In 1991 I was asked to do a story about Michelle Sawatsky for the magazine The Mennonite Mirror. At that time Michelle was a University of Manitoba volleyball player working towards a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance and voice.
She and I talked about her successful high school volleyball experience under the tutelage of coach Shannon Kehler and the wonderful support her family gave her in all her endeavors. Michelle commented on how media coverage of women’s sports seemed to pale in comparison to the coverage offered men, and the way the American attitude towards the game of volleyball stood in stark contrast to the Canadian approach. She expressed appreciation for her university coach Ken Bentley who she said made allowances for her musical aspirations and was helping her become the best player she could be.
At the time I interviewed Michelle in 1991 she shared her dream of someday making the Canadian National Team and competing in the Olympics, a dream which came true in 1996 when she was on the Canadian women’s Olympic volleyball team in Atlanta. Michelle went on to establish a long and successful career for herself as a radio host for CFAM and its affiliates.
In 2005 when my husband Dave and I were teaching at an international school in Hong Kong we invited Michelle to fly out to visit us and talk to the students at our school about her Olympic experience at our annual sports awards banquet. She also spoke to the high school student body and did some volleyball clinics with my husband’s physical education students.
We had a good time showing Michelle around Hong Kong. One morning when we took a cable car ride to the top of Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak and happened to meet two young radio journalists doing a school assignment. They asked to interview us and when we told them Michelle was an Olympic athlete they were thrilled to have snagged her as a guest for their video project.
On July 8th I was thrilled to connect with Michelle again when she interviewed me about my novel Lost on the Prairie on her radio show. We talked about how I got the idea for the novel, how it was appealing to a really wide audience of different ages, and the research I had done to write the book. You can listen to the interview here.
I was so grateful to Michelle for giving me an opportunity to talk about my book on her radio program. It also provided us with another opportunity to reconnect.