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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.