MSU & Canadian Olympians

With the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics finally over, athletes are returning to their home countries to begin training yet again for the 2018 Olympics.  As an Olympics-enthusiast, I love being able to watch all the events I can tune in for.  This year however, was very different for me.  In the past I’ve always been a die-hard Team USA fan, but since I work at the Canadian Studies Center, I felt that I had to support Team Canada too.  For the most part it wasn’t an issue-the only time I truly felt torn was when I was watching hockey-and I was honestly happy to see the Canadian team do so well.  But something I found interesting was learning about the all the places athletes trained.  I had no idea that just because an athlete represents a certain country doesn’t necessarily mean that they train in that country.

So that got me pondering how many Canadians train in the U.S., and from there I began to wonder about their education and where they live as well.  Eventually I found myself wondering about Michigan State and whether or not we had any Olympians amongst our alumni.  After a quick google search I felt silly for even wondering that in the first place.  As a Big Ten school with outstanding athletic programs, I should have expected to find a list of Olympians over a page long.  What did surprise me though was how many different countries our Olympian alumni represented.  From South Africa, to Belgium, and Nigeria there are about a dozen different countries which have been represented by an MSU alum.  After a little research I was able to find some information on a few Canadian Olympians who attended MSU.  I’m sure you will (not) be shocked by the amount of hockey players I found.

ernestine russell weaver

(Image found at: http://campusarch.msu.edu/?p=2708)

Ernestine Russel-Weaver:  Gymnastics, 1956 (Melbourne) & 1960 (Rome) Summer Olympics.  Ernestine is originally from Windsor, Ontario.  She began as a ballerina, but soon after she took up gymnastics instead and then never stopped.  She was 17 when she competed in her first Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, and though she finished less than a point behind the gold medal winner, she won no medal herself.  She graduated high school in 1956 and in 1960 competed in her second Olympics.  Again she did not medal.  After her Olympic experiences she attended Michigan State University and earned a degree in physical education and dance.  She taught high school for five years and later she became the head coach for the University of Florida’s gymnastics team for thirteen years.

marilyn corson whitney

(Image found at:  http://marilyncorsonwhitneyphd.weebly.com/swimmer.html)

Marilyn Corson Whitney:  Women’s Swimming, 1968 (Cuidad de México) & 1972 (München) Summer Olympics.  Marilyn as born in Parry Sound, Ontario.  She was born into a swimming family, with a mother who was a top American swimmer and coach and a grandfather who was a coach at the University of Michigan as well as a coach of the 1952 American Olympic Team.  At the age of 18 she competed in the 1968 Summer Olympics, where she was on the team that won bronze in the 4×100 meter freestyle relay.  After the Games she began attending Michigan State and competed on their swim team.  Her final Olympic appearance was in 1972 where her relay team took seventh in the 4×100 meter medley relay.

jason woolley

(Image found at:  http://thehockeywriters.com/q-a-with-jason-woolley/)

Jason Woolley:  Ice Hockey, 1992 (Albertville) Winter Olympics.  Jason was born in Toronto, Ontario.  He played for Michigan State from 1988 through 1991, even though the Washington Capitals selected him 61st overall in the 1989 NHL Entry Drafts.  He played for the Canadian Olympic team at the 1992 winter Olympics in Albertville, France where he recorded five assists and scored a shootout goal.  The Canadian Ice Hockey team won the silver medal over Czechoslovakia.  He closed out his NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings. Jason is currently a player agent in Birmingham, MI.

Norris, Dwayne

(Image found at:  http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/olympians/001064-119.01-e.php?&photo_id_nbr=2566&brws_s=1&&PHPSESSID=dlbghk3a8459b5l4vpsjt2nhv0)

Dwayne Norris:  Ice Hockey, 1994 (Lillehammer) Winter Olympics.  Dwayne was born in St. Johns, Newfoundland.  He began playing hockey at a young age and played for the St. John’s Capitals of the Avalon Junior League.  He left home at the age of 14 to play for the Notre Dame Hounds.  Following his time with the Hounds he joined Michigan State where he played hockey until he joined the AHL’s Cornwall Aces after being drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft.  He played for Team Canada in the 1994 Winter Olympics where Canada’s hockey team won silver.  He is currently the director for the elite youth hockey program in Michigan, the Oakland Junior Grizzlies.

brind'amour-cupx

(Image by James Guillory, US Presswire, found at:  http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/hockey/nhl/hurricanes/2010-06-30-rod-brindamour-retires_N.htm)

Rod Brind’Amour:  Ice Hockey, 1998 (Nagano) Winter Olympics.  Rod was born in Ottawa, Ontario.  At the age of 18 Rod was drafted 9th overall in the first round of the 1988 NHL Entry Drafts by the St. Louis Blues.  The following season he attended Michigan State where he played on the hockey team where he earned the nickname “Rod the Bod” due to the fact that he was known for working out constantly, even after games.  His coach at the time said they would have to padlock the door to keep him out of the weight room occasionally.  Following this collegiate season he joined the Blues during the 1989 NHL playoffs.  In his debut game, he scored a goal on his first shot.  At the end of his first season he had scored 27 points in the first 24 games.  He continued to play in the NHL for 20 seasons.  He played for the Canadian Ice Hockey Team at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, but Team Canada did not medal.  He currently acts as the assistant coach and development coach for the Carolina Hurricanes.

duncan keith

(Image found at:  http://weareregalradio.com/tag/duncan-keith/)

Duncan Keith:  Ice Hockey, 2010 (Vancouver) & 2014 (Sochi) Winter Olympics.  Duncan was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  He began playing hockey at a young age and grew up a Boston Bruins fan.  He was recruited by Michigan State and played college hockey for two years.  He left Michigan State during his second year after 15 games to join the major junior ranks.  He played for the Kelowna Rockets in British Columbia for a season and was then selected by the Chicago Blackhawks during the second round of NHL Entry Drafts in 2002, as 54th overall.  For two years he played in the AHL with the teams affiliate the Norfolk Admirals and in 2005 he finally joined the NHL as a member of the Blackhawks.  He was selected to be on the Canadian Olympic Hockey teams for 2010 and 2014 where the Canadian Team won gold over the American team both years.

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Finding My Way to the Canadian Studies Center

canehdian

When people find out that I work at the Canadian Studies Center (CSC) at MSU, almost everyone asks me the same two questions. 1)  Am I Canadian?  And 2) MSU has a Canadian Studies Center?  The answer to the first question is no.  I am not Canadian.  I am quite the mix of ethnicities, but Canadian is not one.  The answer to the second question is yes.  MSU does have a Canadian Studies Center.  Not only does it have a center, but our center is the oldest university based Canadian Studies Center in the nation.  Established in 1958 by A.J.M Smith, Poet Laureate of Canada and Russel Nye, Pulitzer Prize winning author, the Canadian Studies Center has been functioning at MSU for over 50 years to help foster learning, research, and outreach opportunities related to all aspects of Canada and its role in the world.  And that’s just the center alone.  The MSU Press publishes more scholarly books on Canada than any other university press in the U.S., and the MSU Main Library is an official repository for Canadian government documents.  MSU and Canada are entwined in so many relationships it’s astonishing to me that more people aren’t aware of it.

And that brings me to how I ended up working at the Canadian Studies Center.  In the spring of my freshman year here at MSU, one of my professors had a guest speak at the beginning of one of our lectures.  The woman was from the Canadian Studies Center and was letting us know that the center was looking for students interested in applying for internships with the office and that there would be a scholarship available for interns as well.  I took a flyer, but I initially didn’t think much of it.  Like most others, I had no idea that there was a Canadian Studies Center on campus, but if there was a scholarship opportunity I felt that I owed it to myself to look into the details at the very least.  But, as time passed I ended up doing nothing about it.

Fast forward to the spring semester of my sophomore year.  I had begun thinking about whether or not graduate school was something I potentially wanted to pursue after I got my degree from MSU.  It’s true, I had another two years before this would become an immediate concern, and some people might think me odd for trying to plan out my future so early.  But that’s just me.  I’m a planner, always have been and always will be.  So I started to look into Universities that have good anthropology graduate programs.  My search uncovered many universities within the U.S.; but the school that I kept finding myself coming back to was, you guessed it, in Canada.  Realizing that this school was in Canada made me think about the Canadian Studies Center and my lack of follow through from the year before.  As my disappointment in myself grew, I decided to email the center and see if they were looking for interns again.

Lo and behold when I logged into my email, I had an email from my adviser advertising that the Canadian Studies Center was once again looking for interns.  Taking this as a sign that I was meant to work at the Canadian Studies Center I immediately updated my resume to send in.  Within a few weeks I had secured an interview, and eventually an internship position with the center.

Currently, I’ve been with the center for about a year now.  While it’s been hectic at times, it’s been completely worth it.  I’ve been blessed with more opportunities than I ever dreamed this position could give me.  I initially thought the biggest advantage I would have from joining the center is being able to increase my chances of getting into a Canadian university.  But I’ve been given so much more.  Having the opportunities to meet and network with professionals from all fields has helped me learn what type of problems are affecting our society and the skills employers are looking for.  I’ve met people who have become mentors that have given me countless bits of advice and assistance when it comes to anything from needing a letter of recommendation to helping me find additional work and scholarship opportunities.  I’ve gotten to travel and speak in front of people, and my leadership skills have never been better.  I feel more innovative and confident about my ideas.  I’ve learned how to propose a project and maintain databases; and my arts and crafts skills have been put to the test.

When I first started working at the Canadian Studies Center my main thought was “What can the center do to forward my career?”, but the longer I’m here, the more I keep thinking about what I can do for the center.  And that, is the most valuable thing I have gained.