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Vol 38  No 15
June 8, 2006


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Oration honouring Team Gushue

From left: Drs. Toby McDonald, Mike Adam, Jamie Korab, Mark Nichols and Brad Gushue.

 
Never in the field of Olympic conflict were so many gathered around so many television screens to watch so few achieve so much.

Wherever two or three Newfoundlanders and Labradorians were gathered together in airports and arcades, shopping malls and stadiums, board rooms and bars, in every Canadian province, in every Canadian embassy and consulate around the world, they watched this “few, this happy few,” this “band of brothers” make history by winning gold medals in the Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.

Because of their spectacular success in men’s curling, we shall always remember where we were on Feb. 24, 2006, when Team Gushue ­ Michael Adam, Bradley Gushue, Russell Howard, Jamie Korab, Tobias McDonald and Mark Nichols, these names now as “familiar as household words” ­ swept to victory. Like the alchemists of old, they transformed granite rocks into gold and changed, forever, how we think about ourselves.

These athletes have told the world that the sources of their winning attitude and achievement are to be found in the love of their families, in the pride of their communities, and in the support of the professionals at this university. So we all share in their golden, winning moment and are inspired by it. They are role models for us all, and for the next generation of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

These men are a new brand of sports hero: tough and competitive, yet willing to subsume the self for the good of the team; rigorously disciplined, yet flexible enough to risk new strategies; tightly focused and self-controlled, yet unabashed about showing emotion. Never servants of technology, instead they mastered it to share that moment of triumph in Torino. Who will ever forget, in the midst of that media frenzy, Brad looking into the CBC camera in Italy and telling his mother in Newfoundland to pick up the phone and talk to him?

They have given us a new spin on an epic narrative. Like the Arthurian knights of old, for five long years they journeyed on their grail quest for gold. And, along the way, they withstood the temptations of settling for lesser achievements, they confronted the despair of disappointment, they deflected the derision of skeptics and naysayers. Their collective faith, their cerebral and physical strength protected them against the insidious forces of sickness and anxiety. Through it all, they held faith with their mission to be the best sports team in Canada, to become the best in the world, and to do it from this place. And, Mr. Vice-Chancellor, they played for high stakes in the arena of world competition. There was drama, there was suspense and there was the thrill of the final chase down the ice of that killer stone in the sixth end. Yet their narrative is no mythic tale, no Mission Impossible III. There are no secret codes to lead these grail-seekers through mysteries to meaning. They are our own genuine heroes for the working day. For all the allure of this sextet ­ witness the Gushuemania that swept through St. John’s airport when they returned ­ these men are not spurious, screen idols. In fact, you could argue they are much better looking than Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks.

They are, as all the graduates at this convocation are, young people who have achieved excellence through fortitude, self-sacrifice and teamwork and through the love of their families and the support of this community. They are part of a new generation of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians equipped through reason, hard work, imagination and courage to turn the intractable materials of rocks and ice into the eternal gold of national and international recognition.

As Skip Meisen of Team Memorial who regularly “calls the shots” let’s see if you can replicate that amazing shot in the winning game and score six in the sixth end, by giving these six heralds of a golden age, not the Olympian garland of laurels which wither and die, but the doctoral hood of Memorial University which confers lasting honour. I ask you to hurry, hurry hard, Mr. Vice-Chancellor, and confer on Michael Bruce Adam the degree of doctor of laws, honoris causa, Bradley Raymond Gushue the degree of doctor of laws, honoris causa, Russell Winston Howard, in absentia, the degree of doctor of laws, honoris causa, Jamie Arthur Korab the degree of doctor of laws, honoris causa, Tobias Francis McDonald Jr. the degree of doctor of laws, honoris causa, and Mark Bradley Nichols the degree of doctor of laws, honoris causa.

Dr. Annette Staveley
Deputy public orator

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