Jennifer Botterill grew up with the Olympics on her mind. And prominent in her house. Both of Jennifer’s parents have been to the Olympics on numerous occasions.
Her mother, Doreen, took part in both the 19 Olympic Winter Games in speedskating. Her father, Cal, is a sport psychologist who has worked with numerous elite athletes and teams in Canada, and therefore attended a number of Olympic Games. At the 2006 Games, Cal is working with the long track speedskaters as well as the cross country skiers.
“That was such a huge help for me when I first got started. I grew up in such a supportive environment. Seeing her, who’s a two-time Olympian, and she went to her first Olympics when she was sixteen. So, for me, striving to make the team when I was 18 (in 1998), I thought well, you know, this is possible. I think she’s been such an inspiration for me, to help my belief that this could become a reality.”
“Her (my mother’s) advice was to make sure that I enjoyed it, to stay myself. Again, I think in her situation, which was similar to mine, they had great teammates there to support her. In that sense, I felt like I was well-prepared and that I had people around me to support me and that I could just enjoy it.”
Botterill’s older brother Jason can’t boast of Olympic glory, but he has helped bring Canada glory, as the only three-time gold medalist with Canada’s National Junior Team. One would be tempted to ask what the parent were feeding these burdgeoning athletes.
“I feel so fortunate. I am so grateful for my family and the environment that I had. Because it was never ‘you have to do sports’, even if we ended up being a ‘sport family’. Growing up, my brother (Jason) and I were involved in so many different things. I played so many different sports and I played different musical instruments – that wasn’t my forte so that didn’t last very long – but I did gymnastics, rythmic gymnastics, different things. Our parents were always supportive of encouraging us to be involved in all kinds of activities, whatever that was. They encouraged us and supported us with what we liked. It was never pressure that I had to play hockey. It was always my decision on what I wanted to get involved with. That just fostered an environment where you could be passionate about something because you felt then unconditional support.”