Olympic gold medalist Marc Kennedy came to town last Friday to speak to Terrace students and partake in a clinic and meet and greet at the Terrace Curling Club.
Kennedy, a small town boy from Alberta, won gold as part of Canada’s men’s curling team at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.
Students from Skeena and Cal packed the R.E.M. Lee Theatre for the assembly, in which Kennedy spoke about his journey from a nervous, shy kid in small town Alberta (a place he still calls home with his wife and two daughters) to the life of an Olympic gold medalist. He even let the kids pass around and hold the gold medal – something very few athletes are willing to do, but Kennedy believes it’s important because it can really help inspire young people.
“Not many people get to see one in their lifetime,” he said.
“It’s the heaviest Olympic medal ever made,” he said, while passing along the medal to students with wide eyes. “Please don’t drop it, and ideally, don’t steal it,” he joked.
Kennedy’s been curling since he was six-years-old, and curling competitively since he was about 12. As he rose through the ranks, the pressure to perform well was always there – and the moment he won gold was a big sigh of relief.
“Curling in Canada is a big deal,” he said. “We’re expected to win.” He later noted that the level of competition for curlers in Canada is so high, it doesn’t necessarily matter which of the eight teams in the qualifying round wins – they will still be ranked to take gold at the Olympics.
In his presentation, Kennedy stressed the points that kids should take care of themselves mentally and physically, work hard, respect the people around them, and dream big without worrying too much what others think.
“I’m from a big hockey town and took a lot of heat from my friends for playing a ‘dorky’ sport,” he said. “Imagine what would have happened if I’d listened to them?”
The Terrace Curling Club is hoping to get more junior curlers involved in the sport, which Kennedy says he loved right from the beginning. They are offering two free Monday night sessions for teens 13 – 18 so they can try it out and join the league if they enjoy it.
Kennedy says curling is a great option for kids looking to try a sport – and one they may not have considered.
“You can play your whole life, it’s inexpensive – you can play a whole year for under $100 – and it’s a lot easier to meet people. It’s a great team sport,” he said.