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Western Moments

Since that day, our Western roots have been at the heart of our friendship

My best Western moment didn’t actually happen at Western.

By 1996, I’d been a sports reporter for CBC for 11 years. I’d interviewed hundreds of athletes—but never an Olympic champion. I got my chance that summer at the Atlanta Games. Marnie McBean and her rowing partner, the late Kathleen Heddle, won the gold medal in the double sculls. I interviewed Marnie and that moment turned into a friendship that’s now 27 years old.

As we discovered that day, Marnie and I are both Western grads. And our Western roots have been at the heart of our friendship.

Our paths crossed again in 2016 when we were honoured as inaugural recipients of the Mustang Award of Excellence. Then, when Marnie was honoured with the 2023 Conn Smythe Lifetime Achievement Award for leadership in sport, she asked me to introduce her at the ceremony.

Marnie had once told me something about her Western experience that I included in my remarks that day.

She said, “Those years wrapped me in the depth of what it means to be an Olympian.”

It struck me that my own time at our school gave me the chance to appreciate not only the Olympics, but also what it means to be a Mustang—and a champion of her calibre.

CBC broadcaster and author Scott Russell, BA’80, BEd’81, MA’85

Frantically, I asked if she’d swap pants with me

It was 9 a.m. on a Wednesday. My alarm, set for 8 a.m., was still ringing when it hit me: I’d overslept and might not make it to my Chemistry 1301 lab.

Still half asleep and in a panic, I grabbed yesterday’s ripped jeans and a sweatshirt from the dreadful pile of clothes on my chair and made a run for it.

Within 20 minutes, I arrived on campus and was about to walk into the lab. And there he stood, the lab coordinator staring at the holes in my jeans. He wouldn’t let me in. Nothing personal of course, just for safety reasons.

And there she was, sitting outside the lab. Just a random girl. Frantically, I asked if she’d swap pants with me.

With a smile, and to my surprise, she said, “No problem!” So, together we ran to the washrooms, changed quick and threw our pants over the stalls to each other.

On the way out, she put her number in my phone, and said, “Good luck, text me when you’re out.”

That day, I met Arianne. Who became my best friend at Western.

Kristina Schaaf, second-year medical sciences student