Hometown Olympian hopes to inspire next generation

Brendan Green (left) and Rosanna Crawford speak to students at Chief Sunrise Education Centre last week. The two-time Olympic athletes wanted to inspire kids to work hard for their goals and to not let living in Hay River stop them from acheiving their dreams. Photo by Sarah Ladik NNSL

Brendan Green (left) and Rosanna Crawford speak to students at Chief Sunrise Education Centre last week. The two-time Olympic athletes wanted to inspire kids to work hard for their goals and to not let living in Hay River stop them from acheiving their dreams.
Photo by Sarah Ladik
NNSL

Fresh from their second Olympic Games, biathletes Brendan Green and Rosanna Crawford came back to Hay River to spread the word about hard work and determination last week.

“It doesn’t matter where you come from,” said Crawford. “If you put in the hard work and dedication, you can do whatever it is you want to do, whether that’s sports, or doing well in school, or arts.”

Green and Crawford had a busy week of touring schools to speak to students, while intermittently heading out to the Hay River Ski Club to practice with the local biathlon team. Although they left April 4 for Canmore, Alta., Crawford’s hometown and where they both train, they agreed their time in Hay River had been rewarding if not relaxing.

“I’m just sharing my story, and I hope to inspire some kids along the way,” said Green.

He wanted to thank the community for its continued support, in the run-up to, during, and now after the Olympics in Sochi. Green said the past few years have been a roller-coaster ride both physically and mentally and that he appreciated knowing that Hay River would always be around to cheer him on.

Crawford poked fun at the often-fervent support, saying that while in Sochi, they would wake up to emails and messages from home with photos of Green Day celebrations and pancake breakfasts during Olympic broadcasts.

“He would get his phone out and show everyone on the team,” she said.

Green’s particular message was that location doesn’t dictate success. He said he feels lucky to be from a place like Hay River where people really care about him and his career, adding that athletes from big cities certainly have their supporters, but nothing like what he enjoys in terms of small-town pride.

“The North is full of so many opportunities,” he said.

“The neat thing about Hay River is that there are so many people here to help you out and cheer you on. There are so many people willing to go out of their way to see you succeed.”

Green and Crawford said that while they have big competitions every year, Olympic years take a toll on them both physically and mentally.

They left April 4 and said they were very much looking forward to being home for a short rest before heading back to training.

“It’s always really nice to come home,” said Crawford. “Brendan and I are pretty lucky in that we’re together when we travel, but it’s still pretty tiring moving around all the time.”

Along with their message of inspiration, Green said he hoped to show kids that even Olympians aren’t so special.

“We’re no different from anyone else,” he told the assembled students and staff at Chief Sunrise Education Centre at their last school stop on April 3.

“Work hard and keep trying and you can make it anywhere.”

Principal Christina Steen said it was really something special for the kids to see Green in person. After participating in Green Day festivities, skiing the Brendan Green trail at the ski club, and watching some of the races as a school, it was good for them to see the athlete in real life.

“He’s a hero to them,” she said. “And now they can put a real face to the name.”

-Sarah Ladik