My Rowing Career in a Book: My mom’s incredible labour of love

“Once there was a dream… The result is history”

My mom gave me an amazing gift for Christmas this year. It’s the most incredible book/binder that includes all the press clippings that she had kept from my entire rowing career.

Apparently it’s been her project for months. She was working on it all summer: sorting, cutting, compiling…. From the scribble page in my high school note book that was and ode to the sport I was just learning in 1986* (!!!! How did she find THAT!), through Jr. Worlds, rowing/awards at Western University, Sr Worlds, PanAms, Commonwealth Games, Olympic Games, Arctic adventures, snowboarding, triathlons, fundraising, sponsorships, profiles, Kilimanjaro climbs, awards, inductions, Olympic bids, PanAm bids, civic/ambassador events, job announcements, car articles, home reno articles, more fundraising, mentoring and … finally my book launch in 2012. Coopers and Lybrand, Timex, Pert Plus, Milk, AT&T, Avon, Pepsi, Zurich Financial put me in some incredible campaigns. Each clipping she included shows the date, and which newspaper – usually via a clipping from that days newspaper.

It’s all there.

There is stuff I forgot and pictures and articles that I never saw. There are event, sponsorship and promotional notices that I would never have kept – but are kind of cool to see again. (Not to mention a crazy collection of long hair, straight hair, curly hair, pony tailed hair, short hair, and …very often messy hair shots)

It was all from “that” pile of newspapers and magazines in an armoire – often referred to as ‘old crap’, because quite honestly – that’s what it looked like. It looked like nothing… until my mom brought out all the little bits that counted to her… and to me.

I can’t believe the incredible list of journalists who continued to pop-up throughout the 26 years that this book covers. It brought tears to my eyes to see how much of my life the late Randy Starkman (Toronto Star) had documented.

My story was also told by so many other great Canadian sport journalists. Elliot Friedman, (The Western Gazette), Jim Proudfoot (Toronto Star), Rosie Dimanno (Toronto Star), Terry Jones (Edmonton Sun), Christie Blatchford (Toronto Sun), Mary Jollimore (Globe and Mail), Randy Starkman (Toronto Star), Steve Buffery (Financial Post, Toronto Sun), James Christie (Globe and Mail), Dave Perkins (Toronto Star), Cam Cole (Vancouver Sun), Steve Simmons (Toronto Sun), James Deacon (Macleans), Wendy Long (Vancouver Sun), Beverly Smith (Globe and Mail), Jim Kernaghan (Toronto Sun), Neil Stevens (CP), Dave Feschuck (National Post, ) and Patricia Young (Globe and Mail). And there were many others too – my mom selected articles from papers across the country – since her friends had sent them everything they had kept for me/her too.

It was an incredible effort by my mom- but who is fooling who?! An athlete’s career is their parents’ career too. My parents believed in me, supported me, encouraged me and cheered for me. They were rocks when I struggled, my number one fans regardless of my results and my constant resource to share my unfiltered emotions. (You want to know what an athlete REALLY thinks – their confidence, their frustrations, and their fears?? Ask their parents!!)

Thank you mom. I may not leave it out on my coffee table, it might be a bit much to leave The Book of ME out like that, but I will treasure it always; partly because it shows what I did, but mostly because it shows what you did. I love you mom.

* included with the limited number of rowing words I knew in my first year of rowing is this little gem of a self-promise…”I will one day go to the olympics and represent my country in the rowing events. Myself and my friends and my country will be proud.

2 thoughts on “My Rowing Career in a Book: My mom’s incredible labour of love

  1. Hi Marnie!

    I saw this link through Illoana Smith (coxie before your time)…brought tears to my eyes! Now the mother of three young women, two of which are high level athletes I realizes the triumphs and tribulations are indeed shared and treasured by both child and parent.

    What a perfect gift, cheers Jane

  2. Hi Marnie –
    I was a youngish reporter with the St. Catharines Standard when I tracked you down, unannounced ,near the boathouse at Fanshawe in the spring of ’99. I was so scared to approach you, but first asked to pet your dog before asking if you’d would answer a few questions. You were very kind and it gave me the gumption to follow your scrum a few weeks later on Henley Island – Sun, Globe, Star and me!
    We cornered you at picnic table where you were perusing Emily Dickinson, I believe!
    There I learned those seasoned male reporters were also intimidated by the strength you exuded. I was amazed, really!.
    I have a rower daughter, a lightie, who won a Schoolboy silver medal (.0017 photo finish with Saratoga) in a jr 8 her first time out! I avidly follow the university races of her former ‘mates, now at Queen’s, McGill and Tennesee! (Hamilton Westdale women Warriors rock….as does Leander, of course!) .
    It’s unlikely Grace will row at university but I think she’ll be at the boathouse in some fashion – a smidge too big to coxie.
    I grew up loving sports, but usually watching my guy pals play hockey. Most of my career has been as a high school sports reporter and I’ve seen the extraordinary growth of so many talented girls into accomplished women.
    Hope you don’t wince at those of us who think of you as a pioneer – can’t quite find a better word at the moment.
    I recall how you ooozed such strength and power and that I wasn’t the only reporter who was….well, scared of you – but in a very good way!!!
    Heading to Erie next week to give my “boy” your book as a birthday present. He’s a 2nd-yr rower for Adrian Spracklen at Mercyhurst, though has raced because of injury yet.
    More power!!!!
    Thanks you, for so many reasons!!!

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