — since they met on a blind date the night before the 2011 Super Bowl.
Both are elite athletes and feel more comfortable in the middle of competition than watching from the stands. Mitch feel jitters more than she will, even from far away, because he has no control over the outcome.
“It’s crazy how much time and effort the Olympians put into this one event, and it happens every four years,” said Mitch, who has been married for two years. “Football, I couldn’t imagine working out for four years and getting to play one season — or one game, if that.”
Truthfully, it might have been weird for Corey if Mitch travelled to Brazil. In a sport that’s 95 percent mental, Corey embraces routine, and she usually travels to events without him.
She still wonders how she would have shot four years ago had there not been a crisis in her life — death threats on social media by extremist anti-hunting groups. She needed a security detail during the Games.
“That was something I was thinking about the day of my competition,” she said.
Unrein thinks her mind is clear.
“I know that she’s one of the best shooters in the world,” he said. “If she has a really good day Sunday, there’s no doubt she can win the gold medal.”
The couple talked about the threat of the Zika virus. Corey was more concerned with it affecting her shooting — she’s been wearing long sleeves and bug spray to be safe — than its impact on their future family.
They won’t try to have their first child during the first two or months after the Olympics, anyway. Because men carry the virus longer than women, Mitch staying back has at least one advantage.
They’ve been talking and texting all week — “Hopefully he’ll steel some of my nerves,” Corey said — with Unrein wearing his loyalty across his chest. He’s donning USA T-shirts and hats, and figures to get his fellow linemen their own gear when Corey goes to the post-Games sale in Colorado Springs. He did the same four years ago; defensive line coach Jay Rodgers still has his.
“All the sizes they have left are 3XLs,” Unrein said. “So it’s perfect.”
Corey, who will move to Chicago in October when her season is over, could shoot in the 2020 Olympics, too. Mitch wants to attend then, if he’s not a 33-year-old NFL player — the definition of a good problem to have.
“I know it’s not going to last forever, the sports that we do,” he said. “So you can’t take it for granted and you gotta enjoy each day.
“We’re going to grow up sooner or later.”