Students from a Chilliwack middle school had the rare opportunity to meet and play sports with three Olympic athletes this week.
Michelle Savich’s class from Mt. Slesse got some one-on-one time on Friday, Oct. 1 with B.C. athletes Evan Dunfee, Liz Gleadle and Oliver Scholfield who were in Tokyo earlier this year for the 2020 Olympic Games.
The visit came about after Kiefer McNaughton bid on an online auction item last year called ‘An Olympic experience with three athletes’, and won.
McNaughton is Savich’s husband and he donated the Olympic experience to her class. The auction was a fundraiser for KidSport which provides grants to help cover costs for kids to play sports whose families face financial barriers.
McNaughton has been friends with field hockey player Oliver Schofield for a number of years (and even competed against him) and met race-walker Evan Dunfee at the qualifier for the men’s national field hockey team for Tokyo.
When he saw what the field hockey team was doing for KidSport to help give youth an opportunity to be able to play sports, it was a “no brainer” to bid on the auction item, McNaughton said.
KidSport has helped “thousands of kids get to enjoy a season of sport that otherwise wouldn’t,” said Dunfee, who won bronze in the 50-kilometre men’s race walk in Tokyo.
Friday’s Olympic experience was also a great way to expose kids to “fringe” sports that aren’t seen everyday.
Mt. Slesse students got to try out three fringe sports on Oct. 1. They race-walked with Dunfee, plus tried their hand at javelin with Liz Gleadle and field hockey with Scholfield. All three Olympians are KidSport ambassadors.
“None of these kids have ever race-walked before, none of them have ever thrown a javelin before, I think one kid has played field hockey before,” Dunfee said, adding that it was a chance to get the kids out of their comfort zone of playing hockey, soccer, football or baseball.
McNaughton called it a “phenomenal” experience for the kids.
“We’ve seen firsthand the power that sport has. We are the people we are because of sport,” Dunfee said, referring to himself, Gleadle and Schofield.
KidSport is “about breaking down those barriers that are inhibiting to some people, and giving every kid the chance to play,” Dunfee added.