▪ The Blue Devils have three upcoming home meets Friday, Jan. 27; Friday, Feb. 3; and Friday, Feb. 10
For the last four years, Carlie and Chloe Beatty have been all in as they lead, flip, cheer on and support their 18-member Blue Devil gymnastics team at UW-Stout.
Off the mat and apparatuses, the twin sisters are fully behind another tight-knit team, their 18 Alaskan huskies, whether working with them at the family kennel near Lakeville, Minn., mushing through the snow on training runs in northern Minnesota or competing in sled dog races — someday maybe even the famous Iditarod in Alaska.
As seniors — Chloe now as student manager because of an injury — they are preparing for a lifetime of being around animals. The next step in their lives will come in December when they graduate in applied science with a biology concentration then continue their education with the goal of becoming veterinarians.
Applied science is part of UW-Stout’s prehealth sciences pathway, which prepares graduates for a variety of health-related fields, such as medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry, optometry, chiropractic and more.
“Going to a college like UW-Stout that supports our interests has been really helpful with what we want to do, and love, with our future,” said Carlie, who is competing on balance beam and in floor exercise this season.
Family members have just assumed for years that they would go into the veterinary field because of their lifelong love for animals, which included training their two cocker spaniels to pull a sled.
With more free time this winter as manager, Chloe plans to run a sled dog team in the 40-mile Klondike Dog Derby on Saturday, Feb. 4, on Lake Minnetonka at Excelsior, Minn.
“It’s really eye-opening to me the trust you have with your dogs. It’s also like gymnastics: You have to trust your coaches and trust each other, be there for each other. It’s super cool to be part of,” Chloe said.
They have competed in seven races apiece so far in their mushing careers, each taking a second place in the 40-mile event at the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon in Duluth, Minn. Chloe expects to be a handler this year at that Sunday, Jan. 29, race for another musher, Rita Wehseler, their mentor and from whom they bought their first team of dogs while in sixth grade.
“The coolest thing about mushing is that there are no age groups, and men and women race against each other. Everyone is in it together, and the mushing community is just there to support each other and help each other on the trail,” Carlie said. “In some races we’ve been the youngest competitors by 30 years.”
“It is an amazing sport to watch and participate in. It’s an amazing feeling being out on the trail with your dogs,” Chloe said. “There’s a lot of trust between the dogs and the musher. You learn everything about them.”
Labs, experiences support veterinarian plans
The sisters’ involvement with sled dogs has helped inspire them to become veterinarians and helped prepare them. Vet checks for dog health are standard prior to and at checkpoints during the races, and the sisters already are used to giving their puppies vaccine shots.
Their applied learning experiences at UW-Stout also have helped. “Growing up pretty much outside, the hands-on education has been a plus,” Chloe said.
“I love the medical program. We’ve had so many lab opportunities. The polytechnic aspect is super cool and has helped us learn so much. The professors have been great, being really personable and supportive. You can go into so many areas with this degree,” she added.
Chloe was an assistant in the Cadaver Lab last semester in Jarvis Hall, and both of them took the Cadaver Dissection course taught by Dr. Alex Hall, staff physician and senior lecturer in the biology department.
“In this course, students are able to get hands-on and really explore human anatomy in a way that no software program or set of models can provide,” Hall said. “Chloe and Carlie were great additions to the class. Not only are they both great at working in teams, but they’ve also used their internships to work in animal hospitals, giving them an advanced set of technical skills.
“They then brought those skills into the classroom, helping their fellow students learn how to handle the scalpel, forceps and other instruments. It was such a great example of the applied learning, career focus and collaboration that we work to foster here at Stout,” Hall said.
The sisters’ professional experiences through the university’s Cooperative Education and Internship Program include Carlie at Shamrock Animal Hospital in Rosemount, Minn., and Chloe at AK Sled Dog Tours in Talkeetna, Alaska. Carlie received a Student of the Year award from the co-op program.
The Alaska tour operation is run by Dallas Seavey, five-time winner of the Iditarod, which is an 1,100-mile race across Alaska. Chloe has worked the last two summers at the business and plans to return this summer. The work includes tours on the Cataract glacier in Talkeetna and Palmer, Alaska.
They met Seavey in 2015 at the Iditarod while helping with another dog team. “Guiding has helped push me to want that dream even more of running dogs and doing the Iditarod and being a vet to help them more,” Chloe said.
The Beattys have even started a student Veterinary Club on campus, and their hobby has become part of team culture. The word “onby,” which mushers shout to their dogs as they prepare to pass another team, is used to remind the Blue Devils the importance of the team concept.
“What happens when a sled dog team has one dog that is lying down, another biting the ankles of the one in front of them and one running in the opposite direction? Is that sled dog team as efficient and successful as the other teams that choose to work together? Our team of 18 beautiful people led by Chloe and Carlie are choosing to work together in 2023,” gymnastics Coach Becky Beaulieu said.
Hooked on the sport
Beaulieu recruited the sisters from the Classic Gymnastics Club in Minnesota. They have been in gymnastics since age 3 and also played soccer while growing up. The family has four horses, and Carlie has competed in dressage competitions.
Their interest in sled dogs began in second grade when their teacher gave them the book about the sport, “Born to Pull.” Then came a sled dog ride with a musher up north in Ely, Minn., near where their family has a cabin on a lake.
“We loved the ride. We’ve been doing it ever since,” Carlie said.
Ely, near the vast Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Gunflint Trail, is a hot spot for mushing in the Upper Midwest. The sisters take their eager teams on training runs through the wilderness into Canada.
This winter, Chloe has done overnight winter camping and mushing trips by herself and with her parents into the BWCA, crossing frozen lakes and following canoe portage and sled dog routes. “You can mush to places you can’t get to on foot, where other people have never been before,” Carlie said.
Their dogs are Alaskan huskies, a working dog mix of Siberian husky, pointer, chow and many other breeds. Because of their fitness and high quality diet, they can live to be 18.
“We may be gymnasts, but they’re the true athletes,” Chloe said.
The sisters have become ambassadors as well, speaking at schools and giving rides to help keep the sport alive. “It used to be a form of transportation, and a lot of people don’t know it’s still around, Being a guide, you get to educate people on these amazing dogs and athletes,” Chloe said.