On July 27, the world will be watching as the Olympic Games begin in London, England. Among the athletes and officials representing Canada, there will be some familiar faces from the University of Calgary.
Student swimmers Erica Morningstar and Amanda Reason will be there, and track star Sam Effah is hoping to don the red and white maple leaf of the Canadian team.
Bonnie MacRae-Kilb, BPE’83, a board member of the University of Calgary Alumni Association and Senate, will be attending the Olympics with her husband Brad Kilb, a senior kinesiology instructor. The two were chosen to be statisticians for men’s and women’s volleyball—part of a select group of 16 from around the world.
All five say they’re grateful to the University of Calgary for its role in preparing them for the Olympic stage.
“As a kid you have far out dreams about wanting to go to the moon; you want to do big things. One of those things for me was the Olympics,” says Effah, the 2011 Canadian champion in the 100 metres. “To actually make that happen is crazy to think, but I train hard and I think I truly deserve to be there.”
For Morningstar, the 2011 University of Calgary female athlete of the year, London will be her second Olympic trip, after competing in Beijing in 2008. “Last time, it was about going to compete and getting into the semi-finals and finals. This time, I want to win a medal and I want to win it badly.”
Morningstar qualified in April for the 200-metre individual medley. Reason qualified at the same trials, and will compete in the 4x200-metre relay. The first-year marketing major at the Haskayne School of Business was shocked she made the cut but happy to have familiar faces on her team. “It’s a weird feeling, kind of like a feeling of security. I know Erica is going to have my back over there and I will have hers.”
MacRae-Kilb, Dinos Hall of Fame inductee, a former national team member and three-time All-Canadian volleyball player with the Dinos, says her experience as an athlete and coach prepared her for a role as an Olympic official. Besides, she laughs, “At 51, how else are you going to get to the Olympics?”
Morningstar says it’s been challenging to juggle classes towards her communications degree while getting ready for the Games. Extra travelling for training camps has left little time for her to compete at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport level this year, but she’s kept up with her classes, taking online courses in the winter semester to allow more time to focus on swimming.
“A lot of my profs have been very good at helping me know what I would be missing, or giving me extensions for writing tests when I get back,” she says.
For Effah, University of Calgary coaches were as big a draw as the reputation of the university itself. “I knew the coaching was great and many athletes have gone to school here. Seeing a fellow student (2008 Olympian Jessica Zelinka) go to the Olympics is huge,” says Effah. “I wanted to make sure I had a good education, too, and the Haskayne School of Business has a very reputable name.”
While Effah has taken the 2011-2012 year off from classes to focus on qualifying for the Olympics, and hopefully a place on the podium, he stays close with his Dinos teammates.
“I like to be involved with clubs on campus still. Just because I am running in different places around the world doesn’t mean I can’t still have the same friends,” says Effah.
For Kilb and MacRae-Kilb, they see their Olympic moment as a culmination of their time at the university as athletes, coaches and instructors.
“We are very fortunate to be part of the University of Calgary family,” says Kilb.