I'm not sure if I have written about my opening ceremonies memory yet, but as I was enthralled with watching the Sochi Olympics ceremonies...all the wonderful, out of body experiences come flooding back to me...
As I go visit young athletes and share my story with them, I tell them it all started with a dream. It goes like this:
"when I was 13 and watching the 1976 Montreal Olympics opening ceremonies, I was so moved to the core that I said to myself -
"by the time I am 25 I will walk in the Olympic opening ceremonies and I will travel the world"
Since the the 1968 games, I have watched every Olympics games...my dad always watched and I just was hooked - at 6yrs old!!. who knew how my story would unfold?
I thought that THE COOLEST thing in the world was to march in for your country wearing the brilliant red Maple Leaf on your uniform. Of course, I had no idea then how one actually gets to be in the walk-in, let alone the Olympics. I had not even started playing volleyball at that time.
As the years progressed, I improved in volleyball, made the national team, then we qualified for the 1984 Los Angeles Games. My goodness, in 8 years I was going to fulfil my dream of the Opening Ceremonies Walk-In!
Being at the Olympics is a surreal experience, on one hand it is a volleyball tournament on the other hand it is a once in a lifetime experience.
As athletes, we try to get a good sleep the night before, may have a practice the morning of, then prepare in the afternoon for the big walk. We put on our official opening ceremony uniforms (must admit the Canadian gear has much improved since my day), new shoes (not a good idea) and hop on the bus from the athletes village to the stadium. Hundreds of buses are shuttling the athletes in glorious colour to await the "walk-in".
I am sure that each individual, especially if it being the first Olympics, are excited and realizing that the dreams of their youth were about to come to fruition. The energy in the air is electric!!!
First comes the waiting....and waiting.....and waiting... athletes are usually brought in near the end of the ceremonies and watch on giant screens in the smaller stadium next door for their time to shine for up to 4 hours!!!. In Atlanta it was so hot - our long sleeved outfits did not take into account the heat of the day - we were melting....
As the holding stadium starts clearing slowly of the athletes by alphabetical order (in the US games Canada was always near the front), we hear over the loudspeaker ""Canada""- which means get up, exit this stadium, wait outside, line up 8 across - women in front, men behind.... and wait
now we have to run a good 1/2 mile to get to the entrance of the official stadium.
STOP & ReGROUP...
Go! Go! Go!...they have called us over the loudspeaker to enter...
well, no more lines of 8 across.....we have become a long train... so Canadian...
now the thrill of a lifetime unfolds....
walk thru the tunnel....dark, dark...
BRILLIANT SUNLIGHT, LOUD CHEER, SENSORY OVERLOAD...
How can the brain take in all this new information in a matter of seconds:
the roar of 100,000+ plus people screaming for you
the site of 100,000+ sets of eyes happy to see you
the act of walking when your body is floating 2' off the ground
the goosebumps on top of goosebumps on top of hair standing on end
the lump in your throat and the tears in your eyes as you realize
"THIS IS IT" Dream come to Life!
To this day, as I watch the Sochi Olympics... the goosebumps come back, the lump returns and my heart swells with pride as another group of young athletes experience the thrill of their lifetime... and it takes me back to my thrill... forever engraved in my soul!!!!
GO CANADA GO!!!!!
VERY PROUD OF ALL THESE ATHLETES!
Will you be there in 2016, 2018??
Someone needs to fill these spots...
Why Not YOU????
As many thoughts of volleyball & my many days of playing come up for me these days, I thought I would share some insights with young & old players, coaches alike!!